ArticlePDF Available

Bryophytes for Beginners: The usability of a printed dichotomous key versus a multi-access computer-based key for bryophyte identification

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Bryophytes are a rewarding study group in field biology and the UK bryophyte flora has international importance to biodiversity conservation. We designed an identification key to common woodland moss species and compared the usability of two formats, web-based multi-access and printed dichotomous key, with undergraduate students. The rate of correct species identification and identification speed both showed an advantage for the printed dichotomous key. Our findings suggest that, even in the digital age, printed keys remain valuable in biological education and that quality of key design is more important than presentation medium. We discuss the relative advantages of multi-access and dichotomous keys and how to approach bryophyte identification with beginners.
Content may be subject to copyright.
PROOF COVER SHEET
Author(s): Bethan C. Stagg
Article title: Bryophytes for Beginners: The usability of a printed dichotomous key versus a
multi-access computer-based key for bryophyte identication
Article no: RJBE 934900
Enclosures: 1) Query sheet
2) Article proofs
Dear Author,
1. Please check these proofs carefully. It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to
check these and approve or amend them. A second proof is not normally provided. Taylor &
Francis cannot be held responsible for uncorrected errors, even if introduced during the production
process. Once your corrections have been added to the article, it will be considered ready for
publication.
Please limit changes at this stage to the correction of errors. You should not make trivial changes,
improve prose style, add new material, or delete existing material at this stage. You may be
charged if your corrections are excessive (we would not expect corrections to exceed 30 changes).
For detailed guidance on how to check your proofs, please paste this address into a new browser
window: http://journalauthors.tandf.co.uk/production/checkingproofs.asp
Your PDF proof le has been enabled so that you can comment on the proof directly using Adobe
Acrobat. If you wish to do this, please save the le to your hard disk rst. For further information
on marking corrections using Acrobat, please paste this address into a new browser window: http://
journalauthors.tandf.co.uk/production/acrobat.asp
2. Please review the table of contributors below and conrm that the rst and last names are
structured correctly and that the authors are listed in the correct order of contribution. This
check is to ensure that your name will appear correctly online and when the article is indexed.
Sequence Prex Given name(s) Surname Sufx
1
2
3
Bethan C.
Maria E.
Alison M.
Stagg
Donkin
Smith
Queries are marked in the margins of the proofs, and you can also click the hyperlinks below.
AUTHOR QUERIES
General points:
1. Permissions: You have warranted that you have secured the necessary written permission from
the appropriate copyright owner for the reproduction of any text, illustration, or other material in
your article. Please see http://journalauthors.tandf.co.uk/permissions/usingThirdPartyMaterial.asp.
2. Third-party content: If there is third-party content in your article, please check that the
rightsholder details for re-use are shown correctly.
3. Afliation: The corresponding author is responsible for ensuring that address and email details
are correct for all the co-authors. Afliations given in the article should be the afliation at the
time the research was conducted. Please see http://journalauthors.tandf.co.uk/preparation/
writing.asp.
4. Funding: Was your research for this article funded by a funding agency? If so, please insert
This work was supported by <insert the name of the funding agency in full>, followed by the
grant number in square brackets [grant number xxxx].
5. Supplemental data and underlying research materials: Do you wish to include the location
of the underlying research materials (e.g. data, samples or models) for your article? If so, please
insert this sentence before the reference section: The underlying research materials for this
article can be accessed at <full link>/ description of location [author to complete]. If your
article includes supplemental data, the link will also be provided in this paragraph. See <http://
journalauthors.tandf.co.uk/preparation/multimedia.asp> for further explanation of supplemental
data and underlying research materials.
6. The CrossRef database (www.crossref.org/) has been used to validate the references.
Mismatches will have resulted in a query.
AQ1 Please check whether corresponding author has been tagged correctly.
AQ2 The reference Watson (1981)is cited in the text but is not listed in the references
list. Please either delete the in-text citation or provide full reference details follow-
ing journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ3 Please give OPAL in full in rst mention.
AQ4 The reference Lawrence and Hawthorne (1996)is cited in the text but is not listed
in the references list. Please either delete in-text citation or provide full reference
details following journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ5 The reference Dallwitz et al. (2007)is cited in the text but is not listed in the ref-
erences list. Please either delete the in-text citation or provide full reference details
following journal style.
AQ6 The reference Morse and Tardivel (1996)is cited in the text but is not listed in
the references list. Please either delete in-text citation or provide full reference
details following journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ7 The reference Kirchoff (2011)is cited in the text but is not listed in the references
list. Please either delete in-text citation or provide full reference details following
journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ8 The reference Jones and Lowe (2008)is cited in the text but is not listed in the
references list. Please either delete in-text citation or provide full reference details
following journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ9 The reference Spot (2013)is cited in the text but is not listed in the references
list. Please either delete in-text citation or provide full reference details following
journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ10 The reference Edwards (2012)is cited in the text but is not listed in the references
list. Please either delete in-text citation or provide full reference details following
journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ11 The citationKrasna et al. (2010)has been changed to match the entry in the refer-
ences list. Please conrm that this is correct and provide revisions if needed.
AQ12 The reference Randler (2008)is cited in the text but is not listed in the references
list. Please either delete in-text citation or provide full reference details following
journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ13 The reference Tarkus (2010)is cited in the text but is not listed in the references
list. Please either delete in-text citation or provide full reference details following
journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ14 Please give PDA in full in rst mention.
AQ15 The reference Wolseley and Martellos (2009)is cited in the text but is not listed
in the references list. Please either delete in-text citation or provide full reference
details following journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ16 The reference Matthies (2002)is cited in the text but is not listed in the references
list. Please either delete in-text citation or provide full reference details following
journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ17 The reference Randler (2008)is cited in the text but is not listed in the references
list. Please either delete in-text citation or provide full reference details following
journal style
[http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/style/reference/tf_ChicagoAD.pdf].
AQ18 Please provide missing details for the Crawford (2002)references list entry.
AQ19 Please provide missing page numbers for the Drinkwater (2009)references list
entry.
AQ20 The reference Edwards (2010)is listed in the references list but is not cited in the
text. Please either cite the reference or remove it from the references list.
AQ21 Please provide missing details for the Guarino et al. (2010)references list entry.
AQ22 Please provide missing details for the Krasna (2010)references list entry.
AQ23 The reference Lawrence (2006)is listed in the references list but is not cited in
the text. Please either cite the reference or remove it from the references list.
AQ24 The reference Leggett (2011)is listed in the references list but is not cited in the
text. Please either cite the reference or remove it from the references list.
AQ25 The reference Lindemann-matthies (2010)is listed in the references list but is not
cited in the text. Please either cite the reference or remove it from the references
list.
AQ26 Please provide missing details for the Martellos (2010a)references list entry.
AQ27 The reference Morse (1996)is listed in the references list but is not cited in the
text. Please either cite the reference or remove it from the references list.
AQ28 Please provide missing details for the Newberry (2004)references list entry.
AQ29 The reference Randler (2008)is listed in the references list but is not cited in the
text. Please either cite the reference or remove it from the references list.
AQ30 Please provide missing page numbers for the Randler and Birtel (2008)references
list entry.
AQ31 Please provide missing details for the Tarkus et al. (2010)references list entry.
