on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 11, Issue 2, Article 6 (Dec., 2010)
Conclusions and recommendations
The present study examined the effectiveness of the new 9th grade biology curriculum on ninth grade students’ environmental awareness. The study results revealed that the instructional methods of the new 9th grade biology curriculum applied in the experimental group were more effective in promoting and enhancing students’ environmental awareness when compared to the traditional instructional methods used in the control group.
The findings of the observation and interview in the study supported the results of the EAQ. As the students in the experimental group performed the activities, they were more active and enjoyed the courses more than the students in the control group, according to the observation results (Sahin et al., 2004; Turkish Environmental Atlas, 2009). The results of the interviews with the students in the experimental group showed that they were content with the new instructional methods in general. Most of the students also stated that the new instructional methods enhanced their environmental awareness and that they enjoyed the classes. The students shared that the information they learned was easy to remember and that they were more comfortable expressing themselves; in addition, they were excited about creating new products by participating in project-based assignments.
In conclusion, the current study was an evaluation of the effectiveness of the new 9th grade biology curriculum based on a constructivist approach supported by activities that explored students’ environmental awareness. This study illustrated that the new instructional methods, which were conducted as recommended in the new 9th grade biology curriculum, were effective at enhancing students’ environmental awareness and that students enjoyed their ecology courses more.
The study recommended that using the new instructional methods including outdoor activities (Carrier, 2009) for learning and teaching biology courses would help improve students’ skills and students’ attitudes toward biology. It should be noted that teachers play a crucial role in promoting students’ interest in biology (Prokop, Tuncer, & Chuda, 2007). If the students had experienced a low level of participation during environmental activities, they were unprepared at identifying and recommending solutions for the environmental problems in their surroundings (Ulucinar Sagir et al., 2008). Therefore, it is suggested that teachers, rather than relying on traditional instructional methods, apply new methods and effective techniques throughout their biology curriculum. Environmental education curriculum could include environmental knowledge, awareness and communities specific environmental issues and/or problems (Toili, 2007). It should be noted that student’ prior experiences and the content of their textbooks also impacted their knowledge about the environment (Paraskevopoulos, Padeliadu, & Zafiropoulos, 1998).
In this context, it is necessary that in-service and pre-service teachers are informed about the new methods, techniques and instructional technologies for biology instruction. Factors like individual differences, becoming biology literate, and using alternative assessment and evaluation methods also play a critical role in the implementation of the new 9th grade biology curriculum. In-service courses should be given to teachers. On the other hand, the content of the Student Selection and Placement System exam for university entrance should be revised in accordance with the new curricula in Turkey.
The study could be repeated with a larger sample size in order to validate the results. The effectiveness of the new 9th grade biology curriculum should be studied in terms of students’ achievement on several biology topics and students’ logical thinking styles beyond the students’ environmental awareness.
Furthermore, data for future studies can be collected by data triangulation and exploring other mediums that support environmental study, such as field trips, taking photographs, free association grids, fortune lines techniques, drawing and writing techniques and/or creating an ecology web page. To use different kinds of techniques in the implementation of the new 9th grade biology curriculum would benefit more conscientious students who take care of their environment and are enthusiastic to tackle environmental problems.
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