Finding the Gaps: An Assessment of Concepts, Skills, and Employer Expectations for Plant Pathology Foundational Courses.

Academic Article


  • Foundational plant pathology courses, taught at the undergraduate level, serve students from a wide array of disciplines, and for most will be the only plant pathology course taken. This work examined the content, skills, and delivery modes of undergraduate plant pathology courses at a national scale, and assessed employer expectations for these courses and for students entering the workforce with degrees in plant science-related disciplines. While content knowledge coverage among plant pathology courses was generally consistent and aligned well with employers' knowledge expectations, delivery modes and skill development components were more variable and less aligned. Significant gaps were found between skills expected by employers and those emphasized by instructors, particularly in the areas of general laboratory skills (e.g., media preparation, molecular techniques, microscopy, and competence with other lab equipment) and recognition of plant problems that are not caused by pathogens. Employers also emphasized the value of (and frequent lack of) critical soft skills, such as teamwork, adaptability, communication, writing, and critical thinking. Results of this study will provide a foundation for course and curriculum development and evaluations. Recommendations are also discussed for enhanced interactions among educators and employers outside of academia.
  • Authors

  • Richter, Brantlee Spakes
  • Poleatewich, Anissa
  • Hayslett, Maya
  • Stofer, Kathryn
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • October 2018
  • Published In

  • Plant Disease  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Botany
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection
  • Plant Diseases
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 30160633
  • Start Page

  • 1883
  • End Page

  • 1898
  • Volume

  • 102
  • Issue

  • 10