Understanding Plant Blindness – Students’ Inherent Interest of Plants in Higher Education


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Plant-blindness' (PB) is the inability to see or notice plants in one's own environment. There has been growing concerns amongst biologists that PB is becoming an increasing issue in young university students. However, currently we are still lacking detailed quantitative data that would allow us to determine the exact underlying causes for this trend. In order to contribute to our understanding of PB, we aimed to quantify PB in undergraduate university students by deriving a PB score from face-to-face quizzes. A total of 88 undergraduate students in Biology were surveyed. Students were more likely to correctly identify and recognize animals over plants in a series of picture tests. There was a weak positive correlation (p=0.03, r 2 =0.24) between the students' awareness of plants in their natural environment and their exposure to plant biology during pre-university schooling. Most students (65.9%) believed that the inclusion of plants within university course contents increased their interest. Within this group, 30.6% indicated that because of this newly developed interest, they have chosen more relevant plant science modules. These results suggest that there is an inherent interest of plants in students surveyed in this study. However, this interest needs to be carefully nurtured throughout their educational progression. We proposed six areas to combat PB.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98
Number of pages105
JournalJournal of Plant Sciences
Issue number4
Early online date31 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2020


  • Plants
  • People
  • University
  • Blindness


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