Master's Defensio


Katharina Frick BEd

Zoological identification courses at university: modified teaching design enhances learning success of student teachers

Advisors: Harald Krenn, Barbara-Amina Gereben-Krenn

Master's Defensio - Thursday, April 29th 2021


Species knowledge plays an important role in biodiversity conservation. How much pupils learn about species diversity in school mainly depends on the teachers’ expertise. Therefore, the training of future teachers bears a lot of responsibility. Study programs mostly include only a few courses that promote the acquisition of appropriate knowledge and skills. These must be designed to be as effective as possible. The present study, therefore, investigated whether easily implemented changes in the existing design of zoological identification exercises can increase learning success. Within the framework of a course at the University of Vienna, the knowledge gain of 178 student teachers was tested. Based on two test groups different options for the design of the course were evaluated. The results show that by providing well-structured information about the course objects and their recognition characteristics before the practical exercise sequence, student’s acquisition of species knowledge can be increased. No negative effects of this measure on the acquisition of skills for independent identification with dichotomous identification keys could be found. Consequently, it can be assumed that this type of course design promotes both the acquisition of knowledge and the learning of relevant skills. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some of the course units studied had to be taught digitally. Therefore, important insights for the design of zoological determination courses in times of home-learning could be gained in addition to the findings for courses that take place in the classroom.