Horticultural Research A

Course CodeBHT118
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
Learning to Research is a Critical Skill for the Future
 
The problem with education today is that everything is changing so fast, that the things you learn today can be out of date tomorrow; and what you need to know the next day, might be difficult to find.
 
If you know how to properly research information though; you will have a heightened ability to find, evaluate and use information that may have otherwise eluded you.
 
It isn't only research scientists that need research skills -everyone working in horticulture today needs to understand research, if you are to stay at the cutting edge of the profession. 
 

Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Determining Research Needs
    • Overview
    • Identifying research needs
    • The research goal
    • The research question
    • Other questions to clarify the research goal
    • Sources of information
    • What information is required
    • Depth and bredth of data
    • Setting realistic research parameters
    • Constraining factors
  2. Searching for Information
    • Kinds of exploratory research
    • Primary data research
    • Secondary data research
    • Literature reviews
  3. Research Methods
    • Key research terms
    • Experimentation
    • A controlled environment
    • Field trials
    • Steps in collection and analysis of data
    • Conducting a crop trial
    • Setting up a Comparison trial
    • Running a trial: records and recording
    • Evaluating the trial
    • Interviewing skills: procedure, asking questions, types of questions
    • Ways of handling difficult questions
  4. Using Statistics
    • Overview: Descriptive statistics, Inferential statistics
    • Official statistics
    • Reasons for using statistics
    • Advantages of statistics
    • Statistics: as guides and motivators
    • Disadvantages of statistics
    • Issues to consider
    • Descriptive statistics
    • Observed and expected rates
    • Confidence intervals
    • Standardizing
    • Reliability of statistics
    • Presenting statisticsa: pie charts, bar charts, histograms
    • Descriptive statistics: mean, median, mode, variation, variance, standard deviation, correlation, probability, etc
  5. Conducting Statistical Research
    • Collecting quantitative data
    • Conducting a survey
    • Form of data
    • Planning a formal survey
    • Designing a questionnaire
    • Common problems
  6. Research Reports
    • Report writing tips
    • Structure of a report
    • The report online
    • Research papers
    • Referencing
  7. Reporting on a Research Project
    • This lesson brings together what you have learned in previous lessons, in terms of critical assessment of other authors research papers or reports, and demonstrating your report writing skills.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Conduct preliminary investigations to determine areas where there is a valid need for research in social, technological and environmental issues that impact on horticulture today
  • Conduct an information search into a defined issue related to social, technological and environmental issues that impact on Horticulture today.
  • Explain research methods, including experimental techniques, commonly used.
  • Demonstrate and explain the basic statistical methods used for research.
  • Conduct a minor statistical research project into a well defined area, relevant to your area of study.
  • Prepare a research report in a format which conforms to normal industry procedures.
  • Demonstrate critical analytical thinking, reviewing skills and report writing skills

What can good research skills do for you?

Good research skills will enable you identify emerging trends and changes that affect horticulture, and to help formulate better strategies, practices and uses for horticulture. Your ability to conduct and present research can lead to innovations that address crucial local and global issues, or to the provision of cutting-edge horticultural services.This course will develop your ability to research and present a critical, written and numerical assessment of information related to social, technological, environmental and economic issues that impact on Horticulture today. Good research skills will enable you be an innovator in horticulture, and to identify trends, issues, and needs that can create new opportunities and directions in horticulture.

For many students, their first experience with research occurred in school where they were required to prepare a research report or a presentation on a particular subject. This is the fundamental level of research, and its aim is to gather information on a topic, which is later to be presented to an intended audience (a class, teacher etc). Examples are research on a particular country, animal, or political system.

Another level of research aims at answering a research question (often called the thesis question). The information that is gathered and presented is chosen in order to answer that question. Examples of research questions are:

What main social and political factors contribute to poverty in country X?

Why is the Madagascan lemur an endangered species?

How was language used to justify and maintain the Cold War last century?

Well formulated and pertinent questions can lead to meaningful research projects that can greatly increase our understanding of the world and ourselves.

The problem with this kind of research, though, is that it can be very difficult to know what questions to ask.
 
 

Extra Books or Reference Materials

  • The course provides you with everything that you need to complete it successfully.
  • Assignments may ask you to look for extra information (eg. by contacting nurseries, visiting gardens or searching the internet), but our school's resources and tutors are always available as a back up. If you hit a "roadblock", we can quickly send you additional information or provide expert advice over the phone or email; to keep you moving in your studies.
  • Some students choose to buy additional references, to take their learning beyond what is essential for the course. If a student wants to buy books, we operate an online bookshop offering ebooks written by staff at the school. Student discounts are available if you are studying with us. The range of e books available is being expanded rapidly, with at least one new ebook being written and published by our staff every month.
  • See www.acsebook.com  for ebooks (available in pounds stirling). We also sell books through our Australian bookshop (selling in Australian dollars) at www.acsbookshop.com

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