Plant Health Program, Doctor of


First Advisor

Gary L. Hein

Document Type


Date of this Version



A Doctoral Document Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Plant Health, Major: Plant Health, Under the Supervision of Professor Gary L. Hein. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2022

Copyright © 2022 Amy Danielle Hauver


Learning is a complex, subjective process. An important perspective on learning is that anyone, regardless of their level of education, can participate in learning about science and contribute to their community. The public increasingly looks towards online resources to find answers to challenges, so it is necessary that people become empowered to take information about issues rooted in science and apply them to their own lives and communities. In my experiences as a learner and educator, understanding the learning process provides a framework to design successful learning environments.

Since the brain is the organ most closely associated with the process of learning, learning environments should be modeled to reflect how the brain learns. Brain biology research reveals the nature of learning as four fundamental actions: information gathering, reflective thinking, creating meaning, and testing ideas. These four pillars of learning should be used to support lifelong learning needs of society by adapting the learning environment to the needs of a learner and their individual learning process. The purpose of this document is to present a framework based on the four pillars of learning to strengthen the design of online learning content and better address learning needs of the individual, adult learner. This framework has been applied to the development of online modules addressing the genetics of the development of pesticide resistance.

Advisor, Gary L. Hein