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An Assessment of Students' Understanding of Ecosystem Concepts: Conflating Ecological Systems and Cycles
ARTICLE

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Applied Environmental Education and Communication Volume 8, Number 1, ISSN 1533-015X

Abstract

Teaching ecological concepts in schools is important in promoting natural science and environmental education for young learners. Developing educational programs is difficult, however, because of complicated ecological processes operating on multiple levels, the unlimited nature of potential system interactions (given the openness of systems), and their often-times nonlinear dynamic processes. To understand how to effectively support learning requires first understanding how students organize their ideas and develop conceptions about the nature of ecological processes. This study investigates understanding of ecological processes using aquaria as a model closed system in a science classroom. Understanding was assessed using worksheets completed during classroom instruction. Student responses and models were coded to elucidate naive conceptions and conceptual shifts. Our data make salient an area in which students confuse related concepts with respect to ecosystems and cycles and offer suggestions on how to address student understanding of ecological concepts, such as the explicit delineation of systems and cycles. (Contains 3 tables and 2 figures.)

Citation

Jordan, R., Gray, S., Demeter, M., Lui, L. & Hmelo-Silver, C.E. (2009). An Assessment of Students' Understanding of Ecosystem Concepts: Conflating Ecological Systems and Cycles. Applied Environmental Education and Communication, 8(1), 40-48. Retrieved March 8, 2021 from .

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