Friday, January 20, 2017

Beginnings in ethnobotany including fern walk

The term opened with the Internet dysfunctional at best. I dropped the usual term start of moving upstairs to A204 to log students into Schoology and opted instead to use a nice sunny afternoon to go for a walk and talk that meandered down to the Clerodendrum inerme, Ocimum tenuiflorum, and Scaevola taccada.

Day two I dropped the class start machete safety videos, again, due to loss of the Internet. I asked the class to meet at the agriculture area. This provided extra time for plant identification.

Day three the class met southeast of the gym. I gave a tour of the ethnogarden and the Haruki cemetery. Then the class did some clean-up on the ethnogarden side. The meeting in the field on days two and three provided more field time. Each day I handed out lists of plants. The ethnobotany final was handed out day one. The Latin key plant list was handed out day three with invasives listed on the back. The monilophyte and lycophyte flora in the text was copied to LibreOffice for reformatting to a single double sided and handed out day four for the fern walk.

With the FujiFilm XP100 slowly dying, I decided to shoot images on the primitive plant hike using my Motorola Moto G4 Play. The shot above is from the lead plant from the walk: moss. On enlargement one can see the spore capsules and operculum.

Davillia solida with sori on the east side of the campus. I covered mosses and D. solida at the start, delaying departure to 15:35.

The class then had a long hike across campus. The sun had withered the Nostoc, so I dropped Nostoc this term. Upon reaching the southwestern ridge top, I could not locate any Lycopodiella cernua. None. There were signs that L. cernua had been recently harvested. This means that I now know of only two plants on campus. I am opting not to show the class L. cernua this term. The class did see Dicranopteris linearis.

Along the way into the forest I found a nicely fertile Nephrolepis frond.

A lycophyte: Huperzia phlegmaria. Used for mwarmwar.

The class at the top of the ravine. Up here I covered Microsorum scolopendria and the meaning of a mwarmwar, also the meaning for Asplenium nidus.

Possibly Asplenium laserpitiifolium.

Another image of A. laserpitiifolium

A third of A. laserpittifolium. No local name yet known.

Possibly A. polyodon. Mahrekenleng.

Angiopteris evecta, peiwed, poaiwed. This plant is atop the slope off to the left of the trail. Being here removes the need to go down to the river. There is also Antrophyum reticulatum and Huperzia phlegmaria back around to the circling left on top of the hill. Perhaps the hike should circle back along the forest edge and then back up towards the gym via the Japanese trench spur.

Fertile frond on Angiopteris evecta.

Another shot of the sori on A. evecta.

Down slope a short ways, fertile frond on Mahrekenleng.

Fern not yet positively known to me. Perhaps peipei eni?

Asplenium nidus on the left. Cyclosorus maemonensis on the forest floor.

Posing in the forest, a nice specimen of Asplenium nidus in the background. Down here I covered the issue of command and control in a nahs, the quite nature of the ancient kamadipw, and the spiritual nature of the forest. Down here there is only the sound of the water, the birds, the forest.

Antrophyum reticulatum (G. Forst) (indigenous) (Syn callifolium Blume, Antrophyum ponapense).  Tehlikinwel

Antrophyum reticulatum.

Huperzia phlegmaria.

Another fern yet to be positively identified by me.

 Haploteris elongata (Sw.). Syn. Vittaria elongata.

Another A. laserpitiifolium with the sun behind the frond. The hike was unusual for the dry sunny weather.

Starting the term without the first couple days in a computer laboratory is a more appropriate start to this outdoor oriented class. This does delay Schoology login and requires maintaining a manual paper trail further into the term. The result, however, is more time in the field and a start that centers on plants and the out of doors.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Peanut Mars and Murrie Statistics

For fifteen years statistics started with gathering data on body metrics and then launching into a lecture driven course. In 2008 I added statistics projects to the lecture and test mix. The statistics projects did not result in increased student engagement with statistics. In 2013 the experiment with projects was replaced with exercises in open data exploration. In 2015 the open data explorations were capped off by a single student presentation. In subsequent terms the number of end of term presentations would be increased. The course was still structured around a lecture and test format in the first eleven to twelve weeks of the course, and three to four weeks of open data exploration. In an attempt to integrate a more problem based learning approach to learning in statistics, in fall 2016 the curriculum was altered to include open data exploration and presentations from start of the term.

