Nordic–Baltic Student Teachers’ Identification of and Interest in Plant and Animal Species: The Importance of Species Identification and Biodiversity for Sustainable Development

Oct. 01, 2015

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, Volume 26, Issue 6 (October, 2015), p. 549–571 (Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study aims to investigate how well student teachers identify common local species, their interest in and ideas about species identification, and their perceptions of the importance of species identification and biodiversity for sustainable development.

The participants were 456 student teachers for primary schools, who were tested using an identification test and a questionnaire consisting of fixed and open questions. The participants were from four countries: 227 Finnish, 131 Swedish, 68 Norwegian and 30 Lithuanian.


The Nordic–Baltic students’ level of identification of species was tested using high quality photos of very common species. The student teachers’ ability to identify very common species was low, and only 3 % were able to identify most of the tested species. The authors argue that a professional teacher should be familiar with all common species in their own neighborhood and those presented in school books, in order to understand ecological phenomena and the role of species in biodiversity and sustainable development.

Furthermore, knowledge of species, together with an interest in nature and nature experiences, are factors known to promote understanding of environmental issues, biodiversity and sustainable development. Thus it is positive that over 60 % of the students reported a very high or high interest in nature and species.

The authors also found that majority of students suggested that the most efficient teaching, studying and learning method is outdoor experiential learning, where learning is activated by experiences and the use of all senses in authentic environments with living plants and animals.
In addition, the large majority of the students emphasized the importance of species identification for biodiversity, and especially for sustainable development.

The authors conclude that teaching and learning methods in teacher-education programs should at least include more experiential and project-based methods in authentic environments in the future. They argue that authentic learning environments proved to be valuable places of learning, where students are focused on carrying out their tasks and solve the problems that were provided.

Updated: Jun. 19, 2017