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Tennessee Plant Research Center    

Elizabeth Schussler, Ph. D.

Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Office: 402 Hesler
Phone: (865)974-6825

Research Focus:One of my research interests is student learning about plants.  Plants often suffer in comparison to animals both culturally and educationally, resulting in students who know less about and are less interested in plants as compared to animals.  I have documented differentials in college student abilities to name and recall plant images as compared to animal images, as well as elementary student struggles with plant knowledge.  My current research is using visual attention models to explore these differences between plant and animal knowledge, with a goal to design curricula that can improve student learning about plants.

My other research interest is undergraduate learning about the nature of science.  The nature of science encompasses the values and beliefs that underlie scientific ideas and practices, and is critical for student scientific literacy.  Yet nature of science is rarely taught in school, or is presented in such a stereotypical manner as to be counter-productive (e.g. scientists are completely objective, all scientists use one scientific method, science doesn’t employ creativity).  I have interviewed biology majors from their sophomore to their senior years to understand how nature of science understanding develops in these students, and implemented a new curriculum in an introductory biology class to improve student nature of science understanding.  The goal of this research is to create biology curricula that introduce students to the true nature of science early in their undergraduate careers. 


Selected Publications:

Schussler, Elisabeth E., Melanie A. Link-Pérez, Kirk M. Weber, and Vanessa H. Dollo. In Press. Exploring Plant and Animal Content in Elementary Science Textbooks. Journal of Biological Education.

Bautista, Nazan U. and Elisabeth E. Schussler.  In Press.  Implementation of an Explicit
and Reflective Pedagogy in Introductory Biology Laboratories.  Journal of College Science Teaching.

Link-Pérez, Melanie A., Vanessa H. Dollo, Kirk M. Weber, and Elisabeth E. Schussler. 2010.  What’s in a Name: Differential Labeling of Plant and Animal Photographs in Two Nationally-Syndicated Elementary Science Textbook Series.  International Journal of Science Education 32(9): 1227-1242.

Schussler, Elisabeth E.  2008.  From Flowers to Fruits: How Children’s Books Represent Plant Reproduction.  International Journal of Science Education 30(12): 1677-1696.

Schussler, Elisabeth E. and Lynn Olzak.  2008.  It’s Not Easy Being Green: Student Recall of Plant and Animal Images.  Journal of Biological Education 42(3): 112-118.



College of Agriculture Sciences & Natural Resources    Experiment Station    Extension Service    Institute of Agriculture