1 Universidad Politécnica de Valencia. Instituto de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada de Zonas Costeras (IGIC) (SPAIN)
2 Facultad de Magisterio. Universitat de València. Departamento de Didáctica de las Ciencias Experimentales y Sociales (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 4020-4025
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1981
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
In this paper the methodology used for the teaching of the subject of “ecology” in the Environmental Sciences degree at the Polytechnic School of Gandia (Valencia Polytechnic University) is exposed.

The subject faces serious difficulties because it requires knowledge of other subjects. In addition, the programme is broad, and it is imperative to acquire the knowledge necessary for further subjects (management and conservation of biotic and abiotic resources, environmental impact assessment, adaptation to climate change, etc.). All this represents a significant effort both for teachers and students. Although academic results were good, the retention capacity of the acquired knowledge was not satisfactory, so it was necessary to propose a change in the methodology. Conventionally the subject had been taught with theoretical lectures.
The methodological changes that have taken place in the classes were based on the inversion of the role of teachers and students.

We decided to transform the inherent difficulty of the subject in an opportunity to learn to correlate the different knowledge acquired, building more complex thoughts and approaches.

The main objective is intended to enable students to achieve the integration of all abiotic and biotic components in the definition of an ecosystem and to explain and predict natural processes and / or anthropogenic modifications. In terms of transversal skills effective communication, critical thinking, awareness of contemporary issues and specific instrumental competence were develped.

Students were organized into different groups in order to prepare and give the classes of some of the topics. Their teaching, supported by a PowerPoint or similar presentation, should consist of several parts: a presentation of the concepts, exemplifications with explanation of scientific experiments, approach activities for the whole class and finally a set of questions and open answer to be undertaken by all students. The same presentations (once revised and amended) were the material for the assessment of the theoretical part of the subject.

The evaluation was conducted in three ways: observations of learners in the classroom, results of the evaluations, and valuation of the knowledge acquired in courses of the following year.

The main conclusions of this experience are:
Teaching units with better results were as follows: life cycles, population dynamics, distribution patterns, intraspecific competition, interspecific competition, predation and herbivory, and parasitism and symbiosis.

The most successful classes were those that were developed using environmental interpretation techniques. The topics were organised developing a script-argument, which was synthesized in a text with the fundamental concepts raised in the introduction and completed in the final summary.

The horizontal exchange has increased, but the teacher acts as mediator and guide. Even when the students organise the class, the teacher is still the class leader, and that was considered a positive factor in the experience; leadership is held together with increased accountability on the part of students.

Finally, we consider essential to leave a margin for personal choice: spontaneous establishment of the groups, autonomy of choice in relation to the topic among those proposed and wide margin of freedom in relation to the methodology when giving the class, both in content and form.
Ecology classes, higher education, teacher role.