AQ32 The reference Tarkus (2010)is listed in the references list but is not cited in the
text. Please either cite the reference or remove it from the references list.
How to make corrections to your proofs using Adobe Acrobat/Reader
Taylor & Francis offers you a choice of options to help you make corrections to your proofs. Your
PDF proof le has been enabled so that you can edit the proof directly using Adobe Acrobat/
Reader. This is the simplest and best way for you to ensure that your corrections will be incorpo-
rated. If you wish to do this, please follow these instructions:
1. Save the le to your hard disk.
2. Check which version of Adobe Acrobat/Reader you have on your computer. You can do this by
clicking on the Helptab, and then About.
If Adobe Reader is not installed, you can get the latest version free from http://get.adobe.com/
reader/.
3. If you have Adobe Acrobat/Reader 10 or a later version, click on the Commentlink at the
right-hand side to view the Comments pane.
4. You can then select any text and mark it up for deletion or replacement, or insert new text as
needed. Please note that these will clearly be displayed in the Comments pane and secondary
annotation is not needed to draw attention to your corrections. If you need to include new sec-
tions of text, it is also possible to add a comment to the proofs. To do this, use the Sticky Note
tool in the task bar. Please also see our FAQs here: http://journalauthors.tandf.co.uk/production/
index.asp.
5. Make sure that you save the le when you close the document before uploading it to CATS
using the Upload Filebutton on the online correction form. If you have more than one le,
please zip them together and then upload the zip le.
If you prefer, you can make your corrections using the CATS online correction form.
Troubleshooting
Acrobat help: http://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat.html
Reader help: http://helpx.adobe.com/reader.html
Please note that full user guides for earlier versions of these programs are available from the Adobe
Help pages by clicking on the link Previous versionsunder the Help and tutorialsheading from
the relevant link above. Commenting functionality is available from Adobe Reader 8.0 onwards
and from Adobe Acrobat 7.0 onwards.
Firefox users: Firefoxs inbuilt PDF Viewer is set to the default; please see the following for
instructions on how to use this and download the PDF to your hard drive: http://support.mozilla.-
org/en-US/kb/view-pdf-les-refox-without-downloading-them#w_using-a-pdf-reader-plugin
Bryophytes for Beginners: The usability of
a printed dichotomous key versus a
multi-access computer-based key for
5
bryophyte identication
Bethan C. Stagg*, Maria E. Donkin and Alison M. Smith
School of Biological Sciences, Plymouth University, Portland Square, Drake Circus,
Plymouth, Devon, PL4 8AA, UK
Bryophytes are a rewarding study group in eld biology and the UK bryophyte ora has international
10
importance to biodiversity conservation. We designed an identication key to common woodland moss
species and compared the usability of two formats, web-based multi-access and printed dichotomous
key, with undergraduate students. The rate of correct species identication and identication speed both
showed an advantage for the printed dichotomous key. Our ndings suggest that, even in the digital
age, printed keys remain valuable in biological education and that quality of key design is more
15
important than presentation medium. We discuss the relative advantages of multi-access and dichoto-
mous keys and how to approach bryophyte identication with beginners.
Keywords: Botany; Bryophytes; Identication Keys; Digital Technology; Multi-access
Keys; Dichotomous Keys
Introduction
20
Bryophytes (mosses, liverworts and hornworts) are primitive terrestrial plants which
reproduce mainly by spores (Watson 1981). Two thirds of UK bryophytes are mosses,
which have erect or creeping stems, tiny leaves and lamentous threads called rhizoids,
in lieu of roots. Bryophytes require moist conditions which explains why Britain and
Ireland have a particularly rich bryophyte ora (two thirds of all European species,
25
compared to just a sixth of Europes angiosperms and ferns) (Atherton, Bosanquet, and
Lawley 2010). The UK bryophyte ora is of global signicance but more than 10% of
the 1100 species are threatened and listed on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (Woods
AQ2
*Corresponding author. Email: bethan.stagg@plymouth.ac.uk
© 2014 Society of Biology
Journal of Biological Education, 2014
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00219266.2014.934900
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
and Coppins 2012). Bryophytes play a major ecological role in a range of habitats; they
are established biological indicators of environmental change and a key feature in the
5National Vegetation Classication (Grace 1995; Crawford 2002). An introduction to bryo-
phyte identication is therefore a valuable skill for our future ecologists.
Bryophytes are an ideal study group for eld biology since they are easily found in all
seasons, including the winter when most potential study organisms are scarce (Atherton,
Bosanquet, and Lawley 2010). Even the most unpromising school or campus grounds
10 will have brick walls, concrete surfaces or roof tiles studded with the neat cushions of
Grimmia pulvinata (hedgehog moss), or Tortula muralis (wall screw-moss), whilst estab-
lished urban woodlands may yield several species. Tuition in plant identication is pro-
ven to be most effective when live specimens are used (Taraban et al. 2004; Teolis,
Pefey, and Wester 2007; Stagg and Donkin 2013). Bryophytes are compact and easily
15 stored live for several weeks in a shaded, frost-proof environment, or dried as herbarium
specimens, since species resume their natural form and appearance once wetted (Ather-
ton, Bosanquet, and Lawley 2010).
The reasons why bryophytes are not a more common choice for eld study include
their small size, absence of owers, underused common names, and the fact that biology
20 teachers steer away from unfamiliar study groups (Grace 1995; Newberry 2004). Many
bryophyte species show high intra-species variation according to microhabitat. This is an
additional challenge for the biology teacher but may inform students on the inuence of
environment on plant habit Until recently, bryophyte identication guides that are accessi-
ble to beginners were scarce, compared to other taxonomic groups. We now have the
25 photographic eld guide to woodland bryophytes produced by Crawford (2002), the
British Bryological Societyseld identication guide (Atherton, Bosanquet, and Lawley
2010), and OPALs photographic key to orchard bryophytes (Stevenson 2013). These
high quality identication keys and guides could prove to be valuable ambassadors for
bryophyte conservation.
30 Lawrence and Hawthorne (1996) dene usability of an identication guide using three
parameters: effectiveness (enables user to make a positive identication); efciency (mini-
mises time and effort required from user); satisfaction (enjoyment from using the guide).
Usability is determined by the navigability of the key, ease of understanding of the termi-
nology and pictorial information (photos, illustrations, symbols), and ease of location and
35 recognition of differentiation cues in the focal specimens. Keys for non-experts should
not be unnecessarily simplistic or un-technical, since such measures would reduce their
educational benet, whilst keys that are enjoyable to use are proven to be more effective
(Guarino, Menegoni, and Pignatti 2010; Stagg and Donkin 2013). Most printed identica-
tion keys are dichotomous keys, where each step in the key presents a choice with two
40 alternatives (Dallwitz et al. 2007; Drinkwater 2009). Electronic keys are usually multi-
access, meaning that the sequence of steps is not xed in a particular order. The user
selects a value from a list of characters for each step and may skip or return to particular
steps as they choose.
This study compares the usability of an electronic multi-access key with that of a
45 printed dichotomous key for the identication of bryophyte species common in acid
woodlands. Both keys in this study were produced by the lead author as a demonstration
of what an educational professional without specialist IT or design skills is able to
AQ3
AQ4
AQ5
2B.C. Stagg et al.
