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Effectiveness of Reptile Species Identification – A Comparison of a Dichotomous Key With an Identification Book

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Author(s): Randler, C. and Zehender, I.

Journal: Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education
ISSN 1305-8223

Volume: 2;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 55;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: Identification Skill Training | Classification Task | Self-Regulated Learning | Identification Keys | Model

ABSTRACT
Species identification tasks are a prerequisite for an understanding of biodiversity. Here, we focused ondifferent educational materials to foster the identification of six European reptile species. Our educational training unitwas based on natural plastic models of six species and pupils either used an illustrated identification book or adichotomous key. 71 secondary school pupils (6th graders) from four classes participated in our study and received ahands-on lesson about the identification of these species. 37 of them were aided by an identification book, and 34received a dichotomous key. We found a significant increase in identification skills immediately after and with a delayof four weeks in both treatment groups. Further, we found no differences in achievement between both groups nor didwe detect differences in the emotional variables (well-being, interest, boredom) or in the difficulty of the task. Wepropose that species identification should be taught in everyday school life using models and identification materialsthat allow a learner-centred environment.
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