Ecology may be seen as one of the main topics of biological education as it functions at the interface of several other aspects of biology. Although it may easily be conveyed through field trips and hands-on activities, it is taught theoretically most of the time and in traditional ecosystems like forests or lakes. For this study, new teaching material has been developed that demonstrates the exploration of more special or “atypical” ecosystems in biology classes. It combines working in a local vineyard with hands-on elements for school. By exploring a human-made ecosystem, which is different from those traditionally used, students gain content knowledge and get to know scientific methods. In our case study, students’ learning progress, motivation, and enjoyment of learning were measured. The results indicate that teaching at an out-of-school learning site as well as working with hands-on materials not only has a motivational effect but also increases enjoyment of learning. Furthermore, neglected ecosystems like vineyards serve as new and fitting examples for teaching ecological and plant-biological topics. The results indicate a significant learning gain for the participants. Thus, biology curricula should be broadened to include more and local plants and ecosystems.
“I Learned It through the Grapevine…”: Exploring Atypical Ecosystems in Schools as a New Out-of-School Learning Site
Astrid von Albedyll, Aline Fritsch, Daniel Dreesmann; “I Learned It through the Grapevine…”: Exploring Atypical Ecosystems in Schools as a New Out-of-School Learning Site. The American Biology Teacher 1 May 2017; 79 (5): 351–364. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2017.79.5.351
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