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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Wandersee, James H. [1], Clary, Renee M. [2].

A Content-Analytic Study of the Plant Science Audiotour at the University Botanical Garden in Florence, Italy.

THERE are about 1,400 botanical gardens and arboreta in the world, serving more than 100 million visitors per year. A significant number of these institutions are located in Europe, and more than 30 are found in Italy—home of the world’s first botanical garden. The purpose of these early gardens was to exhibit plants for medicinal use, as in the still-extant Italian university botanical gardens created in the 16th century--first in Padua, then Pisa, and next in Florence. The latter’s beautiful enclosed botanical garden, bearing the traditional name of Giardino dei Semplicia, was formed by Cosimo I de Medici on 1 December 1545. It quickly rose to national importance. Today measuring a little more than two hectares (200 acres), almost all belonging to the original layout, it includes a set of hot and temperate greenhouses plus outdoor exhibits and collections, as well as notable medicinal and other ethnobotanical plants, and some superb living specimens of sequoia, cedar, and cork oak trees. Using the content analysis methods of Neuendorf (2001), we first walked the audiotour trail ourselves, and then we transcribed, on-site, the verbal content (English) of the handheld electronic audiotour device that we rented. Next, we categorized and coded the resulting text (to acceptable reliability stardards) into the following emergent, sometimes nested categories: plant identification, plant facts, and plant stories involving Italian history, horticulture, botany, commerce, and medicine. We also measured the grade-level equivalent of the narration and developed a model describing key components and properties of the Garden’s audiotour-based interpretative system for those who might wish to develop an exemplary audiotour for another garden or arboretum.

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1 - Louisiana State University, Dept. of Curric. & Instr., 15-Degree Laboratory, Room 223-F Peabody Hall, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70803, USA
2 - Mississippi State University, Dept. of Geosciences, 301-B Hilbun Hall, Mississippi State, Mississippi, 39762, USA

science education
history of science
botanical garden
interpretive system
plant science
content analysis.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 11-2
Location: 207-209/Kandall Hall
Date: Monday, July 31st, 2006
Time: 9:15 AM
Abstract ID:691

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