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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Kapelari, Suzanne [1], Sladky-Meraner, Sabine [1], Pistrich, Daniela [1].

Green stuff - A joint project of schools and botanic gardens to develop evidence based and theory guided learning environments.

Botanic Gardens are superb locations for inquiry based science education. Situated in urban areas, they are easily accessible for school classes and particularly appropriate to support teachers and students in doing “hands on science” with living organisms. The purpose of this study was to examine and evaluate an integrated plant related education program, which aims to combine formal and non formal learning. Three modules were designed to engage 8-10 year old students in inquiry based science learning taking place at school as well as at the botanical garden. Learning units included a wide range of different learning activities to engage pupils in higher order thinking tasks and to support them to develop a correct understanding of the basic scientific concepts. A community of practice was created between teachers and botanic garden educators to develop a shared understanding of how to use botanic gardens as potential learning sites. The study ran at the University Botanical Gardens in Innsbruck, Austria and involved 120 students and 5 teachers. First results indicate that: 1) Taking part in a community of practice led to a differentiated understanding of teachers for the role Botanic Gardens can play in creating an supportive inquiry based learning environment 2) The majority of students showed an increase in understanding of various scientific concepts. To develop a correct concept of “How trees actually grow” seems to be a real challenge for 8-10 year olds. Pupils appear to be reluctant to accept that secondary thinking is different to the growth of grass or flowers. They do show an understanding of single facts related to secondary thickening but have difficulties to get the overall picture. Finally we conclude that Botanic Gardens are potential learning sites to support students’ conceptual understanding as well as to generate a situational interest in learning about plants. However it is absolutely necessary to validate how efficient teaching programs are to support the development of favoured learning outcomes.

Broader Impacts:

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Related Links:
Boatnical garden education at the University Botanic Gardens, Innsbruck Austria

1 - University of Innsbruck, Institute of Botany, Sternwartestraße 15, Innsbruck, Austria, 6020, Tirol

botanic garden education
inquiry-based learning
plant science education
primary science
education research.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 34
Location: 554B/Convention Center
Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
Time: 11:00 AM
Number: 34004
Abstract ID:262

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