As I approached fall term 2016 I realized, while out on a run, that I wanted to start the term by walking into class and saying, "Presentations are due on Friday. Any questions?" The data source for the presentation had to be something fun and the statistical aspect had to be accomplished on essentially zero knowledge. In the realm of statistics there is a widely known known statistical exploration exercise based on the work of Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie seventy-five years ago.

Spring 2017 saw limited supplies of plain MMs on island and forced a switch to peanut MMs. With an alternate vendor charging $1.29 a bag, the MMs were obtained from Yoshie where they were a dollar a bag, with a discount on the 48 count case. The petty cash request preceded registration. As a result an estimate based on the fall term was used to request seventy-two dollars. By Friday morning 51 students were enrolled in the class. With registration continuing into Friday afternoon, a purchase was executed of 54 bags.

Day one attendance was problematic with 10 of 25 absent at 8:00 and 9 of 26 absent at 9:00. No 10:00 section was run this term. Add/drop saw the addition of only a couple students to the 8:00 section during Monday afternoon. They were given MMs and the weight of their bag.

I opened the 8:00 class with the "Presentations due Friday" gambit, and immediately a student asked what to present on. In the 9:00 class there was a long silence. I outwaited the long silence, an acquired skill. A student finally had the gumption to ask, "What are we presenting on?" And then I brought out the MMs and the question sheets.

In both classes I did outline some of the Internet issues the island is facing at this particular time, and I presented software options that they might use.

Wednesday was a working day. I attempted to show the Death by PowerPoint video at 8:00. The video made it about 75% of the way through the video when the bandwidth choked off due to the fiber optic cable undergoing repair. At 9:00 I could not start the video. Those who were partnered on Monday continued to work. Some partners had lost a partner due to course drop, those who had lost a partner opted to work alone.

One student on Monday had tried to pick an absent partner, I denied that request. The partner of choice showed up Wednesday, but so did other absentees along with course adds. These were paired up. I still had MMs and I had brought the scale, so those who started Wednesday were starting from the same materials as those who started Monday.

In one instance I added a add to a existing pair to form a trio.

Sweena, Shannon, and Rufus

On Wednesday afternoon three alumni of ethnobotany including one who had taken statistics previously added the class. I had the MMs and scale in my office. I asked if they wanted to work as a threesome, even though one student was in the 8:00 section and two in the 9:00. Although the 8:00 member would be absent Friday, the 9:00 team would go ahead and do a solid presentation on zero class hours including an excellent histogram chart.

Chart by Dannia

Arriving early on Friday I downloaded the few submissions that came in via Schoology. I also had to download those submitted via email.

Sunet and Jaysleen

The wireless keyboard and mouse are not working in A204, so I also had to switch the keyboard and mouse to the back USB ports to permit students to run presentations off of flash drives. This did open up the opportunity to edit during class, I would have had to disrupt presentations to ask students not to tweak presentations during class. The temptation to fix a discovered error based on the presentations being shown is irresistible for anyone.

Given that I had not shown Death by PowerPoint, I could not mark the presentations for appropriate use of the software. And while a dark background works well in a low light conference room with a pin spot on the speaker, in a classroom on a SMART board the dark backgrounds pick up light reflections. Yes, the lights could be turned off. Bear in mind that with the need to access the USB ports on the computer in the cabinet below the screen, the lights would have had to go on and off.

Perhaps a new, shorter PowerPoint that covers the key ideas of slide design and brain function ought to be sought.

Leah and Regina

By Wednesday afternoon and the end of the add drop period there were only four bags of MMs left which meant that 50 of the 54 bags had been distributed. Although drops and adds technically increased the overall number of students beyond the original 51, the number purchased was not exceeded.

The presentations went well. The students cited, often without knowing the terms, concepts such as mode, average number per color, and generated nominal level histograms. They also showed an ability with the software and a willingness to cope with the sketchy Internet situation at present. This remains a strong way to start the term and sets the tone for the rest of the term. Beginnings are ever so important, and this starts the course off on solid footing.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Rolling over a course to a new term in Schoology

This is the time of year when I remember how much I forget, the time of year when I am rolling over educational assets in Schoology from one term to the next. I forget and then rediscover that there is a sequence to the work. This article is a broad brush strokes sketch of the process, a set of notes to my future self more than anything else.

Start by saving the existing course materials to personal resources from the Materials: Options menu in the pre-existing course. This saves the materials as a folder with resources. My Resources are already set up with separate folders for each subject, I put the new resources folder inside the appropriate existing subject area folder.

Next I spawn a new section using Courses: See All: Add Section.

