INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND SCIENCE EDUCATION

Volume 18, Issue 4, 2022

In Progress

Review Article
Teaching Evolution as the Unifying Theory of Biology via a University Course: Re-Count of a Praxis
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2275, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/11976
ABSTRACT: The aim of the presentation is to discuss the findings of a series of research projects that we have been carried out with various groups of students in the University of Athens and concern the teaching of biology by means of evolution through natural selection (THES). In the article it is discussed the conclusions after teaching a biology course based on evolution as the unifying theory, while at the same time more general issues are raised: Is it, for example, a realistic goal to teach biology by means of this kind of teaching? Secondly, what is the usefulness of such a perspective. Which was studied by quantitative and qualitative studies on the conceptual ecology (CE) of the evolution of Greek students. The latter showed the value of this kind of approach in the acceptance and understanding of the THES, as part of students’ CI. Thirdly, ccomparative studies with beginners and advanced students in terms of evolution education showed, that, merely teaching evolution within a course, even if the latter is based on the THES, it is not enough to make someone in-depth connoisseur. It seems that to be acquainted with it to more depth the learners need to go through two stages: in the first, they may move from the stage of owing Aristotelian views of the issue, i.e., from typology, to the early “Darwinian” ones. And they need to go through a second one, where via, in-depth educational training, they might move to the next, namely, the population view of thinking.
Research Article
The Perceptions of Fifth-Graders Following Ecology Service Learning–The Case of the “Lesser Kestrel Day”
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2276, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/11984
ABSTRACT: An instrumental case study examined the experiences and emotions of fifth-graders, aged 10-11, following their service-learning, which was designed to help the Lesser Kestrel, an endangered species in Israel. The case study methodology used three research tools that included analyses of drawings and explanations, personal reflections, and focus groups. The research revealed four processes that students went through: emotional, social, cognitive and behavioral. These processes supported the creation of an educational setting that allowed students to develop as independent learners with responsibilities towards their peers and a high level of empathy while experiencing environmental citizenship. In addition, the successful experience generated a positive feeling together with pro-environmental behavior leading towards biodiversity conservation.
Research Article
Importance of a Comparison Group and a Long-Term Follow-Up Test in Evaluating Environmental Education Experiences
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2277, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/11987
ABSTRACT: This study evaluated the impacts on environmental literacy after a non-formal science-based program and compared the impacts to a non-formal non-science-based program. Both programs included children in grades six to eleven (ages 11 to 17) from the Syracuse, New York, USA area. Environmental literacy was assessed by administering environmental attitude and environmental knowledge pre-, post-, and follow-up tests to both programs’ participants. Initially, environmental attitude scores were higher for the participants in the science-based program. However, this was not a lasting impact. According to the follow-up test, attitude scores were not elevated for the science-based program. Without the follow-up tests given weeks after the program end, we could have inferred environmental attitudes were increased by the science-based program. Environmental knowledge was higher at the end of the science-based program but also increased in the comparison group. The gains in environmental knowledge were sustained for several weeks, but differences between the two programs did not persist. Without the comparison group we could have inferred that environmental knowledge increased solely due to the science-based program. These results show incorporating both a comparison group and a follow-up assessment are necessary to properly evaluate the effectiveness of increasing environmental literacy from science-based programs.
Research Article
Virtual Coverboarding: Using Local Biodiverity to Engage Science Majors
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2279, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12016
ABSTRACT: There is a current need to develop engaging, informative online activities for science majors and potential future citizen scientists, particularly given the increase in the online teaching environment following COVID-19. Given this potential for online teaching to continue to increase, it becomes ever more essential to provide undergraduate students with methods that allow students to remotely access common methods used for sampling species while still engaging students in learning about local species diversity. This study assessed the potential for an interactive, online course-specific website to connect and inform first-year undergraduate biology majors (pre-health majors to environmental science) on local leaf litter species diversity. The website included species encountered as part of an ongoing on-campus biodiversity monitoring project using coverboards. Students navigated to the website, answered questions on the types of organisms, and completed a short survey. The survey questions reviewed whether the website was engaging and informed students on campus biodiversity of both reptiles and arthropods. Students overwhelmingly responded positively that the website was helpful to advise them on local species and their natural histories and engaged and piqued their interest. Therefore, we recommend incorporating course websites as teaching tools to catalog local species to teach undergraduate biology majors.
