Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Agronomy & Plant Genetics, in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), employs a 31-member faculty and, along with Horticultural Science, supports majors in Plant Science and Food Systems. These two majors enroll about 150 students who will enter careers in industry, government, and academia. Plant Science majors take required courses and develop personalized programs of study in breeding, turf science, floriculture, production agriculture, nursery management and more. Food Systems majors learn about the social, economic, and environmental components of food systems, and what drives food system change in our communities. By the time they graduate in either program, students need to be able to communicate about complex issues ranging from genetics to sustainable agriculture to bioenergy in ways that are appropriate for diverse stakeholder audiences including interdisciplinary scientific communities, industrial communities, and the lay public.
Implementation activities in Agronomy and Plant Genetics include regular faculty/grad student lunches to discuss writing assignments and assessment. Using curriculum mapping, faculty have identified which specific writing abilities are taught and evaluated in key courses of the majors. In laboratory courses, instructors are developing a common model and rubric for lab reports and lab notebooks. Faculty are also experimenting with models of online peer review. Several courses have used short writing instruction modules called “5-minute writing workshops.” In class, students look at weak and strong examples of writing and determine strengths and weaknesses.