|Randler, C; Bogner, FX: Cognitive achievement of group-based hands-on identification skill training, Journal of Biological Education, 40(4), 161-166 (2006)
Species identification tasks generally are understood as fundamental aspects of educational approaches to appreciate biodiversity. Our educational training unit, therefore, focused on identification skills by introducing stuffed taxidermies in combination with identification books and small preparation booklets. We have limited the number of bird species which had to be identified to six. A pilot study with novice pupils showed an identification potential for bird species on a higher taxonomic level (avian family or order), but never for the appropriate and complete species name. In our main study, 492 secondary school pupils (163 from 8th grade of the highest and 329 from 9th grade of the medium stratification level) participated in a hands-on lesson about the natural history of the six bird species involved. 65 Biology freshmen of an university class were used as control group prior to training. The surveyed variables were composed of achievement skills, learning emotions (interest, well-being, anxiety and boredom) and self-regulated learning success. Control classes were taught in a conventional teacher-centred manner. Pupils from our hands-on classes achieved significantly better in both follow-up tests independently of the stratification levels. However, with regard to the surveyed emotions in just one variable (well-being) a significant difference appeared although pupils appreciated the self-regulation. In general, a shift of unspecified labelling to the specific depiction was visible: for instance, duck or gull to mallard and black-headed gull. Altogether, a species number reduction within a lesson unit generally seems to enhance learning and retention effects.