The Use of Videos for a Final Project: A Case Study in Developing a Silviculture Prescription

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College students, instructors, and the population at large are increasingly connected through smart phones and tablets, shifting how we interact at a personal and professional level. Smart devices allow students to interact with data and science in novel ways; however, these devices can also be distracting and inhibit student learning. Instructors at all levels of education are beginning to develop activities that utilize smart devices to increase learning. In this case study, smart devices were utilized to create videos in an upper division silviculture class at the University of Minnesota. Students created a final video prescription for a forest stand of their choosing, incorporating knowledge gained throughout the semester. Students’ videos were assessed on five major components: (1) the location and land-use history; (2) stand composition, structure, and stage of stand development; (3) goals and objectives; (4) silvicultural systems; and (5) correct use of terms. Video editing and video quality were not included in the assessment. The final video assignment was an alternative to a final exam. The final video assignment allowed students to practice their communication skills and think creatively; skills that have been repeatedly rated as important by prospective employers in the natural resource field. The majority of students surveyed (n = 21 of 23) responded positively to this project. This assignment can be easily modified for larger class sizes and different disciplines.