Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Biology

Hauke Hellwig, Annette Upmeier zu Belzen
Teachers' educational concepts in environmental biology
How do teachers act at the meeting point of ecology, environment and sustainability? What are their concepts in biology classes?

While ecology is a substantial part of syllabuses of biology in secondary education sec­ond stage in Germany (Sek. II) environmental education has been implemented interdisci­plinary. Subsequent interdisciplinary didactics have not become transparent.

In contrast teacher training has still been specialised in subjects. In addition based on the Agenda 21 different initiatives towards education for sustainable development on state, sub-state and local level are ongoing. This indicates the risk that teachers make decisions concerning aims, contents and methods just intuitively.

On the other hand environmental issues in Sweden have been established as a obliging course underpinned with central syllabus including sustainable development. In 2001 three teaching traditions were identified: a fact-based, a normative and a pluralistic envi­ronmental education which can be related to education for sustainable development.

In order to be able to steer the development by teacher training the necessity to impose the as-is state is given. Research questions are:
  1. Which differentiable concepts of environmental education towards education for sustainable development exist among biology teachers in Germany and Sweden?
  2. What is the dissemination of the concepts in Germany and Sweden?

Teachers’ didactic concepts depend on their preconceptions about environmental issues as well as on their views on education and society. Different concepts can be distinguished and described qualitatively on the continuum of environmental biology between the poles “ecology in the narrower sense” and “education for sustainable development”.

The identification of the concepts in the space of biology classes starts from the theory of education as determined by Klafki. A concept is characterised by the consistent specification of the basic features for the analysis of classes: explanation context, aims, thematic and methodological structuring.

Differentiable aspects in their wide range have been collected by addressing an open questionnaire and interviews to experts and biology teachers in Germany and Sweden. Following the classical test theory the statements get transformed to a closed questionnaire with a five level Likert-scale. After item reduction by statistical means the final questionnaire will be run in a study all over Germany . Relating the results to those from a Swedish sample offers the possibility to locate the level of identified concepts according to the demands of education for sustainability.