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.