Ecological Concept Development at the Elementary School Level
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This case study of one school was designed to examine the level of knowledge and understanding elementary students (ages 9 – 13) have for key ecological concepts that are found in the Ontario 2007 science curriculum guidelines for grades 4, 6, and 8. This study utilizes the research design technique of concept analysis to investigate the level of maturity of understanding found in elementary students‟ definitions for these ecological concepts. The study revealed that a majority of students possess a limited understanding of the concepts of photosynthesis, decomposition, greenhouse gas, recycling and biodiversity. The study also found that students possess quite varied meanings for the concepts of the environment, sustainability and green. This limited understanding of concepts and the variability of meaning demonstrated that there was limited growth in concept development from grade 4 to grade 8. The results of this one study may encourage educators to consider further the importance of focusing on ecological concept development in elementary education.