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The Importance of Ecology Fieldwork in English Secondary School Curricula

Tynan, R (2023) The Importance of Ecology Fieldwork in English Secondary School Curricula. In: EDULEARN23 Proceedings . pp. 2789-2797. (EDULEARN 2023, 3-5 July, Palma, Majorca, Spain).


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A government white paper in 2010 [1] re-established school subject knowledge as the foundation for curriculum design in English schools, and written end-tests as the only assessment tool for public examinations. Course work, practical tests and modular tests could no longer contribute to most external qualifications aimed at 16-year-olds and 19-year-olds.The examination specifications for science subjects specify that learners experience a number of required practicals to develop their experimental research skills [2] [3]. However, those skills are only tested on the final written examination, through questions referring to the required practicals [2] [3]. Ecology concepts are important components of English examination board biology specifications [2] [3], but the position of fieldwork has weakened despite having many educational advantages [4].The fieldwork needed has been reduced to estimating the population size of a common species in a habitat [2] for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and investigating the effect of a named environmental factor on the distribution of a given species for General Certificate of Education (GCE) A-Level [3]. This is a minimum requirement, and it can be argued that a critical approach to these activities will lead to discussion of a wide range of field work sampling and measurement techniques.This paper discusses the ecology subject knowledge and required practicals in the AQA examination specifications [2] [3] and learning, teaching and assessment (LTA) activities developed after centre and teacher led field work at Field Studies Council field centres [5]. These have been adapted in order to utilise sand dune and saltmarsh ecosystems local to teachers in Liverpool and Merseyside schools. It also describes pre-service science teachers’ introduction to these ecosystems during their initial teacher education programme at a Higher Education (HE) qualified teacher status (QTS) provider.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: ecology; biology; science; STEM; required practicals; examination; investigation skills; teacher subject knowledge; fieldwork; sampling; estimating populations
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
Divisions: Education
Publisher: International Academy of Technology, Education and Development (IATED)
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 05 May 2023 11:24
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2023 11:09
DOI or ID number: 10.21125/edulearn.2023
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19463
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