Ecological understanding : a space of variation
Sammanfattning: This thesis aims at increasing the knowledge of ecological understanding. For this purpose a phenomenographic approach, founded on the theory of variation, is adopted. As a means of expanding the outcome space, a Vygotskian approach to learning is also applied. In line with this, the respondents´ thinking has been deliberately challenged by interventions. these changes of views, and the situations in which they occured are described on both a collective and an induvidual level of awareness. Ten teacher students, chosen by theoretical sampling, has been interviewed on three occasions. The aim of the first interview was to reveal the respondents´ experiences of their relationship to nature. In doing this, photos, taken by respondents, served as concrete, shared objects of attention. In the second and third interview scientific, rather than experential aspects were focused on. To explore ways of understanding the function of the ecosystem two problem solving situations were arranged. Using a systems approach the functional aspects of the ecosystem have been explored, with photosynthesis, recycling and energy as units of analysis. In the third interview also an explanatory text was used as a research tool. The results indicate that the idea of transformation is crucial to a development of ecological understanding. This idea divides the categories into a consumptional and a transformational group. The structure of ecological understanding was also found to be hierarchical in terms of inclusion of critical aspects in more complex ways of thinking. For example, in the most complex form of thinking, a time frame was included. The investigation has shown that the relationship to nature could be described in two qualitatively different ways, Self in nature, and Self and nature. In the former, the respondent sees him- or herself as an integrated, mutually dependent part of nature, while in the latter, humans were separated from nature. No obvious coupling seems to exist between ways of relating to nature and ways of understanding the ecosystem’s function. The identified categories and their critical aspects indicate fruitful paths for learning and crucial dimensions to open up in teaching. Thus, the results concern teachers´ professional object, i.e., an emphasis on what to achieve in teaching and learning.
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