The next step is to set term from the Gradebook: Grade setup: Grading Periods & Final Weights by clicking on the Edit button to the right of this section.

I often forget to set the term first, and the result is that when I populate the new section with materials, they import without being assigned a term. When I later add the term, the existing materials do not inherit the term assignment. The materials remain unassigned to a term. The result for the user is that assignments "do not appear" in the Gradebook. Actually, the materials are there, but they are listed under a "(No grading period) option buried in a drop down menu of the Gradebook. The fix is to set the term first. If, as I often do, one forgets, then each class assignment will have to be individually assigned to the current term from a Grading options setting in the individual assignment.*

This term a pre-existing Spring 2017 was available. I chose to use the existing term although technically that term closes on the last day of finals rather than the last day to submit grades.

After setting up the term in the new section, I navigate back to the pre-existing course. From Gradebook: Grade Setup I use the Copy Settings button to copy the existing Categories, Grading Scales, and Rubrics to the new section. I think of this as "copying forward." One cannot "reach back" from the new section and import these items, one has to navigate to the pre-existing section. Note that accessing this section will require navigating to Courses: See All: Archived as the pre-existing section has likely already been archived.

Then I return to the new section and Import from Resources the materials I previously saved.

I then navigate to the desired previously saved materials.

Drill into the Statistics folder.

While apparently I could import the whole folder, I have not tried this option. I drill into the folder.

And then click on the Title check box to select all materials.

And then press import.

I will have to go into each assignment and set up due dates, lock dates, and make any editing changes I might want to make, but the bulk of my work in setting up the course is complete. This leaves me more time to redevelop materials and make curricular adjustments.

One other roll over task is also done at this point. I remove the "drop lowest" quiz/homework setting in the Gradebook: Grade Setup. Leaving those in causes the lowest assignment to be dropped when the second assignment is submitted. When this happens early in the term, this confuses the observant student. I set the "drop lowest" setting back to zero.

And, yes, one of the first things I do is give each section a unique profile picture. These pictures appear in the Courses: menu and provide an additional visual cue for the student.

* Manually setting the Category term post-hoc

Clicking on Grading options opens up the term setting control

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Assessing Learning in Ethnobotany

SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany proposes* to serve four program learning outcomes through three course level outcomes. The course serves learning outcomes in general education, the Micronesian studies program, and the Agriculture and Natural Resources program.

GE 3.4 Define and explain scientific concepts, principles, and theories of a field of science. 1. Identify local plants, their reproductive strategies, and morphology.
GE 4.2 Demonstrate knowledge of the cultural issues of a person’s own culture and other cultures.

MSP 2 Demonstrate proficiency in the geographical, historical, and cultural literacy of the Micronesian region.
2. Communicate and describe the cultural use of local plants for healing, as food, as raw materials, and in traditional social contexts.
ANR 2 Demonstrate basic competencies in the management of land resources and food production. 3. Demonstrate basic field work competencies related to management of culturally useful plant resources and foods.


Identify local plants, their reproductive strategies, and morphology.

The twenty (14 female, 6 male) students in the course engaged in a number of activities in support of this learning outcome. Vegetative morphology was supported by a field identification walks and presentations. Reproductive strategies were also communicated via student presentations. Identification of local plants permeated every outing, field trip, and hike.

Scaevola taccada, remek on Pohnpei

Eighteen of the twenty students attended the field final examination exercise. Two students reported encountering transportation problems for the final examination. The final examination occurred late in the day, at 4:20 P.M., and the students alleged that they were unable to find transport from Kolonia at that time.

One student started the final examination but did not complete the final examination. The student was an international student unfamiliar with plants and in particular unfamiliar with the plants of Micronesia. Although other international students have taken the course, the final examination, and succeeded, this particular student had done well enough during the term that the final examination was not going to substantively affect their grade. The student seemed unprepared for the final examination and submitted at the start of the examination without work done.

The final examination involved a walk on campus and required the remaining 17 students present to identify twenty local plants. The students had to identify the plants by Latin binomial, local name, and provide a specific use for the plant.

The students had a list of 75 Latin binomials for plants found on and around the Paies, Palikir, campus to assist with the Latin name identification. This represented an increase of two plants over the prior term. Ocimum tenuiflorum and Scaevola taccada were the new additions.