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
produce. Designing keys requires a high initial investment but allows the key to be
tailored to curricular content and personalised to local environments, increasing their rele-
5
vance to studentslives (Martellos 2010a). Key effectiveness was assessed using the rate
of positive identications in a keying-out activity of twelve species. Key efciency was
dened as the completion time for the keying-out activity. Key satisfaction was assessed
with a post activityself-reported evaluation.
Few studies in the literature have tested the usability of an electronic multi-access key
10
alongside a comparable printed dichotomous key. Morse and Tardivel (1996) compared a
multi-access key with printed dichotomous key for woodlice identication and found no
difference in student accuracy. A number of articles have discussed educational benets
of electronic keys and good practice in key design, without testing specic keys (e.g. Farr
2006; Martellos 2010b; Dallwitz, Paine, and Zurcher 2013). Others have examined issues
15
in computer-based biodiversity education (Taraban et al. 2004; Teolis, Pefey, and Wester
2007; Ruchter, Klar, and Geiger 2010).
Keys in this study omitted spore capsule characteristics to allow for year-round use
and because spore capsules become easily detached and lost from specimens that are
stored and frequently handled. The keys were based on morphological characters discern-
20
ible with the naked eye, therefore excluding leaf margin and central nerve characteristics.
In the authorsexperience as botany tutors, students have difculty relying on ner
details until they are condent using a hand lens. The rst step in both keys requires dif-
ferentiation between the two main growth types: pleurocarps, which are branched, sprawl-
ing species with scale-like leaves, and acrocarps, erect, upright species with infrequent
25
branching and large, visible leaves.
Method
Identication Keys
Photographs of fresh specimens were taken in the laboratory using a Canon EOS SLR
camera, with specimens displayed on a white background to assist differentiation
30
(Kirchoff, 2011). Keys were produced using character data derived from multiple speci-
mens, Atherton, Bosanquet and Lawley (2010) and Crawford (2002). The printed key
was produced using Microsoft Ofce PowerPoint 2007 and printed as a cropped A3 doc-
ument on a colour Kodak photocopier (Figure 1). The key format was inspired by the
OPAL key to common British earthworms, written by Jones and Lowe (2008) and
35
designed by FSC Publications. Like Goulder and Scott (2006), the authors have found
the Field Studies Councils fold-out laminated charts to be invaluable for introducing
novices to species identication.
The electronic key was produced using the software and website of iSpot, which was
developed by the Open University for Open Air Laboratories and funded by the Big
40
Lottery Fund (iSpot, 2013). The key is viewable at http://www.ispotnature.org/uk-and-ire
land. The key interface presents a list of characters and the user selects a character state
for each one, in their preferred order (Figure 2). Users are able to review and modify
their choice of character states during identication. A row of ticks accumulates next to
the one or more species that closely match the users selections. The user selects a
AQ1
AQ6
AQ7
AQ8
AQ9
Bryophytes for Beginners 3
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
5species and its photograph and list of character states is displayed, as well as a link to
photographs uploaded by the iSpot user community. Users are able to compare similar
Mono for print
colour online
Figure 1. Front page of double-sided printed key produced for the study
Mono for print
colour online
Figure 2. Example page from the electronic key, showing tick and star icons that guide user to a
positive identication
4B.C. Stagg et al.
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
species to verify identication (Figure 3). The iSpot key interface fulls the recommenda-
tions for electronic key design in Farr (2006).
iSpot keys are based on a data matrix of species x character combinations saved in an
5
Excel spreadsheet. Keys based on a matrix spreadsheet are less daunting for educators as
there is no need to learn a new application (Hagedorn, Rambold, and Martellos 2010).
Each species is required to have a unique set of character states for the key to function
but the character matrix allows for some redundancy which contributes to key efciency
(Edwards 2012). Characters can be weighted according to their importance in determining
10
a positive identication. In our key, moss growth type (pleurocarp or acrocarp) was
allocated a 15% higher weighting than the other eight characters. It is also possible to
have more than one correct answer for a species character state, which accommodates
some of the intra-species variation that users will encounter. In our key, for example, a
correct answer was registered if predominantly pinnateor short branches of different
15
lengths around stemwas selected for branching pattern in Rhytidiadelphus loreus.
Six university biology lecturers and technicians tested the two keys in November 2012
and the keys were revised based on their feedback.
Mono for print
colour online
Figure 3. Example page from the electronic key, showing options for species comparisons
AQ10
Bryophytes for Beginners 5
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
Materials
Bryophyte samples were collected from woodlands in Buckfastleigh, Devon, in December
52012 and stored in sealed containers in a refrigerator. Fresh specimens were used for each
identication session wherever possible and presented in Petri dishes to reduce moisture
loss when not in use. Specimens were wetted with a dropper bottle during the session if
required.
Experimental Procedure
10 Five identication sessions were held during December 2012 and January 2013,
instructed by the OPAL community scientist, who is one of the authors. Fifty-two people
attended these optional sessions: twenty Duchy College horticulture diploma students and
thrity-two from Plymouth University (predominantly biological or environmental science
degree students, with a few PhD students, interns and technicians also attending). Stu-
15 dents were randomly assigned to desks with or without a computer on arrival. On each
desk was a closed box containing twelve fresh bryophyte specimens in numbered Petri
dishes, an instruction sheet, worksheets, hand lens (x10), ruler, and (in the case of stu-
dents at desks without computers) the printed identication key. Students received verbal
instruction on the keys, how to use a hand lens, and the rudiments of bryophyte anatomy,
20 supplemented by an annotated handout. Students were required to complete the identica-
tion activity without conferring and to record identications, start time, and nish time
on a worksheet. The session culminated with instruction and feedback on identication of
the focal species, followed by a self-reported evaluation. The evaluation form required
the student to give the key a score out of ten for enjoyment and usefulnessand
25 complete an open question on what they thought of the key. An independent-samples
Mann-Whitney U Test was used to test the null hypotheses that there was no difference
in number of species correctly identied (key effectiveness), time required to complete
key (key efciency) and enjoyment-feedback score (key satisfaction) using electronic and
printed keys. This statistical test was chosen because one of the variables (key satisfac-
30 tion) violated parametric test assumptions. All statistical analyses were produced using
SPSS 21.
Results
Twenty-four students completed the electronic key and twenty-eight students completed
the printed key. None of the students were able to identify any specimens prior to the
35 identication trial which is unsurprising as bryophyte identication was not a part of their
curriculum. An independent samples Mann-Whitney U test identied signicant differ-
ences at the 1% condence level between both the number of species identied and the
time required to complete the identication activity using the electronic and printed keys
(Table 1). Students using the electronic key identied less species correctly and required
40 more time to complete the key, compared to the printed key. There was no difference in
key satisfaction between the two key types.
6B.C. Stagg et al.
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
Table 1. A comparison of key effectiveness, efciency and satisfaction for electronic and printed bryophyte keys. All calculations are shown to three
decimal places
Electronic key Printed key P value in
statistical tests*Key characteristic Variable Mean Standard deviation Sample size Mean Standard deviation Sample size
Key effectiveness Number of species
correctly identied
8.271 1.950 24 9.768 1.624 28 0.007**
Key efciency Time (min.) to complete
identication exercise
45.400 12.588 20 22.833 9.823 24 <0.001**
Key satisfaction Feedback score/10 for
key enjoyment
7.044 2.246 23 7.304 1.812 28 0.523
*An independent-samples Mann-Whitney U Test was used to test null hypotheses that there was no difference between electronic and printed keys for the
three variables described.
