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Reading New Environments: Students’: ability to generalise their understanding between different ecosystems
University of Kristianstad.
Department of Mathematics and Science, Kristianstad University, Kristianstad, Sweden.
2007 (English)In: International Journal of Science Education, ISSN 0950-0693, Vol. 29, no 1, 67-100 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper is based on a study of how students' read nature in different ecosystems. Its focus is on ecology and the context is outdoors. This literacy has to do with an ability to recognise organisms and relate them to material cycling and energy flow in the specific habitat that is to be read. A teaching sequence was designed in order to develop a class of secondary students' ability to read nature in a forest ecosystem. After instruction they were taken to another ecosystem, a pond where they were asked to read the new environment. The main goal was to follow to what extent they can transfer their understanding from one ecosystem to another. The study is based on recorded interviews, field work, and classroom activities, and it shows the importance of learning general patterns in nature and relating them to functional groups of organisms in an ecosystem.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 29, no 1, 67-100 p.
Keyword [en]
Ecology, Reading nature, Secondary students
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14527DOI: 10.1080/09500690600708543OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-14527DiVA: diva2:23644
Available from: 2007-05-21 Created: 2007-05-21 Last updated: 2010-06-01
In thesis
1. Reading Nature: Developing ecological literacy through teaching
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reading Nature: Developing ecological literacy through teaching
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this study the concept reading nature and its contribution to science education is discussed. Some scientific concepts relevant for reading nature are defined. Reading nature has to do with the ability to recognise organisms and relate them to material cycling and energy flow in the specific habitat which is to be read. It has to do with authenticity where the natural world that we face outside is the book to be read and the tools we have are our experiences from previous learning situations both in and out-ofdoors. The data in the study is based on the following student groups; student teachers, primary students in year 3-4 and secondary students in year 7-8. A group of experienced teachers have contributed with data regarding their views on reading nature as a goal in science education.

The aims of the study are to describe how the ability to read nature can develop among the different student groups and to extract critical aspects for this developing ability. The extent to which the ability to read nature can be transferred between ecosystems and the relevance of reading nature as a goal in science education is also studied.

Data was collected mainly by interviews before and after instruction. The students were interviewed outdoors and the main issues discussed in the interviews regarded the organisms and the non biological factors influencing the ecosystem, the ongoing cycles and processes in the ecosystem and finally the human influence on the ecosystem. Concept maps and video recorded field studies has supplemented the interviews in the analysis of student ability to read nature.

Prior to instruction all students found it difficult to read nature. Linking ecological theory to the authentic environment seems difficult to do. The school students followed teaching sequences aiming at developing their ability to read nature. Critical aspects for developing the ability to read nature had to do with developing an ecological language including ecological terminology as well as the naming of common organisms. An experience based ecological knowledge of a few common species was for many students a helpful link between taxonomy and systems ecology. The recognition of the morphological and behavioural characters of different functional groups together with the principles of the food pyramid model and the cycling of matter were three critical aspects guiding the reading of nature in a new ecosystem. Abstract processes such as photosynthesis and natural succession were difficult to grasp for most students and the field based instruction did not seem to support this learning. There was a strong support for reading nature as a goal in science education where the outdoor aspect of ecology was stressed and the implications for this has to do with supporting the future generation of teachers to study nature in the real context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för samhälls- och välfärdsstudier, 2007
Series
Studies in Science and Technology Education, ISSN 1652-5051 ; 6
Keyword
Readiing nature, Ecology, Outdoor studies, Teaching
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-8921 (URN)978-91-85715-25-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-04-27, Aulan, Högskolan i Kristianstad, Kristianstad, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
The articles in the Ph.D. thesis are published with kind permission from International Journal of Science Education, Journal of Biological Education and NorDiNa: Nordic Studies in Science Education.Available from: 2007-05-21 Created: 2007-05-21 Last updated: 2009-03-25

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Citation style
  • apa
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