Research Article
A Conceptual Model of Teaching Efficacy and Beliefs, Teaching Outcome Expectancy, Student Technology Use, Student Engagement, and 21st-Century Learning Attitudes: A STEM Education Study
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2282, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12025
ABSTRACT: The need to train and equip students in science and mathematics integrated with technology, according to contemporary professions, has gained a lot of attention. Careers in this field demand that students do not just explore single subjects working independently, but rather look at how they can be integrated for application in real-world problems, provide solutions and help us take such an approach in STEM education. The use of technology enhances students’ learning and acts as an effective strategy for engaging a student in a science and mathematics classroom session. For implementing a meaningful STEM class, the teachers’ efficacy and beliefs, their perceptions of effective technological use by students to improve learning, their teaching outcome and expectancy, student engagement and 21st-century learning attitudes inculcated in students need to be looked into. The present study is a correlational one investigating the effect of teaching efficacy and beliefs, teaching outcome expectancy and 21st-century learning on student engagement. The results of the study show that students’ use of technology has a mediating effect on the relationship between teaching efficacy and beliefs and student engagement, whereas 21st-century learning attitudes do not have any mediating effect. Both student technology uses and 21st-century learning attitudes have a mediating effect on the relationship between teaching outcome expectancy and student engagement.
Research Article
Hands-On, Virtual, Environmental Science Modules: Using Stable Carbon Isotopes as Forensic Tools for Students to Understand Environmental Chemistry From Their Homes
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2283, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12036
ABSTRACT: Engagement with the natural world is imperative to student learning in the geo- and environmental sciences. Immersion in the environment is particularly useful for complicated subjects like nutrient cycling and biogeochemistry. However, access to the outdoors is not ubiquitous, and often students living in urban and/or remote locations are unable to access geo-, bio- and environmental activities, and demonstrations, and this inaccessibility was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We created a remote learning activity to teach the carbon cycle to high school students enrolled in the University of Michigan’s Earth Camp (summer 2020). These high school students were admitted to this summer program to facilitate their access to and inquiry of the natural world. Likewise, this program is designed to enable and encourage students from underrepresented minority groups to engage in STEM, and in particular, earth sciences. Students conducted at-home bio-centric experiments and collected hair from their pets and their pets’ foods (and for students without pets, favorite snack foods) and sent it to the University of Michigan for isotope analyses. Students recorded ingredients in their specimens and hypothesized what isotope values their specimens should have, based on C3/C4 plant distribution. The students’ results allowed them to examine how the Earth’s carbon cycle is reflected by common plants and animals living in their homes and to collect physical observations and analyze their own data. This activity received positive evaluations from students, and students felt their knowledge of isotopes and the chemistry behind their food increased from this exercise. Although Earth Camp recruitment was unrelated to student’s desired major, almost ~20% of the participants in this activity listed earth sciences as a desired major upon application to college. We have attached this activity in the supplement for future use by other earth science educators in an adapted version that does not require the ability to measure stable isotopes.
Research Article
The Potential and Limitations of the Wadden Sea in University, School, and Out-Of-School Contexts From the Perspective of Biology Education
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2286, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12072
ABSTRACT: This study explores the potential and the limitations of the UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea in terms of its relevance for teacher training in higher education and for teaching in schools and as an out-of-school place of learning. Interviews with experts from these three areas were conducted. The analysis was performed through qualitative content analysis. Within this framework, various factors were identified that should be considered in further biology didactics studies. The findings indicate that out-of-school learning receives too little emphasis in teacher education and that the Wadden Sea offers opportunities to address this deficit. In addition, clear limits were set for school lessons on this ecosystem in contrast to practical explorations of the Wadden Sea. Nevertheless, incorporating Wadden Sea content in the classroom makes sense since diverse topics can be vividly explored. Out-of-school learning at the Wadden Sea was found to have an immense potential in education for sustainable development and in environmental education. One obstacle is the students’ reported disgust towards the Wadden Sea. Based on the results, conclusions are drawn for all three areas considered in this study, providing concrete implications for related studies with a focus on biological education on the Wadden Sea.
Research Article
A Gender-based Investigation of Indian Senior Secondary Students’ Misconceptions about Plant Reproduction through Concept Inventory
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2287, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12089
ABSTRACT: The central objective of this study was to unveil the misconceptions and their sources through the responses of Indian senior secondary (n=102; 54 boys and 48 girls) students about plant reproduction. A concept inventory with correct and incorrect statements was designed to elicit the misconceptions among class XII students. A semi-structured interview of selected students followed this exercise to report the sources of misconceptions from students’ perspectives. Descriptive statistics like mean and percentages determined the extent of misconceptions through frequencies of incorrect responses–overall, 40.392% of students bore misconceptions in this sub-concept with statements like “no difference between vegetative propagation and vegetative reproduction” getting a higher frequency of incorrect responses. Gender-based differences were investigated through inferential statistics like Chi-square and Kruskal-Wallis tests, more misconceptions were observed in boys than girls in plant reproduction. Qualitative analysis of the interview responses revealed the ambiguities in everyday classroom transactions and textbook explanations as to the major sources behind misconceptions. The study concluded with suggestive measures–and possible pedagogical tools–to help teachers identify and eradicate student misconceptions.
