Ecological and environmental conceptions of students

Our study embraced the topic of the ecological and environmental conceptions of teenagers. The objective was to find what conceptions they had about ecology and environment in the biology class.

We reviewed the programs of teaching ecology and environment in Belgium, in the region of Flanders. We situated the study in the classrooms of different schools in the region. Students were 13 to 15 years old, and classes were 3rd and 4th level of the Flemish educational system.

Based on this and on the literature related to the conceptions, misconceptions and the research on conceptual change, we elaborated semi-open questions on students'conceptions to be administered to the teenagers in the form of a test. Then we also had observed the teenagers and their teacher during the sequence of lessons, where the ecology and environmental topics were taught.

The results of the test led to some interesting relations between selected and written answers from the students, who were concluding misconceptions, or explaining fine answers after selecting a wrong idea. We can with the written comments of the students improve or adapt the test.

The second phase permitted us to listen to the students talking or asking questions about the topic. Unfortunately the participation of the students was not strong. However, the experience of being in a classroom and watching the development of the lessons was of great interest, since we are at last studying this topic to improve teaching practices in the classroom environment.