With the varied academic backgrounds of students enrolled in undergraduate courses in plant physiology it is often not possible to meet their educational needs and motivate them with conventional laboratory exercises using the "cookbook" approach. Course changes made in the past year are helping stimulate and motivate students to a deeper study and understanding of plant physiology. The approach being taken offers a "project oriented" laboratory in which students design, conduct, evaluate, and present oral and written reports on their results.
This approach has been implemented in two courses through the purchase of some and the design and construction of other instructional modules and equipment. An increased motivation to greater in-depth study of plant physiology was depicted by the extent of student involvement in three sequential courses.
This approach in teaching the laboratory has the advantage over conventional methods in that the student works in an area of his interest, utilizes time more efficiently, maximizes utilization of equipment, and experiences a better opportunity for individualization of instruction. Student projects can be of scientific merit and if monitored properly, are of a publishable nature. Having experienced these advantages, we see a need to expand the program so more students may benefit.