Teaching Species Identification – A Prerequisite for Learning Biodiversity and Understanding Ecology
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University of Leipzig, Leipzig, GERMANY
Publish date: 2008-10-22
EURASIA J. Math., Sci Tech. Ed 2008;4(3):223–231
Animal and plant species identification is often emphasized as a basic prerequisite for an understanding of ecology and training identification skills seems a worthwhile task in biology education. Such identification tasks could be embedded into hands-on, groupbased and self-determined learning: a) Teaching and learning should make use of a small selection of species (6-8) and b) these species should be embedded into learning about their natural and life history; c) different materials could be used for identification, i.e. stuffed taxidermies, plastic models or pictures. However, pictures seem only a second choice; d) ideally, pupils use identification books or dichotomous keys for their identification task to foster their methodological skills and to promote lifelong learning by enabling them to make use of such books and keys; e) if the preference is on identification keys rather than on illustrated material, pupils should be trained previously to cope better with the extrinsic load put on them by the difficult material; f) outdoor field trips and excursions should be employed only after a proper preparation in the classroom.