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Plant Madness: A classroom game using bracketology for horticulture plant identification courses

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Miller, Chad T. (main author), Kansas State University
Journal article
Publication Date:
United States: American Society for Horticultural Science
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois
Subject Term:
colleges, educational methods, games, horticulture, learning, public speaking, surveys, universities, creativity, classroom, bracketology, plant identification, activities
6 pages., Via online journal., Plant Madness was a classroom activity developed and implemented for the Landscape Plants II identification course at Kansas State University. The game was modeled after the National Collegiate Athletic Association college basketball March Madness tournament and Bracketology. One activity objective was to provide students an opportunity to learn new and recent cultivars and plant species not specifically covered in the class curriculum. The activity also provided students opportunities to practice public speaking skills, an avenue to be creative, and simply have fun in class. In Plant Madness, each student randomly drew a plant from a hat and then students were randomly assigned tournament seed rankings (preliminary rankings). On specified game days, one student played against another student, each having 2 minutes of play. Student play varied, and consisted of defining different plant attributes, landscape appeal, and interesting facts, for example; or identifying the opposing student’s plant’s faults through riddles, poems, games, songs, or simply recitation. Referees (e.g., guest faculty, graduate students) reviewed student play and awarded points, and the student with the highest score advanced to the next round through the single-elimination tournament. A postactivity survey was administered [Spring 2016 and 2017 (n = 44)] to obtain student feedback. When asked if the students liked the activity, it was nearly unanimous, 98% liked Plant Madness. Similarly, most students (93%) self-reported the activity increased their awareness of new or recent plant cultivars. When asked to rate the activity compared with other class approaches for learning different plants based on a scale of 1 (excellent) to 5 (poor), the average rating was 1.8. Students’ average rating for their ability to be creative for Plant Madness was 1.8 (1 = to a large extent, 5 = not at all). Ninety-five percent of the students recommended repeating the activity.