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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Botanical Society of America

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.7 stars
Content Quality: 4.8 stars
Effectiveness: 4.6 stars
Ease of Use: 4.8 stars
Reviewed: Jan 05, 2005 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: The Botanical Society of America (BSA) seeks to promote botany and its various
sub-disciplines. In addition to presenting information about the Botanical Society of America, this site provides educational resources such as definitions, images, and experiments for the classroom. The site is rich with links to specific pages covering many aspects of education and support for
botany. Some of the featured components include a definition of botany, public policy issues, award and grant opportunities, career opportunities, conferences and meetings, energy and conservation pages, officer and membership directories, online image galleries, publications, communications, section (subdiscipline) information, teaching and educational support, and manuscript submission. The online image galleries, in particular, include high-quality photographs of many botanical images including carnivorous plants, cellular communication, economic botany, floral ontogeny, lichens, mitosis, organography, paleobotany, phloem development, plant anatomy, plant defense mechanisms, plant geography, plant morphology, pollen, and xylem development. This site is an essential resource for networking with other botanists and provides materials that are accurate, up-to-date, and high quality for classroom and/or laboratory activities.
Learning Goals: The site is a general professional organization site. As such, the learning objective is very broad, seeking simply to educate society and students about the field of botany.
Target Student Population: As a general professional organization site, the target is broad and includes
the general adult population. This site also provides educational materials aimed at all levels of K-16.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: The site is geared towards the layman but does provide research materials, career opportunities, and a variety of resources for more advanced learners.
Type of Material: Most of the material is text-based on sub-pages to the site. Many areas of the site include images as well as experiments, resources, links to external sites, and other sources of information and resources.
Recommended Uses: The goal of the site is education. As an educational source for the lay adult, the site provides a rich set of resources and information about botany. As an educational source for students, the site contains demonstrations and experiments,resources and a good set of external links to additional useful information and resources.
Technical Requirements: Most material is in HTML, PHP, ASP, or PDF, which are easily viewable in all Web browsers or with a plug-in. Some of the external sites (as links) have additional technical requirements such as Java machine, Flash, and others.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.8 stars
Strengths:

  • The vast collection of publications and communications are among the best in the field
  • Materials presented on the botany profession are accurate, complete, and up-to-date
  • Photograph and photomicrograph collections are appropriate, high-quality, and reliable for the many aspects of plant biology
  • Effective image legends are included
  • This is a very comprehensive site, professionally presented, and well-suited for botanists interested in the discipline and the current literature
  • Some very good features include the Ask a Botanist Site, Online Image Library, Carnivorous Plant Pages, and Science Advocacy Pages
Concerns:

  • The teaching section could be expanded to include more lessons and learning tools
  • The Education Committee Page has limited content

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.6 stars
Strengths:

  • This is a great site for exposing students to the scientific literature and serves as a model for what should be expected in the profession
  • The photograph collection is pretty good, although some collections could be expanded
  • Students will be impressed with the many offerings of this site, particularly because so many sub-disciplines of botany are presented
  • The opening page has a section that helps orient teachers to useful links
  • Links to demonstrations and experiments such as One Bad Apple, Sailing Seeds, and Gasping for Air are very good
  • The "Young Botanist" site is an excellent resource
  • The splash page has a narrative explaining the various links for teachers right near the top
  • While it may not be necessary to have a teaching theme for this site, it is designed in such a way that students can find materials related to their interest(s)
Concerns:

  • There are a few learning modules found within the teaching and educational site, but the overall site would benefit from a tutorial about the many resources offered
  • It would help to provide a link for animations, simulations, videos and other modules that can be used to teach botany in the classroom
  • Lots of teaching support materials found throughout the site; however, the large amount of information available could be intimidating or overwhelming, though the well organized grouping of the material, effective navigation, and redundant links help minimize this

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.8 stars
Strengths:

  • The site is well organized, although it is not clear why the links are listed in the order they are presented
  • No defective links or major bugs were found
  • Easy to navigate and fast
  • Redundant links makes for effective navigation
  • The site and sub-sites are appropriately searchable
Concerns:

  • At the time of this review, there were some pages that took a long time to load

Other Issues and Comments: This site is an essential one for botanists because it provides an accurate and reputable resource for those engaged in profession. The materials presented are better than expected because the site provides learning materials as well as informational material about the organization. The site is well developed and targets its audience appropriately. The variety of resources from Ask a Botanist to Links for Young Botanists, to Images, to Research, to Career Opportunities and more provides a great all-in-one resource for those interested in botany and plant sciences.