A significant body of research reveals that students have difficulties in understanding basic concepts and phenomena related to the functions of plants as well as their role in the natural ecosystems, and thus fail to appreciate the need to protect the flora of their country. Furthermore, although the modules dedicated on plants are an important part of the curricula at the elementary school, teaching is often limited into teaching-centered methods while the lack of knowledge and skills concerning issues of teaching approaches by the teachers, discourages any attempt for implementation of environmental education programs.
The “Flora” research project is sponsored by the Research Promotion Foundation 2006-2009. It aims to create and evaluate learning material on the flora of Cyprus and its protection as well as to train teachers in order to become able to teach in both conditions of formal and non-formal education. Specifically, it includes actions for the development of: (a) learning environment for students 6-12 years old concerning the plants (structure, function, systematic, ecology and conservation) and will consist material of enrichment into the curriculum of the course of “Science” in the elementary school, (b) researching validation of an Environmental Education Program that will promote environmental awareness, based on the natural and built environment of Cyprus, with an emphasis on the local flora and its protection, and (c) teacher training material for teachers concerning both the conceptual content of learning materials as well as the innovative teaching and methodological approaches.
The learning material incorporates elements of experiential learning and field research, of experimentation and skill development for data processing, of investigation and critical thinking. The design of teaching materials is based on researching data concerning the concepts of the students about the structure, function, taxonomy, ecology and conservation of plants as well as the difficulties that students encounter during field research, experimentation and data processing in their trial to produce scientific knowledge. The design of the teacher’s manual is based on researching data concerning the identification of difficulties in the teaching of the relevant subjects.
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