How to Use the Botany Study Guide
The purpose of the Study Guide to the Science of Botany is to weave - out of the information on Life Science and especially Botany contained in Wikipedia - a course of study for the student or layman. It is anticipated that this course will be either supplemental to instruction being received at a school or college, or will be self-directed. In either case, the Guide is not a novel and should not be approached as one. A smooth flow of dialogue is simply not possible and should not be anticipated. The Guide may be closer to the sometimes disjointed notes generated by a student from a lecture or careful reading of a detailed textbook.
Within each subsection of a Chapter, introductory text is followed by one or more "reading assignments" of the form:
- Read Botany (Links need not be pursued at this time)
Following (that is clicking on) the link (to Wikipedia "Botany" in this case) will open an article intended to provide the details of the Chapter subsection. Recommended articles should be read from top to bottom, and then re-read following some or all of the links embedded in the article to other articles for expanded elucidation or to clarify terms; that is, in most cases, completion of an "assignment" (recommended article) includes at least some or all articles linked to the first. Obviously, it cannot be the case that all links are followed to articles, whose links are then followed to articles, and so on until no new material is encountered. It is likely there would be no quick end to such a pursuit. The amount of time spent wandering beyond the original article is partly a personal matter of how much the reader is getting out of the foray than anything else. Realize it is certainly possible to wander well off the subject at hand. As in the example above, notes are provided with assignments giving some direction for pursuing links. An instruction NOT to follow links simply means the additional material will be encountered later in the course of instruction, and going beyond the assigned article may provide too much detail for a beginning student. The following example:
specifies that two other links ARE part of the assignment. Other links encountered may be followed to expand your knowledge or, as always, to aid in understanding of technical terms encountered. Hyperlinks included with the text in the Guide are there simply for convenience, usually to topics somewhat peripheral to the main one. In all cases, finding your way back to the Guide may become tricky, but we have to leave this up to you to establish, beyond pointing out that your browser's Back button is intended for this purpose.
At the end of each subsection are posted one to several questions. In general, you will get more out of these questions if you write out your answer on a piece of paper. You may wish to accomplish this on the re-read, allowing each question to guide your quest for an answer. A discussion page for each chapter provides answers to the questions posed. However, the questions are intended to be thought-provoking, and may not have a single straight-forward answer. Answers on the discussion pages are also necessarily much longer than would be expected of any one student; it is expected that each student answer will fit somewhere within the broad discussion presented.
A natural sciences course laboratory unit is supposed to provide hands-on experience in exploring topics raised in the text and lecture units. The best that a website can give towards this goal is a manual that is liberally provided with pictures and diagrams. The student must provide the "hands on" from the neighboring natural world. Fortunately, in botany, this is much easier to accomplish than in almost any other field of science. Both the outdoors, the local market, and (if available) a botanical garden can be sources of materials for study. Indeed, we may teach the structure of a pome using an apple in the hope that the student will end up with a pear.
In using any of the Laboratory Exercises, it is always best to read through the entire module before actually doing anything. Resist the temptation to view the material as an instruction manual to be followed in a specific order. For one thing it is difficult to write a module that covers, at each step, all that the student should know before proceeding on to the next step. The value of any exercise will be significantly enhanced if you have a pretty good idea where it is going in advance.
The Study Guide is divided into Sections and Chapters which define the subject material of each module. At the bottom of each text page (main text of a module), is a short version of the Table of Contents, allowing the reader to jump between chapters within a Section. Here is an example of the "Wiki Contents Table" for Section I:
|Botany Study Guide ~ Wiki Contents Table
Note that at the beginning of each module, links are provided to both the previous chapter and the succeeding chapter, as well as to the main Table of Contents. Links to units associated with a module, as for example to a Laboratory Exercise, appear near the end of the module
As a final note, read the next Section and consider how you might make a contribution to the Guide.