The latest issue of Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education has an excellent paper on forestry education and ways of improving it authored by Javier Arevalo, Barbara Jarschel, Sari Pitkänen, Liisa Tahvanainen, and Jorma Enkenberg.
The paper is based on a study of a 5-year Brazilian undergraduate programme in forestry. The study found that what students perceive as important, change as they progress through program. The authors suggest that this could act as pointers to improve forestry curriculum and create more attractive forestry programs to reverse the global decline in forestry student enrollment.
The most frequent concern among first-year students was conservation, but later-year students were speaking about production, sustainable management forest legislation and policy.
The authors suggest that since beginner students perceive conservation as an important concern, conservation-related issues should be incorporated into first-year studies to leverage maximum benefit from the education. The subjects taught later on could tailored as per the preference of the students, to get maximum benefit.
The importance of excelling academically decreased across study years, while the importance of having a good social life increased across study years. According to the authors this may signal dissatisfaction or de-motivation linked to a perception that academic achievement is not appropriately compensated
While the majority of students at the beginning of their studies preferred to continue for master programs at the same university, later on they tend to prefer the same university, a different university, or studying abroad. This also could act as pointers to sort out deficiencies in the system.
The findings from this study offer new insights into the perceptions of forestry education and shows ways of improving the content of the syllabus for forestry education.