**Denotes comparisons where there is a statistically signicant difference at the 1% condence level.
Bryophytes for Beginners 7
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
Qualitative Feedback
Forty-ve students completed written feedback (twenty-one students for the electronic
key and twenty-four for the printed key). Nine students described the printed key as
5being easy to use, with four students making the same comment for the electronic key.
Three students described the key as very usefulfor both keys. Eight students com-
mented that: some descriptions of/distinctions between characters were unclearfor the
printed key, whilst ve students made the same comment for the electronic key. Other
common comments for the printed key included: Pictures/photos were helpful/useful
10 (three students); pictures were confusing when the specimens looked different from the
picture(three students).
Relative Difculty in Species Identication
Mnium hornum and Atrichum undulatum were the most commonly misidentied species
for both keys, although in the authorsexperience students do not normally have
Mono for print
colour online
Figure 4. A comparison of species misidentications for two key types for electronic and printed
bryophyte keys
8B.C. Stagg et al.
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
5
difculty differentiating these species in the eld (Figure 4). Confounding characters for
these two species appeared to be the colour of the central nerve and leaf shape.
Misidentications were also high for the two Rhytidadelphus species which were most
commonly misidentied for each other. Students were probably relying on plant height,
which is similar for the two species, instead of comparing stem leaf lengths as instructed
10
in the key. Misidentication was high for Scleropodium purum in the computer key,
which was most frequently misidentied for the similar-shaped Hyocomium armoricum.
The higher accuracy for this species in the printed key could be due to the easier compar-
isons allowed by this format, whereas the electronic key relies on the user selecting the
correct species for comparison. Misidentication was high for Plagiothecium undulatum
15
in the computer key. It was frequently mistaken as an acrocarp due to its large leaves and
sparsely branched habit.
Discussion
A Comparison of the Electronic and Printed Keys
Key efciency was higher for the printed dichotomous key, with the keying-out exercise
20
taking about half the time to complete compared to the electronic multi-access key. As
discussed by Hagedorn, Rambold, and Martellos (2010) and Krasna (2010), dichotomous
keys require fewer decisions and character identications than multi-access keys. The
electronic key required physical navigation of up to sixteen mouse clicks and three page
scrolling movements per species, which may also inuence identication speed. Naviga-
25
tion is self-explanatory in the dichotomous key on account of the printed owchart
design, whereas navigation in the multi-access key relies on familiarisation and practice.
Students had also probably experienced printed keys in other contexts and were familiar
with their use, whereas they may not have used an electronic key before. Randler (2008)
demonstrated that studentsperformance with an unfamiliar key was improved if they
30
were rst acclimatised using a key based on a familiar group of species or objects as this
reduces the cognitive load associated with key use.
Key accuracy was also higher for the dichotomous key, which had 81% correct
answers for all identications compared to 69% for the multi-access key. This result is
surprising since multi-access keys allow for positive identications even if a few charac-
35
ters are omitted or misclassied, making them more accommodating of noviceslack of
expertise or disparity in a specimens characters due to lifecycle or intra-specic variation
(Farr 2006; Dallwitz, Paine, and Zurcher 2013). The benets of such an effect, however,
are probably more pronounced in keys with a higher number of characters and species
than the key used in this study. Higher accuracy in the printed key is probably a
40
consequence of its presentation format, which allows easy viewing of similar species and
differentiating characters. Again, if students have used printed keys before their con-
dence with this type of key may contribute to the rate of positive identications. The time
consuming nature of the computer key may contribute to lower accuracy through
diminished user motivation and attention. Students that took a long time to complete the
45
electronic key were often observed in the latter part of the sessions to rely on compari-
sons between photographs and specimens instead of on character selections.
AQ11
AQ12
Bryophytes for Beginners 9
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
In the multi-access key the user is presented with a list of between three and six
character states per character. This is more information to process at each step than in the
dichotomous key and might increase the likelihood of mistakes. Common errors were stu-
5dents answering the questions that said pleurocarp onlyfor acrocarps, and vice versa,
and misinterpretation of the illustrations in branching pattern.Such errors may change
the conguration of tickicons so that incorrect species move into the shortlist of likely
species, leading the user astray. To prevent this, some key designs incorporate character
dependencies such that certain character values make other characters inapplicable
10 (Dallwitz, Paine, and Zurcher 2013). An improvement in key design would be separate
keys for pleurocarps and acrocarps, which the user was signposted to once answering
the moss typecharacter state. Branching patternwas also a problematic character for
students, which is encountered at an earlier stage in the multi-access key (if the characters
are tackled in the order in which they are displayed).
15 Key satisfaction was similar for the two keys, suggesting that the lower efciency
and accuracy did not detract from enjoyment for the electronic key. The electronic key
allowed users to link to photographs of species in the eld uploaded by the iSpot com-
munity but image quality was variable. Links to resources and user communities
enhance user enjoyment, although some teachers found that such resources distracted
20 from the identication activity (Tarkus 2010). The most common criticisms of both
keys in written feedback related to difculty understanding some character descriptions
or using them in differentiation. For example, the character colour of midribfor acro-
carps (pale green or dark green) would have beneted from the inclusion of colour
bands for comparison.
25 Digital learning resources are considered the natural choice for the current generation
of students, who may tend to perceive printed resources as archaic. Electronic keys do
not have the spatial constraints of a printed resource, allowing for enhanced information
provision, and colour images and updates are incorporated without the costs associated
with hard copy (Farr 2006). A range of tablets and other mobile devices allow for elec-
30 tronic identication in the eld. iSpot have produced fourteen identication keys for
mobile devices, including lichens, woodlice and ladybirds (www.ispot.org.uk/mobile
keys). The number of iPod species identication apps applicable to the UK now exceeds
twenty, eight of which are trees or wildowers (https://www.apple.com/uk/itunes/). A
small number of identication apps are also available for Android phones (https://play.go
35 ogle.com/store/apps). Apps have the advantage that they can be used in a stand-alone
mode, once stored in the devices memory, making them easy to use in eld localities
(Martellos 2010a). In an educational context however, digital learning is often constrained
by a lack of sufcient hardware for an entire student cohort, its durability at the hands of
multiple users, and the speed at which hardware and applications become outmoded
40 (Tarkus 2010). The authors relied on computers for testing the electronic key in this study
because a set of PDAs purchased by the university less than two years previously were
already obsolete.
In a study comparing the efcacy of printed guidebooks, mobile devices, and oral
guides as teaching media in a guided nature tour, knowledge retention and user satisfac-
45 tion were similar overall for all three media. However, factors such as educational
background did lead to differences in preferences between user groups (Ruchter, Klar,
AQ13
AQ14
10 B.C. Stagg et al.
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
and Geiger 2010). This study argues for the value of using multiple media types in
education to accommodate different learning audiences. A good example is the lichen
identication key produced by Dryades, which is available for computer, mobile device,
5
and as a printable eld guide (Nimis, Wolseley and Martellos 2009).
