Sustainable development, biodiversity and species identification – “all are various concepts, I can´t connect them to each other in my mind”

Year: 2016

Author: Yli-Panula, Eija, Persson, Christel

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The concepts related to environment such as sustainable development (SD) are difficult to understand. The environmentally bound concept biodiversity (BD) as part of the sustainable development is undefined and it is not even a well-known concept. These two biological concepts are value based and multifaceted and are connected to the concept of the species identification (SI). Based on these earlier findings and that little is known how well prepared teachers are to familiarize their students in environmental concepts and how well the concepts are understood among teachers, this research aimed to study what kind of conceptions do the student teachers have of the following concepts: species identification, biodiversity and sustainable development and how well they understand the relationships between these three concepts?The data of this survey has been collected in southwestern Finland and Sweden in autumn 2011. The study subjects (186) were asked to describe the three concepts SI, BD and SD and their relationships. Special emphasis was given to use drawings such as mind maps or concept maps to explain the relationships. In inductive content based analysis student teachers´ understanding of the three concepts and their relationships were studied. The analyses were carried out in three groups: answers with text, with text and drawings or only drawings. The results show, firstly, the three concepts were connected to each other via student teachers´ knowledge or understanding, e.g. the importance of conserving the nature and the understanding of its function as well as man´s interest in the nature and understanding of the basic biological phenomena were emphasized as important matters necessary for comprehending the multifaceted concepts. Secondly, the concepts were connected to each other via man´s actions, e.g. when describing the relationships between the concepts man´s actions were repeatedly mentioned. Man´s action and the way of living have an effect on conservation of the BD. Furthermore, people benefit from BD and take this into account when evaluating the importance of SD. Thirdly, the relationships of the concepts were difficult to understand by the students. In this case the connections between the concepts were not identified at all or the connections were not clearly described. Especially the relationships between SI knowledge and BD or SD were difficult to understand. To our knowledge this is the first time the student teachers’ understanding regarding the relationships between these three concepts are studied.