Academic journal article Education

Biology Student Teachers' Conceptual Frameworks regarding Biodiversity

Academic journal article Education

Biology Student Teachers' Conceptual Frameworks regarding Biodiversity

Article excerpt

Biodiversity, the variety and variability of living organisms and the ecological patterns of which they are a part, has received a great deal of attention worldwide since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 (van Weelie & Wals, 2002). The reasons for this attention are the increase of human activities on biodiversity, rainforest destruction, habitat fragmentation, species extinction, water and air pollution, alteration of natural cycles and many other environmental problems. Biodiversity is affected also by global climate changes and its effect on the human population. The protection of biodiversity is defined as one of the basic roads leading to sustainability. However, a global threat to biodiversity increases daily. The dramatic decrease in biodiversity, one of the most serious results of the global environmental crisis, is accepted as one of the most basic issues of our times (Gayford, 2000).

Biodiversity generally includes three main factors, namely genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity. These factors are important parameters of sustainable development (Kassas, 2002). Biodiversity is a sign of a healthy environment. However, excessive and unsustainable use of biological or natural resources has caused significant damage to biodiversity and the situation has become a threat to human life. Respecting nature, improving the quality of life, and protecting the biodiversity of the planet are principles of a sustainable community. The dependence of humanity on biodiversity, now and in the future, is unavoidable, because the continuation of man's existence depends on ecosystem services for lodging, clothing, drugs, and food. With regard to sustainable development, in order for humanity to continue its existence, it is necessary to provide a sustainable use of biodiversity. Therefore, it is very important to raise individuals with an awareness of the necessity to protect biodiversity to conserve its global richness.

In educational terminology, biodiversity is an environmental and ecological buzz-word and an ill-defined or fuzzy concept (Dreyfus et al., 1999; Richardson & Hari, 2008; van Weelie & Wals, 2002). Furthermore, the lack of clarity regarding assumptions, ethics, possibilities, and limitations about the depletion of biodiversity is part of the problems of education (Gayford, 2000). For these reasons, biodiversity has become the focal point of educational research in recent times. However, little research is presently carried out on biology student teachers' conceptual frameworks regarding the aspects of biodiversity. The study of biology student teachers' conceptual frameworks is quite important from the perspective of the development of environmental education and scientific literacy.

Most research about biodiversity is generally focused on biodiversity education (Dreyfus et al., 1999; Gayford, 2000; Kassas, 2002; Lindemann-Matthies et al., 2009; van Weelie & Wals, 2002), loss of biodiversity (Kim & Byrne, 2006; Menzel & Bogeholz, 2009), educational programs (Lindemann-Matthies, 2002), and students' knowledge about biodiversity (Menzel & Bogeholz, 2009; Summers et al., 2001; Yorek et al., 2008). Summers et al. (2000; 2001) investigate the understanding of practicing primary school teachers, and secondary science trainees about four environmental issues (biodiversity, the carbon cycle, ozone, and global warming). Researchers define the well-understood and not understood scientific concepts about the said environmental issues. Results have shown that most participants agree on the necessity of biodiversity and its benefits on humanity. However, some incomplete concepts and misconceptions about biodiversity have been reported. Moreover, in these studies it has been indicated that good subject knowledge is necessary for the best teaching.

From the perspective of science education, the teaching of biodiversity in schools for students in the 11-18 age group is considered a controversial issue. …

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