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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Poulton, Jennifer [1].

Evaluating the accuracy of image search engines as potential learning tools for plant recognition.

Image search engines provide easy access to an almost endless array of digital images on the internet. These search engines have the potential to act as powerful tools for learning sight recognition of plants. However, their usefulness as learning aids depends on their accuracy. The images retrieved must be high quality, relevant images, if they are to be useful in species recognition. In 2011, I challenged my students to learn to recognize 50 common wildflowers of the tallgrass prairie in hopes of increasing their awareness and appreciation of the plants living in their local environment (thereby reducing plant blindness). This species list was used to evaluate three popular image search engines: Google Images, Bing Images, and Picsearch. Using different search strategies and settings, I performed multiple searches for each plant species. The first 40 image results in each search were classified as useful, marginally useful, or not useful for species recognition. This study indicates that image search engines may be effective tools for learning sight recognition of plants if recommended search strategies are followed. Whereas most field guides only provide one or a few images of each plant species, image search engines produce many images, illustrating natural variation within species and different life stages. This approach may better prepare students for plant identification in the field.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Graceland University, Division of Science and Math, 1 University Place, Lamoni, IA, 50140, USA

learning tool
plant recognition
plant identification
image search engine
digital images
plant blindness
tallgrass prairie.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 37
Location: Waterman Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Time: 4:20 PM
Number: 37012
Abstract ID:498

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