Students majoring in Plant Sciences and enrolled in PLSCI 1110 presented their ePortfolios on November 16 at an afternoon open house in 404 Plant Science. PLSCI 1110 “Collaboration, Leadership, and Career Skills in the Plant Sciences”, taught by Marvin Pritts and Leah Cook, provides students with opportunities to meet other students and faculty associated with the Plant Sciences Major; develop collaboration, leadership, and career skills in the discipline; and make connections with the world beyond the campus. Thirty-one students are currently enrolled in the class.
Students at the Thursday event come to the Plant Sciences Major from diverse backgrounds, but all reflected enthusiastically upon their experiences at Cornell. Grace Hageman, a freshman from Wisconsin, described how her high school experiences with Future Farmers of America and international travel had contributed to her interest in ethnobotany and decision to minor in Spanish. Katherine Cooke, a sophomore transfer from University of Vermont double majoring in Plant Sciences and Environmental and Sustainability Sciences, discussed her interest in ecological sustainability and climate change adaptation. Several, including Cooke, Martha Williams, and Drew Gustafson, emphasized their commitment to communicating science and the importance of plants to youth and the wider community.
ePortfolios function as an online curriculum vitae, capturing student training, experiences and interests using a variety of media. Students in the Plant Science Major are required to add to their ePortfolios throughout their course of study, including information on courses, papers, and projects, a reflection on an out-of-class experience, seminar summaries, and research experience where relevant. Each student’s final portfolio is presented to their faculty advisor to show that learning objectives have been achieved.
Leah Cook commented that one of the main goals of PPLSCI 1110 is to build a sense of community among the students before they move through the core curriculum together. Students reflected that the process of creating ePortfolios was useful for reflecting on what they had done and identifying areas in need of attention. With regard to their Cornell experience, several commented that the Plant Sciences Major felt like a small school where faculty know and care about you in an environment having all the opportunities and resources of a big research university.