Student representations and conceptions of ecological versus social sciences in a conservation course

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Abstract

There is consensus among scientists that it is important that students understand the nature of science (NOS) and are competent in using primary literature to support understanding of complicated environmental problems. Because environmental issues involve social and ecological complexities, there is a need to create educational frameworks whereby students learn how to integrate and apply knowledge from both natural and social sciences. To explore the interplay between undergraduate students’ conceptions of NOS for ecology and sociology and how students apply discipline-specific knowledge to a socio-ecological issue, we administered a NOS evaluative survey and analyzed data from student modeling practices within the context of a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE). We found that although students held similar conceptions of the NOS for both ecology and sociology disciplines, there were notable differences in how often and how accurately students applied discipline-specific knowledge when modeling a socio-ecological system. Such insight provides guidance for the development of future educational pedagogy that supports students’ ability to integrate knowledge from across natural and social sciences and applies it to real-world environmental issues.

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  • 13 March 2020

    The article Student representations and conceptions of ecological versus socialsciences in a conservation course, written by Amanda E. Sorensen, Jeffrey Brown, Ashley Alred, Joseph J. Fontaine and Jenny M. Dauer, was originally published electronically on the publisher’s internet portal (currently SpringerLink) on 13 February 2020 with open access.

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Correspondence to Amanda E. Sorensen.

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The article Student representations and conceptions of ecological versus socialsciences in a conservation course, written by Amanda E. Sorensen, Jeffrey Brown, Ashley Alred, Joseph J. Fontaine and Jenny M. Dauer, was originally published electronically on the publisher’s internet portal (currently SpringerLink) on 13 February 2020 with open access. With the author(s)’ decision to step back from Open Choice, the copyright of the article changed on [date the updated version will be/was published] to © AESS 2020 and the article is forthwith distributed under the terms of copyright.

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Sorensen, A.E., Brown, J., Alred, A. et al. Student representations and conceptions of ecological versus social sciences in a conservation course. J Environ Stud Sci 11, 139–149 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-020-00594-w

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Keywords

  • Nature of science
  • Higher education
  • Socio-ecological systems
  • Learning
  • Ecology