Collectively, the 17 sudents made 279 correct Latin binomial identifications out of 340 possible identifications for an 82% success rate. This success rate was statistically identical to the 84% spring 2016, and the 84% success rate spring 2015 for sixteen plants. Fall 2015 the Latin name identification success rate lifted to 97% for sixteen plants. Student performance on this metric appears to be variable term-on term.

The students made 327 correct local name identifications out of the 340 possible identifications for a success rate of 96%. In the spring of 2016 this rate fell to 87%, this term the success rate returned to previously seen success rates. Fall 2015 the success rate was 97%, spring 2015 the success rate was 96%.

Performance across the past four terms has remained above 80% on all three areas of the final examination: Latin binomials, local names, and local uses.  This term marked the second term for the use of twenty plants on the final examination. In prior terms sixteen plants were on the final examination. The Latin flora list has also grown with each term. Each term the final is more demanding and challenging.


Communicate and describe the cultural use of local plants for healing, as food, as raw materials, and in traditional social contexts.


Students engaged in presentations on healing plants, plants as food, plants used for material culture, and wrote two essays during the course of the term on the cultural use of plants. Essays were marked using rubrics provided one the day one calendar and syllabus.


For the twenty plants on the final examination, the seventeen students were collectively able to cite 331 uses for the 340 instances, a success rate of 97%, which represented a return rates seen in the past. Spring 2016 the success rate on this material fell to 84%, however fall 2015 the success rate was identical to this term at 97%. The prior spring, spring 2015, the success rate was 93%.


Fourteen of the twenty students (70%) turned in the first essay on healing plants and integrative medicine. This was comparable to the 72% submission rate of spring 2016, and remain improved from the 54% turn-in rate for fall 2015. Performance on the first essay was strong with a 94% average. Spring 2016 the average was lower at 72%.

The second essay on the loss of material culture saw an identical 70% submission rate. Of the six students who did not turn in the material culture essay, three also did not submit the healing plants essay. This represented an increase from the submission rate for the very weak spring 2016 submission rate of 58%. The average on the material culture essay was 79%, weaker than the performance on the healing plants essay, but stronger than the 67% average on the material culture essay of spring 2016.


Demonstrate basic field work competencies related to management of culturally useful plant resources and foods.

Students tended to a banana tree collection and engaged in maintaining ethnobotanical plant collections on campus.


The students worked with bananas from production on the land to the kitchen to the table. The collection also provided a living banana herbarium and assisted in teaching students the diversity of bananas. 

Pounded boiled bananas

Students also tended to ethnobotanically useful plant collections and learned to identify threats to 
food production such as invasive species.

Clidemia hirta

April, Natasha, and Georgene surrounded by Ischaemum polystachyum

Performance on the final examination across multiple terms

Long term final examination success rates

A longer time frame indicates that the final examination performance is fairly stable over the past four years. From 2002 to 2005 the course had a course content oriented final examination. From 2005 to 20012 (not shown on the chart above, did not yield percentages) the course ended with a final essay examination. In 2012 the course shifted to using the present format of naming plants and explaining their uses in a field final practical examination. In 2012 there were twelve plants on the final. This was later increased to 16 plants. Spring 2016 this increased to 20 plants. In the fall of 2016 the twenty plant format was retained. 

Part of this increase in the number of plants is due to the intentional evolution of the campus and environs as a living herbarium. The conversion of the Pohnpei Campus Traditional Plants Garden to an agriculture/food crops focus has led to the development of the Palikir campus as an ethnobotanical garden and living herbarium.

A separate affective domain assessment article looked at what most contributed to a student's learning, what obstacles impeded their learning, whether they interacted with the textbook, and questions of favored and disfavored activities in the course. The survey suggested ways in which the course might be improved. The expansion of the number of plants in the campus collection and the parallel increase in the number of plants on the final examination suggest improving the flora in the current locally produced textbook. That work is planned to be ongoing in 2017 and will eventually lead to a revised edition of the textbook.

* The current course outline dates to circa 2007. In 2011 the college undertook reformatting all outlines at the college, but instructors were instructed to not change content at that time. That meant that the outline approved in 2012 was still the outline designed in 2007. In the wake of a decision to include the course as a required course in the two-year Agriculture and Natural Resources program, revised outline was prepared and submitted after 2012. As the outline document saw changes in the format specifications, the outline was appropriately modified. The reformatted outline was again submitted for consideration in the fall of 2016. The proposed outline has yet to be considered by the appropriate bodies. There has no been no change in the core student learning outcomes, the change is rather an addition of outcomes in light of the inclusion in the ANR requirements.