Tailored Identication Keys
Learning biodiversity specic to locality and relevant to learnerslives is an effective
way of improving intrinsic motivation (motivation driven by an interest or enjoyment in
the task itself), as well as developing stronger nature connections (Lindemann-Matthies
10
2002; Jakel, 2013). By tailoring a key to locality, the students encounter and differentiate
a manageable number of species, an important element of biodiversity learning (Randler
2008; Goulder and Scott 2006; Jakel 2013). An inquiry-based learning approach, where
it is the students that research and produce the key as part of the module coursework, is
another approach to explore. Joutsenvirta and Myyry (2010) described an online biodiver-
15
sity database produced to assist undergraduate biology students. Students had the oppor-
tunity to produce their own digital herbaria and identication resources from eldwork
which, if high quality, were incorporated into the database for the benet of future
students. One of the foci of the European project KeytoNature (2007 to 2010) was the
provision of software that allowed teachers to produce keys tailored to specic user audi-
20
ences, groups of organisms or localities (Martellos 2010a).
Educational Implications of Study
The printed key used in this study was more effective than the electronic key, demon-
strating that such keys are not obsolete as suggested in the literature. A precautionary
note to add is that the study only tests one type of paper-based key and one electronic
25
key, rather than general principles of key types, and the paper-based key in this study
was more efcient in its design than the electronic key. A owchart format is easy to fol-
low and allows for immediate comparisons of similar species, whereas electronic keys
rely on user selection for information displayed. Well-designed printed keys are currently
easier for non IT specialists to produce than multi-access electronic keys of similar qual-
30
ity. Teacher-led keys allowed content to be tailored to curriculum or locality, which, as
explored in the previous section, have much potential for inquiry-based learning and
nature connections.
The design of a key is therefore more important than its presentation medium and care-
ful selection and testing of differentiation cues, terminology, artwork, and key navigabil-
35
ity are required for any key type to be effective. Professionally produced digital keys and
other digital resources have much to offer biological education, particularly the most
recent iPod identication apps. Their potential value in eld biology is determined by the
educational institutions access to suitable mobile devices and the capacity to update these
as newer models supersede existing ones. Finally, the use of multiple media in taxonomic
40
education is, as ever, important for meeting the needs of a range of students and learning
environments.
AQ15
AQ16
AQ17
Bryophytes for Beginners 11
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
Funding
Funding for OPAL was provided by the Big Lottery Fund.
Acknowledgements
5With thanks to all volunteers that participated in the study and Jon Rosewell (Open University) for his
help with the electronic key.
References
Atherton, I., S. Bosanquet, and M. Lawley, eds. 2010. Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland: A
Field Guide. Plymouth: British Bryological Society.
10 Crawford, C. 2002. Bryophytes of Native Woods: A Field Guide to the Common Mosses and Liver-
worts of Britain and Irelands Woodlands.The Natural Resource Consultancy.
Dallwitz, M. J., T. A. Paine, and E. J. Zurcher. 2013. Principles of Interactive Keys.Accessed October
15. http://delta-intkey.com.
Drinkwater, R. E. 2009. Insights into the Development of Online Plant Identication Keys Based on
15 Literature Review: An Exemplar Electronic Key to Australia Drosera.Bioscience Horizons 2 (1).
Edwards, M. 2010. Creating New Bayesian Keys .Accessed December 20, 2013. http://catsh.open.
ac.uk:8080/webkeys/manageKeys.jsp
Farr, D. 2006. On-line Keys: More than Just Paper on the Web.Taxon 55 (3): 589596.
Goulder, R., and G. Scott. 2006. Phytosociology for Undergraduates with Minimal Botanical Back-
20 ground.Journal of Biological Education 41 (1): 2629.
Grace, M. 1995. A Key to the Growth-forms of Mosses and Liverworts and Guide to Their Educa-
tional Value.Journal of Biological Education 29 (4): 272278.
Guarino, R., P. Menegoni, and S. Pignatti. 2010. User Needs for Interactive Identication Tools to
Organisms Employed in the EU-Project KeyToNature.In Tools for Identifying Biodiversity: Pro-
25 gress and Problems, edited by P. L. Nimis and R. Vignes-Lebbe, 405409.
Hagedorn, G., G. Rambold, and S. Martellos. 2010. Types of Identication Keys.In Tools for Identi-
fying Biodiversity: Progress and Problems, edited by P. L. Nimis and R. Vignes-Lebbe, 5964.
Accessed October 15, 2013. http://dbiodbs1.units.it/bioidentify/les/volume_bioidentify_low.pdf.
Jakel, L. 2013. Interest and Learning in Plant Biodiversity, as Inuenced by Teaching Contexts.Päda-
30 gogische Hochschule Heidelberg. Accessed October 15. http://www.ph-heidelberg.de/leadmin/ms-
institute/institut-ngt/dokumente/Interest_in_plant_biodiversity2013.pdf
Krasna, I. K. 2010. Use of Key to Nature Identication Tools in the Schools of Slovenia.In Tools for
Identifying Biodiversity: Progress and Problems, edited by P. L. Nimis and R. Vignes-Lebbe,
379381.
35 Lawrence, A., and W. Hawthorne. 2006. Creating User-friendly Field-guides for Biodiversity Manage-
ment. London: Routledge.
Leggett, R., and B. K. Kirchoff. 2011. Image Use in Field Guides and Identication Keys: Review and
Recommendations.Annals of Botany. Accessed October 15, 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
pmc/articles/PMC3077818
40 Lindemann-matthies, P. 2010. The Inuence of an Educational Program on Childrens Perception of
Biodiversity.The Journal of Environmental Education 33 (2): 2231.
Martellos, S. 2010a. Types of Identication Keys.In Tools for Identifying Biodiversity: Progress and
Problems, edited by P. L. Nimis and R. Vignes-Lebbe, 5964.
Martellos, S. 2010b. Multi-authored Interactive Identication Keys: The FRIDA (FRiendly IDenticA-
45 tion) Package.Taxon 59 (3): 922929.
Morse, D., G. M. Tardival, and J. Spicer. 1996. A Comparison of the Effectiveness of a Dichotomous
Key and a Multi-access Key to Woodlice.Accessed Ocotober 15, 2013. http://kar.kent.ac.uk/
21343/1/WoodliceMorse.pdf.
AQ18
AQ19
AQ20
AQ21
AQ22
AQ23
AQ24
AQ25
AQ26
AQ27
12 B.C. Stagg et al.
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
Newberry, C. 2004. Plants That ArentPlants: Mosses and Liche.In Tested studies for laboratory
5
teaching. Proceedings of the 25th Workshop/Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory
Education (ABLE), , edited by M. A. ODonnell, Vol. 25, 179197.
Randler, C., and A. Birtel. 2008. The System of Pasta’–An Introduction to Dichotomous Keys.
School Science Review 90 (330).
Ruchter, M., B. Klar, and W. Geiger. 2010. Comparing the Effects of Mobile Computers and Tradi-
10
tional Approaches in Environmental Education.Computers & Education 54 (4): 10541067.
Stagg, B. C., and M. Donkin. 2013. Teaching Botanical Identication to Adults: Experiences of UK
Participatory Science Project Open Air Laboratories.Journal of Biological Education 47 (2):
104110.
Taraban, R., C. McKenney, E. Pefey, and A. Applegarth. 2004. Live Specimens More Effective than
15
World Wide Web for Learning Plant Material.Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences
Education 33: 106110.
