Place-Based Learning with Out-of-Place Species & Students: Teaching International Students about Biological Invasions



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University of California Press


Place-based instruction allows students to explore learned concepts while building emotional connections with the location in which they are studying. Furthermore, the case for experiential science education continues to grow, and such pedagogy may be particularly beneficial to learning in ecology and environmental science. We present an experiential, place-based pedagogy aimed at introducing international high school or undergraduate students to the concept of biological invasions. Our lesson began by introducing our class, a group of Chinese high school students in a summer program in the United States, with examples of invasive species that had previously been introduced from China into the United States or vice versa. Guided discussion then focused on plant and animal species with which the students had some familiarity and covered concepts of biological invasions more generally. Next, students participated in a field activity exploring the ecology of the invasive tumbleweed Salsola tragus, a Eurasian (including much of China) species that has invaded the United States. Through classroom and field activity, students gained understanding of biological invasions, and we believe that internalization was enhanced by connecting the lesson with students' own experiences and participation in basic scientific methods and ecological fieldwork.


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Active Learning, Experiential Learning, Range Plant Ecology, Nonindigenous, Nonnative, Place-Based Learning


Matthew A. Barnes, Robert D. Cox, Jessica Spott; Place-Based Learning with Out-of-Place Species & Students: Teaching International Students about Biological Invasions. The American Biology Teacher 1 September 2019; 81 (7): 503–506.