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ERIC Number: EJ870949
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1389-224X
Open-Ended Cases in Agroecology: Farming and Food Systems in the Nordic Region and the US Midwest
Francis, Charles; King, James; Lieblein, Geir; Breland, Tor Arvid; Salomonsson, Lennart; Sriskandarajah, Nadarajah; Porter, Paul; Wiedenhoeft, Mary
Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, v15 n4 p385-400 Dec 2009
Our aim is to describe open-ended case studies for learning real-life problem solving skills, and relate this approach to conventional, closed-ended decision case studies. Teaching methods are open-ended cases in agroecology, an alternative to traditional strategies that lead students through prepared materials and structured discussions to determine an outcome already known to the instructor. Our method promotes a culture of curiosity. Multiple evaluation criteria show how this learning strategy provides students with practice in researching, envisioning and designing potential scenarios for clients in the field. In agroecology case studies, students and instructors are co-learners in a discovery process that includes gathering information from key clients, interviewing major stakeholders, and building an understanding of the current context of the local farming and food systems. Two agroecology courses in Norway, a field course in the US Midwest, and an experimental course in Sweden and Vietnam illustrate this learning strategy. Student evaluations of learning have been highly positive, and skills and methods from courses have been applied in their thesis projects and professional careers. Practical results reveal that students are well prepared for an uncertain, complex, multi-dimensional and dynamic future, have the capacity to develop alternative future scenarios, and have practiced methods to evaluate options based on production, economic, environmental and social criteria and impacts. This innovative strategy is offered as a complement or alternative to conventional decision case studies and evaluated as an approach to experiential learning, an important and effective method for adult learners. (Contains 3 figures and 1 table.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Norway; Sweden; Vietnam