Cultural Myths to Evidence-based Knowledge: Engaging Community College Students in Scientific Exploration

By Kumkum Prabhakar.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many innovations in education emphasize student-centered investigative approaches and differentiated instruction. As a part of active learning modality, students use tools and techniques that enhance their research and critical thinking skills, in addition to their scientific literacy. This paper will illustrate how integrating ethnobotany with Drug Module can heighten students’ interest and knowledge about medicinally-valuable plants from different categories of the plant kingdom. Drug Module modifies curricula to include an interdisciplinary approach to learning how drugs like aspirin and Vioxx work in the human body. Students investigate popular medicinal plants and their active ingredients, learn about the drug delivery and action of commonly used medicines, and explore the process of clinical trials used for Food & Drug Administration approvals. Students also participate in Project-Based Learning and perform bioassays that test brine shrimp lethality and the antimicrobial properties of active ingredients.

Keywords: Investigative Approaches, Differentiated Instruction, Active Learning, Critical Thinking Skills, Ethnobotany, Interdisciplinary Approach, Scientific Literacy, and Project-based Learning

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.79-90. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 824.817KB).

Dr. Kumkum Prabhakar

Professor of Biology, Biology Department, Nassau Community College, Garden City, New York, USA

Kumkum Prabhakar has her Ph.D. from the Department of Botany, University of Delhi, India. She co-authored an extensively-quoted paper in the Embryology of Angiosperms, published by Springer-Verlag. Presently, Dr. Prabhakar is Professor of Biology at Nassau Community College. She has designed two new courses-Bio 124 Plants & Society and Bio 130 Molecules & Medicines at Nassau Community College. Dr. Prabhakar is a recipient of State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002 and SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Faculty Service in 2010. Her main contributions are in the area of academic assessment of student learning. She served as Chair of the SUNY General Education Natural Science subcommittee. Dr. Prabhakar has conducted many workshops pertinent to teaching botany, outcomes assessment, active learning, and modifying curriculum with technology. She modified the Plants and Society course to be offered as web enhanced course, Honors seminar, international study course, continuing education course, and as learning community with the Reading Department. She serves on the executive board of Phytomorphology (an international journal of plant morphology), The Botanica, the Metropolitan Association of College and University Biologists, and as a foreign representative at the All India Women’s Education Fund Association.