Teacher Preparation > Supporting Preservice Teachers > Browse Teacher Preparation Courses > University of New Mexico - Geobotany
Page prepared for SERC by Amy Ellwein of the University of New Mexico.


Amy Ellwein and Dr. Tim Lowrey
Author Profile

University of New Mexico

Course Type:
Multidisciplinary: Geomorphology, Soils, Botany, Earth System Science

Course Size:
less than 20

Course Summary
This field-based course for pre- and in-service teachers was modified from an upper-level Botany course to focus on earth and life science content as described in the revised 2003 New Mexico Science Standards. For Dr. Ellwein's reflections on the course and its design, see Geobotany: Role in the Program.

Course Context:

Geobotany is an upper-division, week-long, residential field course for K-12 in-service and pre-service teachers that has no prerequisites. The course integrates field and laboratory investigations as well as daily reflective writing. Participants receive either free tuition or a modest stipend for their participation and free lodging at the Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research site.

Course Goals:

Content Goals: At the end of the course, participants should be able to: Skills Goals: Attitudinal Goals:

Course Content:

Geobotany focuses on plant form, function, and adaptations and the effects of landforms, rock types, and soils on the distribution of plants. We use an earth system science approach in that we also touch on meteorology, climatology, and New Mexico's geologic history. In the context of this course, we cover basic rock identification, map reading and interpretation of aerial photographs, and identification of major plant families. Participants make observations and interpretations in the field and lab every day. At the end of each day, participants write about their experiences and self-confidence and perceieved competence (self-efficacy) as amateur practioners of science in a reflective writing exercise, for which instructors provide feedback each evening. On the last day of the course, participants are taken to a location with different geobotanical relationships than they've previously studied and work in groups to explain and discuss the relationships they observe.

Teaching Materials:

Geobotany Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 66kB Apr27 07)

For an example activity from this course, see Active Learning and Lasting Impacts: Reflective Writing in a Field-Based Geobotany Course for Teachers.


We use several assessment methods in this course including:

References and Notes:

Harwood, W.S. (2004) . A New Model for Inquiry: Is the Scientific Method Dead? Journal of College Science Teaching, 33(7).