Tarkus, A., E. Maxl, and C. Kittl. 2010. User Needs for Interactive Identication Tools to Organisms
Employed in the EU-Project KeyToNature.In Tools for Identifying Biodiversity: Progress and
Problems, edited by P. L. Nimis and R. Vignes-Lebbe, 361365.
20
Teolis, I., E. B. Pefey, and D. B. Wester. 2007. Comparing Student Performance in Live versus
Web-based Instruction in Herbaceous Plant Identication.Hort Technology 17 (1): 120124.
Woods, R. G., and B. J. Coppins. 2012. A Conservation Evaluation of British Lichens and Lichenico-
lous Fungi. Species Status 13.Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Peterborough. Accessed
October 15, 2013. http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/pdf/Lichens_Web.pdf.
25
Websites
iSpot. (2013) http://www.ispotnature.org/uk-and-ireland. Viewed on: 13/12/13.
Nimis, L., Wolseley, P., Martellos, S., (2009). http://dbiodbs.units.it/carso/chiavi_pub21_palm?sc=351.
Viewed on: 13/12/13.
Stevenson, R. (2013). http://www.opalexplorenature.org/discover-orchards. Viewed on: 09/13/14.
30
Jones, D. T and Lowe, C. N. (2008). http://www.opalexplorenature.org/Earthwormguide. Viewed on: 09/
13/14.
AQ28
AQ29
AQ30
AQ31
AQ32
Bryophytes for Beginners 13
RJBE 934900 QA: RB
1 July 2014 Initial
... Although electronic identification keys have several advantages over conventional identification keys [as detailed in Farr (2006) and Dallwitz et al. (2000)], the few studies comparing the performance of these different identification keys have showed mixed results. Stagg et al. (2015) showed that the accuracy and speed of woodland moss identification was higher using a traditional dichotomous key than an electronic key, while Seo and Oh (2017) found that orchid species were more accurately identified by senior college students when using an electronic identification key than when using a textual dichotomous key or a guide book based on flower colour. Stagg and Donkin (2017) showed that identifications of United Kingdom (UK) wild flowers were significantly more accurate using an electronic app than a guide book, but that the identification accuracy of UK winter trees was significantly lower when using an electronic app than when using guide books. ...
... These comparative studies indicate that while electronic identification keys such as interactive photographic keys are effective when identifying charismatic species with large and clear morphological characters, they are often ineffective when identifying enigmatic species with cryptic morphological characters. Here cryptic characters (not to be confused with cryptic species) refer to any morphological character which might cause uncertainty or confusion during the identification process due to one or a combination of the following: (1) very small size [e.g., characteristics of leaf margins and venation in mosses (Stagg et al. 2015); minute characters of armoured scale insects (Schneider et al. 2019)], (2) obscure nature [e.g., subtle differences in bud colour of winter trees (Stagg and Donkin 2017); metasternum related characters in some parasitoid wasps (Klimmek and Baur 2018)], (3) intra-specific variation [e.g., flower colour variation in the carnivorous plant genus Drosera L. (Drinkwater 2009); pronotum colour variation in ladybirds (Jouveau et al. 2018)], and (4) complicated structures associated with terminology that is difficult to interpret [e.g., inflorescences of grasses (Fish et al. 2015); thorax morphologies of Brazilian sand flies (Rocha et al. 2019)]. The challenge remains to determine which aspects are critical to produce electronic identification keys that can successfully identify species with cryptic morphological characters. ...
... Contrary to species groups with clearly defined morphological characters (e.g., Jouveau et al. 2018), maximizing the number character options in morphologically difficult groups provides more opportunities for users to select characters that they are certain about (Walter and Winterton 2007;Drinkwater 2009). One caveat of this approach is that it is time consuming to work through many characters (Stagg et al. 2015). However, algorithms giving continual preference to characters with the most discriminatory power, as is the case in Xper 3 , offsets this limitation to some degree (Walter and Winterton 2007;Drinkwater 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
The popularity of electronic identification keys for species identification has increased with the rapid technological advancements of the 21 st century. Although electronic identification keys have several advantages over conventional textual identification keys and work well for charismatic species with large and clear morphological characters, they appear to be less feasible and less effective for species with cryptic morphology (i.e. small, obscure, variable characters and/or complicated structures associated with terminology that is difficult to interpret). This is largely due to the difficulty in presenting and illustrating cryptic morphological characters unambiguously. When taking into account that enigmatic species with cryptic morphology are often taxonomically problematic and therefore likely exacerbate the taxonomic impediment, it is clear that species groups with cryptic morphology (and all the disciplines dependent on their correct identification) could greatly benefit from a user-friendly identification tool, which clearly illustrates cryptic characters. To this end, the aim of this study was to investigate and develop best practices for the unambiguous presentation of cryptic morphological characters using a pilot interactive photographic identification key for the taxonomically difficult plant genus Thesium (Santalaceae), as well as to determine its feasibility. The project consisted of three stages: (1) software platform selection, (2) key construction and (3) key evaluation. The A peer-reviewed open-access journal Natasha Lombard et al. / PhytoKeys 172: 97-119 (2021) 98 proposed identification key was produced with Xper 3 software and can be accessed at http://www.xper3.fr/ xper3GeneratedFiles/publish/identification/1330098581747548637/mkey.html. Methodologies relating to amongst others, character selection and delineation, visual and textual descriptions, key construction, character coding and key evaluation are discussed in detail. Seventeen best practices identified during this study are subsequently suggested for future electronic key compilation of species with cryptic morphology. This study indicates that electronic identification keys can be feasible and effective aids for the identification of species with cryptic morphological characters when the suggested best practices are followed.
... The example can be seen in Figure 4, and available at: http://www.ispotnature.org/ukand-ireland [13]. Users can choose the specimen from the list of photos of the species and characters they want to identify (Figure 3). ...
... In addition, users can review and modify their character choices during identification and compare identification results between similar species to verify them ( Figure 5). [13] 020051-7 6. iOS app on the iPod for plant identification guide. ...
... Example pages of the electronic multi-access key[13] ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Concepts of plant identification and classification were important basic knowledge to be mastered by biology students. The research was aimed to find out what concepts and methods of learning plant taxonomy, and find out the objects and methods in plant taxonomy research. Seventeen articles published from 2005-2019 were selected as the review materials. Nine articles were about learning the plant taxonomy, and eight articles were about research on plant taxonomy. The articles were obtained from Journal of Biological Education and Science Direct. The results showed the common concepts learned about plant identification and classification. The prominent plant groups used in the learning were: the Bryophytes, Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, and Angiosperm with the example of the native species and focal species. The learning methods and approaches were varied, including: using real plant specimens, dichotomous key method, word association exercise based on mnemonics approach, or pictorial card games for identification native plants. Others use an electronic multi-access key, iOS app on the iPod for plant identification guide, interactive multimedia dichotomous key for plant identification, labeled drawing and descriptive writing of native plant identification. Various aspects used as the object of the research on plants taxonomy, one of them was the leaves. Various methods used in the research on plant taxonomy, such as: FRT, LDC Linear, kNN, SIFT, Color moments, SFTA, ANNs, Deep learning techniques, hierarchical approach - NFC, and AIT.
