New Publication: Visual Literacy Intervention for Improving Undergraduate Student Critical Thinking of Global Sustainability Issues

I’m excited to announce our new publication in Sustainability!

Abstract: The promotion of global sustainability within environmental science courses requires a paradigm switch from knowledge-based teaching to teaching that stimulates higher-order cognitive skills. Non-major undergraduate science courses, such as environmental science, promote critical thinking in students in order to improve the uptake of scientific information and develop the rational decision making used to make more informed decisions. Science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) courses rely extensively on visuals in lectures, readings and homework to improve knowledge. However, undergraduate students do not automatically acquire visual literacy and a lack of intervention from instructors could be limiting academic success. In this study, a visual literacy intervention was developed and tested in the face-to-face (FTF) and online sections of an undergraduate non-major Introduction to Environmental Science course. The intervention was designed to test and improve visual literacy at three levels: (1) elementary—identifying values; (2) intermediate—identifying trends; and (3) advanced—using the data to make projections or conclusions. Students demonstrated a significant difference in their ability to answer elementary and advanced visual literacy questions in both course sections in the pre-test and post-test. Students in the face-to-face course had significantly higher exam scores and higher median assessment scores compared to sections without a visual literacy intervention. The online section did not show significant improvements in visual literacy or academic success due to a lack of reinforcement of visual literacy following the initial intervention. The visual literacy intervention shows promising results in improving student academic success and should be considered for implementation in other general education STEM courses.

You can read the full article online: or download the article PDF from below:

Lab updates: New Lined Seahorse juveniles

Now that we are on winter break, we will be working on setting up our new microscopes and Orion Versa Star benches meter. Hopefully the students will take this time to work on data collection in preparation for Spring research conferences!

One of our new lab additions was a birth of Lined Seahorses, Hippocampus erectus, from the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach. They have both Lined and Dwarf seahorses on display. Their new male gave birth on Monday and our students will be learning how to rear these juveniles.

Lined seahorse juvenile are pelagic for around 7-10 days after birth and require slightly different care than the dwarfs. Dwarf juveniles immediately attach to vegetation after their born, are less work to raise, and have higher survival. Both species eat the same food from birth but Lined seahorses are trained to eat frozen mysid shrimp after a few months. Adult Dwarfs will continue eating live brine shrimp (Artemia).

Here’s a video from the lab today:

Congratulations Jennifer!

Jennifer Spain has successfully defended her MS Thesis “COMPARING RECRUITMENT PATTERNS BETWEEN OYSTER BAGS AND OYSTER CORE MODULES”. Jennifer is the Aquatic Research Labs first graduate student and we are proud of her accomplishments and hard work. Final revisions and publication submission are up next 🎉

Jennifer on her last day of data collection in the lab

Hike for General Ecology

Today we went out to explore pine flatwoods and some freshwater wetlands for General Ecology Lab. The students were able to see an aquifer recharge area, some cool spiders and native plants while learning about controlled burns, succession and enjoying Florida native habitats.

Little look at our seahorses

We’ve been busy here at the lab! Here’s a quick look at some of our dwarf seahorses which have taken over the lab.

Dwarf seahorses in the Aquatic Research Laboratory

Public Seminar on Seahorse Research at our HBCU, Bethune-Cookman Univeristy

The Marine Discovery Center’s October online lecture will focus on “Exploring Seahorse Research at Bethune-Cookman University.”The online presentation is set for Thursday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. Eastern.Guest speaker for this webinar will be Dr. Sarah Krejci, assistant professor of biology and integrated environmental science at Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach.Seahorses are a unique group of fish which have captivated generations of people around the world. However, their wild populations are facing threats from habitat loss, collection for the aquarium and curio trades and climate change.Krejci and her students conduct research on laboratory and field populations of seahorses and their relatives, the pipefish, to illustrate the impacts that humans have on coastal ecosystems.Krejci will share highlights of their studies, including photos and videos of their recent conjoined seahorse twins that were born in the university’s lab.This lecture will introduce webinar attendees to the details of seahorse biology and ecology and students’ research projects from Bethune-Cookman University, one of 101 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in America.Krejci will also discuss the importance of training diverse researchers, as well as the barriers that racism presents for black students in science by sharing their stories and future aspirations.Interested guests for the October lecture may log in for the Zoom presentation at:…/reg…/WN_uXB4u12hT_CRUrVTSAon7QThe program is free, but participants must set up a personal Zoom account to access the webinar. MDC will continue to offer programs online during COVID-19 precautions for the remainder of 2020.
For more information about the lecture, contact the Marine Discovery Center at 386-428-4828.

Oyster microbiome student training

I put together this quick video of work I’m collaborating on with Dr. Raphael Isokpehi and Dr. Yungkul Kim for NSF’s Excellence in Research grant. The Aquatic Research Lab is developing a study examining the microbiome in oyster larvae in different nitrate concentrations. Dr. Kim is working on a study in field collected adult oysters. This video is showing some of the collection and laboratory processes we’re training the students to do.

Student training on oyster research