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Monday, January 28, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: ASHS
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A study out of Texas State University delves into what educational methods will most effectively and efficiently guide student attitudes concerning invasive species and their potential environmental threat. Tina Waliczek, Kathryn Parsley, Paula Williamson, and Florence Oxley examined this question within their article entitled Curricula Influence College Student knowledge and Attitudes Regarding Invasive Species as found in HortTechnology journal.

Negative impacts from invasive species present a global problem. Consequently, invasive species biology has emerged as an important subdiscipline of conservation biology.

“The purpose of this study was to determine if a lecture, a lecture and laboratory learning model, or both influence college student learning gains and whether increase in knowledge results in changes in attitudes about invasive species.”

One realization that may slow revelatory alarm on this topic is the fact that very few ecosystems in the world are completely free of introduced species, and an increasing proportion of habitats is becoming dominated by them. It’s the commonplace nature of this phenomenon that may leave common perception all too relaxed regarding the severity of what this means in reality. After all, research demonstrates that invasive species decrease species diversity, have negative economic impact, and threaten human health.

Recognition of threats posed by invasive species has led to increasing pressure to control and eradicate them. Yet, control and eradication have proven controversial. Limited public perception and uninformed opinion have carried a negative impact on measures to protect a given habitat from the harm these introduced variables can generate.

So the operating theory holds that education is among the keys to success in this venture. To measure the best-approach educational curricula, the researchers uses a pre- and posttest instrument that measured knowledge and attitudes of invasive species and was administered to several different classes of students. One group of students received a lecture and laboratory curricula between the pre- and posttest. A second group of students received only a lecture between their pre- and posttest. And a third group received no instruction at all between tests.

Waliczek adds, “Public education plays a vital role in developing positive attitudes and securing support for invasive species management. Our study showed that higher education can influence college students’ knowledge and attitudes toward environmental issues.”

The lecture was in the form of an electronic presentation, whereas the laboratory curriculum included a case study, a visual aid, and a scavenger hunt to educate students about examples of invasive plant and animal species.

In all classes and groups, there were at least 2 weeks between administering the pre- and posttest. Results showed that the third group scores, those involving no instruction, were not different between pre- and posttest. However, both the lecture-only and the lecture and laboratory groups had scores that changed after receiving their separate curricula, indicating that both methods had some beneficial impact in helping students to become more educated about invasive species.

Waliczek continued, “Sometimes, people think that we possibly outgrow the need for hands-on learning and, especially in this time of an overabundance of technological learning, we lean towards looking at photos on our phones or computer. This study showed that college students responded best when we had an approach that included some field study of species.”


The complete article is available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site:  DOI: 10.21273/HORTTECH03979-18. Or you may contact Tina Waliczek of Texas State University at or call her at (512) 245-3324.

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticulture Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticulture research, education, and application. More information at



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