Research Article
Examining Students’ Spatial Ability and Its Impact on the Learning of Stereochemistry
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2288, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12099
ABSTRACT: The subject of stereochemistry in considered a difficult concept in organic chemistry because of its dependence on spatial ability. The challenges that students face in learning about stereochemistry can lead to poor performance and alternative conceptions, which in turn might hinder their progresses in various science and engineering academic careers. Development of successful conceptual understanding to solve stereochemistry related problems requires that students have a thorough understanding of the various types of spatial abilities in stereochemistry such as mental rotation and visualization of three-dimensional chemical molecules. This research project of the City College of New York (a minority serving, public, urban, and commuter institution) investigates some of the challenges that students face and approaches that students rely on to solve stereochemistry related problems and the role of spatial ability in the learning process. Likert-type surveys, spatial ability tests, and various open-ended questions were used to assess the understandings of 86 participants. The data indicated that one of barriers to learning about stereochemistry is the students’ inabilities to mentally rotate and visualize three-dimensional molecular structures by looking at their chemical formulae, assigning priority functional groups, determining configurations, and remembering the various rules that are necessary for solving stereochemistry related questions. Spatial ability was found to be one of the factors for success in stereochemistry, and majority of the students believe that with practice and the use of three-dimensional molecular modeling kits, they can improve their spatial abilities in stereochemistry.
Research Article
Investigating Pre-Service Teachers’ Understanding of Nature of Science: Contributions of An Assessment Tool Based on the Reconceptualized Family Resemblance Approach
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2290, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12111
ABSTRACT: Several literature sources discuss the importance of nature of science (NOS) understanding and how having an understanding is central to being a scientifically literate citizen. As a result, developing NOS understanding is one of the most commonly stated objectives for science education. Acquiring views on NOS has been a prominent feature of research in this area since the 1960s. The following article provides a proof of concept for the transformation of a theoretical framework into a practical assessment tool (worksheet). The reconceptualized family resemblance approach to NOS is a theoretical framing of NOS which describes components of science in terms of categories subsumed under epistemic, cognitive and social systems. The aim is to explore its potential for use in science education and demonstrate its functionality so as to collect data on pre-service teachers’ understanding of NOS and substantiate what can be achieved through its application. The designed assessment tool has many purposes and in this case it was used in a pre-, post-, and delayed-post methodology to investigate pre-service teachers’ understanding of NOS following participation in NOS themed workshops. Implications for science teacher education will be discussed.
Research Article
Investigating Pre-Service Science Teachers’ Self-Efficacy Beliefs for Teaching Science Through Engineering Design Processes
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2291, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12121
ABSTRACT: The school system in Oman faces a problem in educating students in integrated science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities. This statement, in part, stems from science teachers’ preparation programs. This study was aimed to close a research gap in Oman by investigating science pre-service (trainee/student) teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs for teaching science by using engineering design processes. A self-efficacy beliefs for teaching as engineering design questionnaire was developed and utilized for measuring science trainee teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs for teaching science by engineering design methods. A descriptive approach with quantitative data collection was used as a design of the study. A sample of 73 students at Sultan Qaboos University participated voluntarily. The results showed that student teachers believed themselves to be highly successful in teaching science. BSc program trainee teachers had higher perceptions of themselves as highly successful in teaching science with regard to personal self-efficacy beliefs and in two scales in outcome expectations for science teaching in the new manner than did trainee teachers with a teacher qualification diploma. Regarding gender and major, there was no statistically significant difference in trainee teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs. Contributions to research and future perspectives of the study findings on improving science teaching and learning are discussed.
Research Article
Green Schools: An Examination of Practices and Possibilities in Alabama
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2292, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12144
ABSTRACT: Green schools are schools that reduce environmental effects, improve the health and performance of students, and increase sustainability literacy. Green schools reinforce optimal learning aligned with resource efficiency and minimal pollution. This study implemented a descriptive survey research design to assess the extent to which green school practices are being applied in a three-county region of central Alabama. Survey results revealed inconsistent availability of green school practices at participating schools. Survey implications point to a need for more focused emphasis on green school practices and collaboration between schools, school faculties, and local education agencies.
Research Article
Adding Relevancy to STEM Interest Through Adventure Education: A Mixed Methods Study
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2022, 18(4), e2294, https://doi.org/10.21601/ijese/12214
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this mixed methods concurrent triangulation study was to assess the vocational relevancy of adventure STEM for sixth grade students attending the Science Adventure School (SAS), a residential, informal education program focused on delivering adventure STEM education to low-income, rural students. Specifically, this study sought to research any changes in STEM attitudes, including science interest (Eccles, 2007; Gilmartin et al., 2007) and science career interest (Sadler et al., 2011) as a result of participating in SAS. In the quantitative phase of the study, curriculum relevancy and STEM attitudes were assessed with a pre- and post- adventure STEM experience survey. The qualitative portion of the study consisted of semi-structured in-person interviews with 14 students and eight teachers shortly after their SAS experience to gain additional insights into the results of the statistical analysis and identify how students and teachers see the relevancy of adventure STEM curriculum. This study’s findings add to the body of adventure STEM literature and lends support to the positive benefits of engaging youth in adventure STEM programming.