Moringa oleifera as a model system for undergraduate problem-based learning
The many medicinal, nutritional, industrial, and agricultural uses of Moringa oleifera are well-documented. These unique traits found in moringa also make the species a valuable model system by which undergraduate students from non-agricultural majors may engage in plant-based research. This paper highlights a collaborative, problem-based learning approach that has been used to a great effect at Penn State University. Problem-based learning promotes a culture of curiosity, where discovery is valued and failure is embraced and used as a learning opportunity. Since 2010, undergraduate moringa-related research projects and activities have included: 1) moringa leaf drying under humid conditions; 2) design of a moringa harvester for application in Senegal; and 3) moringa cationic protein, functionalized sand for water treatment with recognition at the EPA P3 Sustainability Award. Evaluations and anecdotal evidence suggest that collaborative undergraduate research teams engaged around real-world moringa problems experience enhanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Additionally, the research conducted by the student teams has contributed significantly to the body of knowledge related to moringa culture and use.
Bates, R.M. and Bicksler, A.J. (2017). Moringa oleifera as a model system for undergraduate problem-based learning. Acta Hortic. 1158, 413-416
experiential learning, capstone courses, student research projects