Didactics of Biology and Environmental Education
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide students the basic scientific and methodological tools for teaching/learning Biology in the school context and for the elaboration/implementation of Environmental Education activities oriented towards sustainability.
At the end of the training activity students should have acquired basic knowledge and skills necessary to develop autonomously educational disciplinary activities of Biology and interdisciplinary activities of Environmental Education oriented towards sustainability in different school and extra-school contexts.
At the end of the course, in particular, the student should be able to:
D1. Knowledge and understanding
To know the fundamental functions of living beings, their interactions at increasing levels of complexity.
To know the relationships between organisms and the environment, between organisms at different levels of biological organization and what does sustainability (environmental, economic and social) means.
To know the emerging properties of populations, communities and ecosystems.
To know and understand the professional and ethical responsibilities of a teacher/educator, particularly in the perspective of sustainability.
To know the essential aspects involved in teaching/ learning processes.
To know teaching methods and techniques that can be used to promote the transfer/construction of knowledge (in particular in the field of Biology and Ecological/Environmental sciences) in different teaching/learning contexts.
D2. Applying knowledge and understanding
To use the specific language of didactics and educational sciences.
To apply the main techniques of biological and ecological analysis at an educational level.
To apply knowledge acquired (also reading scientific publications in english, related to didactics of Biology and environmental education oriented towards sustainability) to develop and implement simple “Learning Units” aimed at different subjects.
D3. Making judgments
To evaluate and interpret experimental data (including those related to research in the educational field).
To critically use data both from scientific and educational literature.
To evaluate and critically use different teaching methods and techniques in carrying out educational activities, in the field of Biology and Environmental Education oriented towards sustainability.
To evaluate the professional and ethical responsibilities of a teacher/educator.
To evaluate teaching, to be a reflective teacher/educator who is able both to self-assess its own competences and to evaluate students’ skills and competences.
To communicate to and to discuss (clearly, concisely and possibly effectively) biological/environmental data, with students of different school levels and with an untrained public, also using Information Technologies tools.
D5. Lifelong learning skills
To study independently, analysing in depth what was discussed in class, also thanks to the documentation provided.
To update the own knowledge and skills through the consultation of bibliographic material and databases for the didactics of Biology and Environmental Education oriented towards sustainability and through the attendance at seminars or training courses.
To acquire a methodology of study that allows to integrate university education in a lifelong learning perspective.
To connect in a transversal way, both scientifically and methodologically, the topics approached in the different university courses.
To evaluate the personal level of understanding by trying to simulate the use of what discussed in class, in a specific situation (in a class).
To acquire skills required for the inclusion in professional activities at the end of the three-year course.
Basic knowledge of Biology and Ecology.
Course contents summary
The first part of the course aims to provide the essential elements of the teaching/learning processes: learning theories, teaching methods and techniques.
The second part, in particular, deals with problems, perspectives and practices related to the Didactics of Biology, while the third part develops by addressing the main scientific-methodological aspects that characterize Environmental Education oriented towards sustainability.
Introduction to the terms «education», «teaching» and their meaning
Didactics and teaching/learning processes
From knowledge to competences
The main learning theories (short introduction)
Biology and the study of living beings (Analytic and systemic approach to the study of Biology, Structural and Functional Biology, Notes on the history of Biology)
Didactics of Biology today: challenges, problems and perspectives
Themes and key concepts of Biology (a proposal for teaching)
The main teaching methods and teaching techniques (characteristics of the main active techniques, laboratory didactics)
The main normative references for the Didactics of Biology
The vertical curriculum in the Didactics of Biology
The design of Learning Units in Biology
From the Didactics of Biology to Environmental Education; perspectives and reflections
The transition from environmental education to environmental education oriented towards sustainability (short references to the historical/evolutionary path)
The concept of sustainability
Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The main ethical approaches for living beings and sustainability
The concept of sustainability and its educational declinations
Learning contexts for Environmental education oriented towards sustainability
A glance at environmental education oriented towards sustainability in the Italian context (normative references, practices in the school and extraschool context)
The planning of activities/projects in environmental education oriented towards sustainability (educators and students’ skills and competences, evaluation processes, learning units)
Sustainable schools: the proposal of a whole school approach
The planning in environmental education oriented towards sustainability in the extraschool context (short hints and examples of projects and/or activities)
The study materials will be provided/indicated by the teacher during the course.
In particular: the slides used to support the lessons and the indications on the related study materials will be uploaded (in the immediately following days) on the Elly platform.
Please note that:
- the slides are considered an integral part of the teaching material but need to be necessarily integrated with the study of the suggested documents;
- to download the slides and the indications of the study materials it is necessary to register online for the course;
- for non-attending students it is suggested to periodically check the educational materials and the indications provided by the teacher through the Elly platform.
Lectures and participatory methods to support an active involvement of students.
Active teaching techniques (brainstorming, debriefing, etc.)
Educational planning laboratory.
Video and multimedia materials are used during the lessons.
Assessment methods and criteria
The learning assessment will require the student to demonstrate the acquirement of knowledge and the ability to apply them in specific educational contexts.
The learning assessment will be carried out through an oral exam preceded by a multiple choice written test (lasting a maximum of 15 minutes) consisting of 10 questions related to the basic concepts discussed during the Course.
The test aims:
a) to allow the student to take (immediately after) the oral exam (if he is passed with at least 6 correct answers);
b) to invite the student to a more accurate study before undergoing the oral exam (if the number of correct answers is lower than 6).
The result of this test will be communicated immediately at its completion.
It's important to underline the the results of the test does not contribute to the final vote of the exam that will be determined by the oral exam.
During this exam the knowledge and skills acquired by the student will be evaluated, as well as the ability to make transversal links on the topics covered during the lessons.
The student will be assessed in relation to the achievement of the educational objectives discussed above.
In order to verify the achievement of these objectives, the questions asked will be both theoretical and applicative, aimed at assessing knowledge, ability for independent and original reworking and to apply knowledge, ability to deal with simple situations that could be found in school contexts, as well as to connect, compare and deepen the acquired knowledge.
The questions will be in a variable number, depending on their characteristics (eg general or specific, theoretical or applicative).
An insufficient evaluation will be assigned in case of failure to achieve the educational objectives mentioned above (eg lack of knowledge, inability to use an appropriate specific vocabulary, lack of adequate preparation, inability to analyze the concepts addressed and to make independent judgments).
A fully sufficient evaluation (18-21/30) is determined by the demonstration of having the minimum and fundamental contents of the course; a sufficient level of preparation and the ability to analyze the concepts addressed at least in their essential features and to formulate independent judgments at a sufficient level.
An intermediate evaluation is formulated if student demonstrates that he/she has achieved the specific learning objectives discussed above at a more than sufficient (22-24/30) or good (25-27/30) level.
An optimal or excellent evaluation is determined by the total achievement of the educational objectives and it is evidenced by the highest scores (28-30/30 with praise).