DIDACTICS OF BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
cod. 1007921

Academic year 2023/24
3° year of course - First semester
Professor
- Antonella BACHIORRI
Academic discipline
Ecologia (BIO/07)
Field
A scelta dello studente
Type of training activity
Student's choice
48 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit
in ITALIAN

Learning objectives

The course aims to provide students with the fundamental scientific and methodological tools for teaching / learning Biology in the school context and for the design / implementation of activities in the field of environmental education for sustainability.
At the end of the training activity, the student should have acquired the basic knowledge and skills necessary to autonomously develop didactic / educational activities in the field of Biology and in the perspective of environmental education for sustainability in school and extra-school contexts, as well as the skills required for the professional placement in the educational field, at the end of the three-year course.

In particular, at the end of the course student should be able to:

D1. Knowledge and understanding
- To Know the essential elements of the teaching / learning processes;
- To Know teaching methods and techniques that can be used to promote the development of knowledge (in particular in the field of Biology and ecological / environmental sciences) in different teaching / learning contexts;
- To understand their professional and ethical responsibilities, particularly from the perspective of sustainability.

D2. Application skills
- to be able to develop themes / topics typical of Biology and environmental education (e.g. the fundamental functions of living beings, their interactions at levels of increasing complexity, the relationships between organisms and the environment, the concept of sustainability) at a didactic level;
- to be able to use the specific language of teaching and educational sciences;
- to be able to apply the scientific-methodological approaches of biological and ecological analysis especially at the didactic / educational level;
- to be able to apply the knowledge acquired (also through the reading of scientific publications in English relating to the Didactics of Biology and Environmental Education for Sustainability) to develop and implement simple "Learning Units".

D3. Autonomy of judgment
- to be able to evaluate and interpret experimental data (including those related to research in the didactic / educational field);
- to be able to critically use data from scientific as well as didactic / pedagogical literature;
- to be able to critically evaluate and use different methodologies and techniques for the implementation of educational activities in the field of Biology and environmental education for sustainability;
- to be able to evaluate the professional and ethical responsibilities of a teacher / educator.
- to be able to evaluate teaching, to be a reflective professional, able to self-evaluate his/her own skills as well as those of their students.

D4. Communication skills
- to be able to present and discuss data and / or topics and problems (in the biological / environmental /sustainability area) to students of different school levels and to a general public, in a clear, concise and possibly effective way, also using IT tools.

D5. Ability to learn
- to be able to study independently, deepening what was discussed in class, also thanks to the documentation provided.
- to be able to keep up to date by consulting bibliographic material and databases, of Didactics of Biology and environmental education for sustainability, and by participating in seminars and/or training courses;
- to acquire a learning methodology that allows the prosecution of university studies;
- to be able to connect in a transversal way, the different topics covered during the course (and in other courses), both at a scientific and methodological level;
- to be able to assess one's degree of understanding by trying to simulate (in a school class) the use of what is learned during the lessons.

Prerequisites


Basic knowledge of Biology and Ecology.

Course unit content


The course aims to provide the essential elements for understanding the main scientific and methodological aspects that characterize Didactics of Biology and Environmental Education.
The course, therefore, will develop by providing students with the fundamental elements to relate to:
• the teaching / learning processes and theories, teaching methods and techniques;
• the problems, perspectives and practices related to Didactics of Biology;
• the main scientific and methodological aspects that characterize environmental education for sustainability.
Last, but not least, in order to give substance to aspects as broad and complex as those mentioned above, the contents proposed during the course will offer the opportunity to reflect on virtuous experiences and best practices in different school and extra-school contexts..

Full programme

• 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 approaches; 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 for 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 for 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 for sustainability
• A glance at environmental education for sustainability in the Italian context (normative references, practices in the school and extraschool context)
• The planning of activities/projects in environmental education for 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 for sustainability in the extraschool context (short hints and examples of projects and/or activities)

Bibliography

Students of the course will be provided with an essential bibliography (with indication of monographs and /or articles relating to the various topics covered).
In addition to this:
- the slides used to support the lessons;
- any specific study materials (papers, videos, for instance);
will be provided and uploaded to the Elly platform in the days immediately following each lesson.
All the above materials are considered as integral part of the teaching material supporting the individual study.
Students are reminded of the importance of constantly checking the didactic material, as well as any information / communications provided through the Elly platform.

Teaching methods

Teaching activities will be organized by supporting active learning methods (e.g. through brainstorming, debriefing) alternated with lessons that will use a participatory method of exposition, supporting in any case, the involvement and continuous comparison with students.
Depending on the training objectives mentioned above, among the different methods:
- Case studies;
- In-depth seminars on some specific issues;
- Videos and multimedia materials
will also be used.

Assessment methods and criteria

Verifying learning will require students to demonstrate knowledge of the topics covered and the ability to apply what has been learned in specific educational contexts.

The summative assessment will consist of an oral test during which the knowledge and skills acquired by the student will be assessed.
The student needs to demonstrate that he/she has understood and is able to apply the fundamental concepts approached during the lessons, in relation to the objectives of the course specified above.
Particular attention will be paid to the evaluation of the ability to make transversal connections between different topics.
In order to verify the achievement of these objectives, the questions asked will be both theoretical and applicative and will be aimed at evaluating knowledge, the ability to their autonomous and original reworking, the ability to apply such knowledge, the ability to deal with simple situations that could be found in school contexts, as well as the ability to connect, compare and deepen the knowledge acquired.
The questions will vary in 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 set objectives (e.g. lack of knowledge of the minimum course contents, inability to express oneself with an appropriate vocabulary, inability to analyze the concepts addressed, to organize an argued speech and to formulate autonomous judgments).
A fully sufficient evaluation (18-21 / 30) is determined by the demonstration of having learned the minimum and fundamental contents of the course; by a sufficient level of preparation, by the ability to analyze at least in the essential features the concepts addressed, to organized a simple and argued speech and to formulate autonomous judgments at a sufficient level.
An intermediate evaluation is formulated if the student demonstrates that he/she has achieved the specific learning objectives set out above at a level that is more than sufficient (22-24 / 30) or good (25-27 / 30).
An excellent evaluation is determined by the total achievement of the training objectives and is evidenced by the highest scores (28-30 / 30 cum laude).
The evaluation of the oral test will be communicated immediately at its end.
In addition to the summative assessment, during the course an ongoing formative assessment (which can be carried out with the attending students) will be added. It will be useful for periodically assessing how students are learning. This assessment will be carried out informally during the lessons (eg by starting a discussion and / or asking questions to verify if and how the previously explained concepts have been understood). This evaluation also has the important objective of allowing to resume concepts that have not been adequately understood by students.

Other information