Visualizing pre-service biology teachers´ conceptions about population dynamics in ecosystems

Sabine Meister, Corinne Zimmerman, Annette Upmeier zu Belzen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


The Balance of Nature (BoN) metaphor leads to various naïve conceptions about ecosystem dynamics that do not address current scientific theories adequately. An appropriate alternative is the Flux of Nature (FoN) metaphor. Approaches to conceptual development in science education aim for learners to develop scientifically adequate conceptions rather than maintain naïve conceptions. Our goal was to investigate naïve BoN conceptions and their sources with the method of visualization. Therefore, we examined pre-service biology teachers’ (n = 26) conceptions about ecosystem dynamics by asking them to draw and explain line graphs to predict the development of a population. Graphs and explanations were analyzed with qualitative content analysis and assigned into categories related to either the BoN or the FoN metaphor. The majority of the graphical predictions were found to be in line with the BoN metaphor, which replicates the findings of previous studies. Additionally, the method of visualization shows that a common model used in ecology that is often presented in biological textbooks influenced the predictions made by our participants. When used uncritically, this model can support naïve BoN conceptions. Thus, our results suggest that the use of scientific models and pedagogical materials may influence conceptual development in this context.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience Education
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


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