December 14, 2012


From an ASPB press release:

A Flexible Guide for Learning How Plants Contribute to a Sustainable, Healthy, and Economically Viable Future
ROCKVILLE, MD -- Plants are everywhere! It's almost impossible to get through a minute without using food, fuels, or fibers (paper, cotton, wood) made from plants. And plant biologists optimize these plant-derived resources for a sustainable, healthy and economically viable future. Experts from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) and Botanical Society of America (BSA), dedicated to improving science education, have created a set of core concepts and learning objectives to help undergraduate and college-bound students learn, apply and expand the body of plant biology knowledge. In alignment with new national reforms in science and transformative measures for undergraduate biology education, ASPB and BSA developed this educational resource and urge all who teach undergraduate biology students to use this document as a guide for curricular design and instruction.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Science Foundation (NSF), and other stakeholders recently published a call to transform undergraduate biology education, titled Vision and Change. Major themes of Vision and Change include teaching core concepts and competencies, focusing on student-centered learning, promoting campus-wide commitments to change, and engaging the biology community in implementation of change. ASPB, one of the first societies involved in this effort, received an NSF award to host a workshop in 2011 to determine how to implement the Vision and Change recommendations in the field of plant biology. Based on the output of this workshop, an ASPB-BSA working group was assembled to generate a set of plant biology core concepts.

ASPB and BSA member comments have been integrated into the current version of the core concepts posted on the ASPB website. The concepts are organized into the four life science domains of the new framework for K-12 science education developed by the National Academy of Sciences Board on Science Education: (1) From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes, (2) Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics, (3) Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits, and (4) Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity. Each set of concepts begins with a description of the foundational knowledge in the domain, and individual concepts are followed by Core Concepts and Learning Objectives in Plant Biology sample learning objectives, detailing how students can demonstrate their understanding of the concept. 
Input from the wider community about these concepts and learning objectives is welcome. Please share your feedback with ASPB Education Committee member, Erin Dolan ( Also, please consider sharing how you utilize the concepts and objectives in your teaching with members of the Higher Education Interest Group on the ASPB site. 
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ASPB is a professional scientific society, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, devoted to the advancement of the plant sciences worldwide. With a membership of some 4500 plant scientists from throughout the United States and more than 50 other nations, the Society publishes two of the most widely cited plant science journals: The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology. For more information about ASPB, please visit Also follow ASPB on Facebook at and on Twitter @ASPB.

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