... The influence of UIQ on the teachers decision to use some technology are confirmed in prior studies, for example, Ong et al. (2004) and Wu and Zhang (2014), in which it was concluded that UIQ influences EE and PE as well as CI. A strong relationship between DIK interface quality and its usability among the teachers, students, and amateur botanists has been reported in the literature (Anđić et al., 2021;Jacquemart et al., 2016;Stagg et al., 2015). Jacquemart et al. (2016) stressed that the user-friendly interface of DIK and its screen appearance on mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones are the main factors which determine its acceptance in teaching botanical content in schools. ...
... Anđić et al. (2021) pointed out that DIK interface quality influences the level of knowledge that primary school students gain by using that DIK in plant identification. Silva et al. (2011) and Stagg et al. (2015) concluded that a well-developed DIK interface provides a learning tool that teachers could use to provide a multimedia learning experience to their students which leads to their greater motivation to learn about a higher level of botanical knowledge. It can thus be suggested that the development of DIKs interface quality in one of the main factors which influence teachers' continuance decision, alongside successful usability in terms of student experience. ...
Article
Full-text available
It is hard to imagine biology education without the identification of the species of interest, mostly with the implementation of a dichotomous key. Digital identification keys (DIKs) have been developed and made available to teachers in Montenegro. We investigate the factors, which influence teachers', who had applied the DIK, in their continuing intention to use them in primary schools. The modified unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT), continuance theory, and expectation-confirmation Theories were used for the identification of the factors which influence the teachers' decision about whether to continue to use the DIK. 232 teachers from Montenegro participated in this research. The results indicate that the perceived pedagogical impact and user interface quality has the greatest influence on teachers' continuance intentions (CIs). Performance expectations, effort expectations and technical compatibility have a moderate influence and management support, personal innovativeness and students' expectations have a low influence on teachers' CI of using DIK.
... The goal of this activity was to engage students in the identification of the species introduced in the educational gardens, and it involved the design of dichotomous keys specifically for each of these gardens (Supplementary Data S1-S3). According to the literature, dichotomous keys have long been considered the most important way of learning how to identify new species and were shown to develop differentiation skills such as diagnostic abilities [28]. The present, purposefully built dichotomous keys can now become a useful teaching tool in the forthcoming school years. ...
Article
Full-text available
Educational gardens can be a significant resource in the promotion of environmental education, engaging both the school population and the general public. The main goal of the present study was to implement and assess a hands-on interventional program to promote knowledge and awareness of plant-related topics at a basic school level. We report on a hands-on educational project implemented with 8th-grade Portuguese students (mostly 13–14 years of age), associated with the establishment, on school grounds, of three educational gardens representing distinct Portuguese ecosystems. This was a collaborative project and encompassed several activities and subjects, including garden creation, plant propagation and plant care, plant identification, the study of form–function relationships, and lectures by plant researchers. A survey instrument with pre- and post-test assessments demonstrated the effectiveness of the program in raising student knowledge and awareness on topics centered around the native flora. Specifically, we noted that scores increased in all questions addressing different plant biology-related topics in the post-test assessment. This study supports the benefits of incorporating field/laboratory work and educational gardens in educational programs geared toward plant-oriented environmental education.
... With the development of mobile technology, the on-the-spot identification of organisms became simpler and more efficient, as many interactive identification keys began to emerge that are more fun and easier to use than conventional (paper-printed) identification keys (Pernot & Mathieu, 2010). Stagg, Donkin, and Smith (2015) have found that a mobile device key for identifying tree species represents an effective tool. Anđić et al. (2018) have demonstrated that digital dichotomous keys contribute to higher quality of acquired knowledge in comparison with printed dichotomous keys. ...
Article
Experiential learning was introduced to support a child’s concept development towards evolution scientific literacy. This study examined the effect of an experiential learning model (The Mobile Natural Science Learning - MNSL) on the knowledge of 4th grade primary school students in Slovenia, during natural science school lessons at the seashore through the use of tablets. Mobile technology provides authentic learning, assisting outdoor lessons providing material and environmental context in learning, which support the experience of a learner. In the experimental group (N = 95), outdoor learning in the seashore included Kolb’s experiential learning cycle with the integration of tablets. In the control group (N=97), the teachers used concrete experience for exploring the seashore, excluding the Kolb’s cycle. The data were collected by using two science knowledge pre and post – tests. The test items were classified into three TIMSS’ cognitive domains: 1) factual knowledge, 2) conceptual understanding, and 3) reasoning and analysis. Differences between groups were analysed through Mann-Whitney U-test and showed that the experimental group had better learning outcomes than the control group. Findings indicate that the MNSL-model had a positive effect on students’ achievement in science, more precisely in knowledge on marine organisms and life at the seashore. Keywords: Kolb’s experiential learning cycle, natural science, outdoor learning, seashore
... The results of previous research have shown that dichotomous keys (in both printed and digital form) are very effective teaching tools for preparing pupils for: competitions (Bajd, Mati, and Mati 2001;Bajd, Mati, and Pavlovič 2002), the improvement in students' skills and abilities in independent work (Bromham and Oprandi 2006), the improvement of students' motivation for the acquisition of botanical content (Silva et al. 2011), the achievement of the scientific principle in biology teaching (Randler and Zehender 2006), and offering greater opportunities for students to learn from their mistakes (Marsh et al. 2012). In addition, the dichotomous keys proved to be more effective in comparison to the illustrated identification book in developing the critical thinking of students (Randler and Zehender 2006); when using card-game and wordassociation methods in developing students' skills (Stagg and Donkin 2013); and when using multiple-choice keys in terms of ease of usebecause they require less decisionmaking, i.e. the determination of species (Hagedorn, Rambold, and Martellos 2010), e.g. the determination of mosses (Stagg, Donkin, and Smith 2015). ...
Article
Background: Exploring using constructivist learning has become a focus of educational research in recent years. However, no available research has been found which examines the contribution of constructivist learning through the implementation of handheld computers and tablets (in the literature, a constructivist mobile learning environment refers to constructivist learning with the implementation of mobile devices) to student knowledge across cognitive levels, while their opinion on that contribution in biological education in primary schools is as yet unreported. Purpose: The main aim of this research is to examine the contribution of the Dichotomous Mobile Key (DMK) and the Dichotomous Printed Key (DPK), implemented in the classroom through constructivist learning, to student achievement and the sustainability of the primary school students' biological knowledge about the Systematic and classification of plants at all cognitive levels. The research also analyses students' opinions about the applied dichotomous keys in the constructivist learning process and the correlation between student knowledge and their opinion about the application of the DMK or the DPK. Design and methods: This research uses a quasi-experimental design and involved 140 eight-grade students from Montenegro assigned to two experimental groups, learning through: 1) the DPK (Group C) and 2) the DMK (Group E). Results and conclusions: The results indicate that studying using a DMK is more suitable than a DPK for learning botany in primary schools when implementing a constructivist approach. This is because the DMK is better suited to enhancing some elements of certain constructivist approaches, notably eliciting students’ prior knowledge; facilitating exploratory learning; creating cognitive dissonance; and receiving continuous feedback during the entire learning process. The contribution of the DMK is greater than that of the DPK to students’ knowledge and opinions to the contribution of the applied dichotomous key to their knowledge and greater desire to learn about plants.
