Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Journal of Geoscience Education 59, 194-204 (2011); DOl: 10.5408/1.3651402


Evolving computer technology is offering opportunities for new online approaches in teaching methods and delivery. Well-designed web-based (online) lessons should reinforce the critical need of the soil science discipline in today's food, energy, and environmental issues, as well as meet the needs of the diverse clientele with interest in agricultural and/ or environmental disciplines. The objectives of the project were to: (1) develop web-based lessons in soil genesis and development and (2) evaluate context-based case studies or application lessons (agronomic, environmental, and ecological situations) to teach soil genesis and development. Six principles lessons, along with three applications lessons, were developed for use by undergraduate soil science courses. Pre- and post-tests were used to assess learning gains. A postactivity survey was also used to assess perceptions of the web-based lessons by student users. Students' test performance from pre- to post-test improved by 69%. Although there were no differences in post-test gains among learning styles, or between genders, the students majoring in professional golf management had higher post-test gains than other majors. Since their inception in 2006, lessons have continued to be both primary and supplemental resources for multiple courses serving over 140 students each year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Oregon State University-Cascades. The lessons will be especially useful for teachers who do not have extensive training in soil science yet cover the subject as part of a basic earth science course.