Article
p style="text-align: justify;">Teaching about biodiversity and its conservation could be an effective way to teach the importance of different species and human dependence on ecological support systems. This study compares the effectiveness of a digital and a paper-based dichotomous identification key for teaching pre-service teachers about plant species diversity. Twenty-four Slovenian teachers in pre-service training used a digital version of the key on tablet computers and twenty-nine used a paper-based version to identify woody species in the garden near their university faculty. Both keys contained the same species, identical photographs and the same sequence of steps to identify the species. The accuracy and time taken to identify the five species were measured. The participants also completed a questionnaire about the usability of the identification key. Overall, both versions of the key were equally good for determining species names. The digital version of the key was found to be more time-effective than the paper version only when multiple identification steps were required to identify species. The results confirm that those who scored better on the identification tasks have a better general opinion about the usability of the key; especially students using digital version of the key. Implications for teachers using or creating identification keys are discussed in the conclusion.</p
Article
This practice-based research project involved creating and using a set of teaching resources to engage undergraduate art and design students with plants. The resources addressed learner preferences for engaging with different modes of representations and involved three types of visual encounters with plants. Students engaged with realistic representations, botanically accurate illustrations and actual plants themselves. The use of these resources drew attention to the distinction between botanical and artistic understandings of plants and highlighted the relevance of considering multiple modes of engagements while designing pedagogical initiatives to study plants through art and design.
Chapter
Science curricula that integrate more research and research like experiences are getting internationally increased support from preschool to university level (e.g., Bybee, 2011; NAAEE, 2019; NRC, 2012; OECD, 2018). The National Research Council (NRC, 2012) is emphasizing process skills, i.e., asking questions, defining problems, conducting investigations, interpreting and using evidence, constructing explanations and designing solutions.
Thesis
Full-text available
Novel approaches for counteracting plant blindness
Article
Full-text available
Taxonomic education and botany are increasingly neglected in schools and universities, leading to a ‘missed generation’ of adults that cannot identify organisms, especially plants. This study pilots three methods for teaching identification of native plant species to forty-three adults engaged in the participatory science project ‘Open Air Laboratories’ (OPAL). The three teaching methods (dichotomous key, word association exercise based on a mnemonic approach and pictorial card game) proved equally effective in teaching plant identification to participants for the groups of plants used. The dichotomous key is an established method for teaching transferrable identification skills, whilst the other two methods could be useful tools for stimulating initial interest and awareness in novices. The reasons for the decline in botanical knowledge are discussed, alongside the importance of using appealing identification resources and making botany relevant to people’s lives.
Article
Full-text available
Taxonomic education and botany are increasingly neglected in schools and universities, leading to a ‘missed generation’ of adults that cannot identify organisms, especially plants. This study pilots three methods for teaching identification of native plant species to forty-three adults engaged in the participatory science project ‘Open Air Laboratories’ (OPAL). The three teaching methods (dichotomous key, word association exercise based on a mnemonic approach and pictorial card game) proved equally effective in teaching plant identification to participants for the groups of plants used. The dichotomous key is an established method for teaching transferrable identification skills, whilst the other two methods could be useful tools for stimulating initial interest and awareness in novices. The reasons for the decline in botanical knowledge are discussed, alongside the importance of using appealing identification resources and making botany relevant to people’s lives.
Article
Full-text available
In this study, the author investigated the influence of the educational program Nature on the Way to School on children's everyday perception of species. More than 4,000 children (8–16 years old) from 248 classes in Switzerland participated in the study. Possible influences of the program were evaluated with the help of pretest and posttest questionnaires completed by test-group and control-group teachers and students. Participation in the program significantly increased the number and diversity of species that children noticed on the way to school; the positive effects increased with the time spent on the program. The program had a similar positive effect on both younger and older children and on girls and boys.
Article
FRIDA (FRiendly IDentificAtion) is a new software application for producing multi–authored interactive identification keys, which can be published on the Web, stored on optical devices, and used on mobile devices as PDAs and Smartphones, both on–line or in stand–alone mode. FRIDA is based on a double–level architecture, which grants to the authors that are involved in multi–authored projects a high degree of independence while working on their data, and several instruments to control and modify the final result of the elaboration of the keys. FRIDA can produce keys from the data by one author only, as well as keys from data by several different authors, merged together into new and original entities. In this paper we discuss the most interesting features of the FRIDA package, and detail the process of generation of an identification key.
Article
A study was conducted to evaluate student performance after receiving the same horticultural lesson through one of two modes of instruction. Students enrolled in an introductory horticulture course received either a traditional herbaceous plant identification (ID) lesson with live plant specimens or the same lesson using only text and photographs on the Internet in one of their laboratory sessions. A follow-up experiment was conducted in which web-based students studied photographs of the exact same plants studied by students receiving traditional instruction. Learning style preferences and demographic information were obtained from surveys. For both experiments, students receiving traditional instruction had higher scores on the plant ID quiz than web-based students. All students were able to identify plants from photographs just as well as from live plant specimens. Visual learners scored higher when receiving traditional instruction when compared with web-based instruction. Student grade point average was positively correlated with quiz score for both experiments.
Article
An important prerequisite for successful conservation is a good understanding of what we seek to conserve. Nowhere is this more the case than in the fight to protect plant biodiversity, which is threatened by human activity in many regions worldwide. This book is written in the belief that tools that enable more people to understand biodiversity can not only aid protection efforts but also contribute to rural livelihoods. Among the most important of those tools is the field guide. Plant Identification provides potential authors of field guides with practical advice about all aspects of producing user-friendly guides which help to identify plants for the purposes of conservation, sustainable use, participatory monitoring or greater appreciation of biodiversity. The book draws on both scientific and participatory processes, supported by the experience of contributors from across the tropics. It presents a core process for producing a field guide, setting out key steps, options and techniques available to the authors of a guide and, through illustration, helps authors choose methods and media appropriate to their context.
Article
Mosses and liverworts have considerable potential as a resource for use in environmental studies. However, these small plants are seldom studied in the field, mainly because they can be difficult to identify. It is suggested that this identification problem may be circumvented by using a system of classification of growth-form types, similar to the kind used for lichens in atmospheric pollution studies. Each growth-form is related to a characteristic range of environmental conditions. This article outlines the value of bryophyte growth-forms as an educational resource and includes a key to growth-forms, developed and tested with teachers, students, and naturalists. The key is easy to use and one does not need to be familiar with bryophyte taxonomy or theories on the adaptive significance of structural characteristics.
Article
This paper presents some results of the testing of several new interactive e-tools for learning and teaching biodiversity in the schools of Slovenia. The tools were developed in the frame of the ongoing eContentplus European project KeyToNature, in such a way to make them tailored to the needs of different educational users. We found out that identification of organisms with these tools is not only easy for students, but also for primary school children who had just learned to read.
Article
The EU-funded project KeyToNature is developing and optimising interactive tools for identifying organisms, making them suitable for being usable in the field of formal education across Europe. To define the requirements of the target audience, research was conducted in 11 partner countries during an initial project phase. Teachers and lecturers from primary schools to university level were asked to express their views about selected existing identification tools in a qualitative survey. The target audience was asked about perception, strengths and optimisation options, output channels and pedagogical application fields. The results showed that the adaption of the tools to the range of local organisms and the native language of the audience represents a fundamental step.