Proposal: Ecology rebecca l. morris #educ90970


  • Core 2nd year ecology subject in BSc
  • 200 students
  • Cross-school: BioSciences and Geography

On completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • SILO1. Explain the hierarchical structure of ecological systems, and why ecological systems change over time and space;
  • SILO2. Define and explain core ecological terms, concepts, and theories, including the role of scale;
  • SILO3. Demonstrate an ability to apply ecological reasoning to new situations;
  • SILO4 Collect and record ecological data;
  • SILO5 Use basic analytical techniques to understand and communicate ecological data.

Current course structure

Current Ecology of Resources

Problem Analysis

  • 20 years old - lacks coherence - not built for scale it operates at
  • First year re-structure, need to change curriculum at 2nd year

SES scores:

  • Practicals and field excursion were well-liked
  • Feedback was scored low - students didn't feel they learnt from practical assessment 1 to 2. They didn't know what was expected of them for the report.
  • They found some of the lecture content unengaging, but others too complex and would benefit from tutorials to help them understand.

Support: FlexAP funding in 2020 ($35,000)

Learning theories

(1) Create a course that is closer to the heutagogy end of the PAH spectrum (Blaschke, 2012)

  • Learner constructed knowledge (Constructivism) within a community (Social constructivism) (Palincsar, 1998)

(2) Increase the depth of student understanding into the application of theory

  • Problem based learning (Savery and Duffy, 1995), and authentic learning (Herrington and Herrington, 2007)

2021 Course Structure


24 x 15 minute videos to introduce ecological theories (all available at once so students can self-pace and reduce cognitive load)

Quizzes present problems associated with the ecological theory - authentic learning, demonstrates to the students how the theories can be applied.

F2F sessions used for a flipped classroom approach

Group problems-based activities and feedback to the class (peer learning)

Student-produced knowledge - short group presentations on applications of theory relevant to that lecture (self-determined learning and peer learning)

Incorporates learnings from heutagogy, social constructivism, and problem-based learning theories.


Apply the skills learnt in the first part of the semester to investigating a chosen hypothesis in a group project

Presentation of methods (Adobe Spark) for peer feedback (Google Forms)

Greater time for the group project allows for an iterative process and reflection on learning (Double loop learning)

Authentic learning - the hypothesis is formed within a problem. The report can be flexible (e.g., consultancy pitched to government, or scientific journal)

Ecology of Resources


Generic model for conducting educational design research (McKenney & Reeves, 2012)


Blaschke, L. M. (2012). Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 13(1), 56-71.

Herrington, A. J. & Herrington, J. A. (2007). What is an authentic learning environment?. In L. A. Tomei (Eds.), Online and distance learning: Concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications (pp. 68-77). Information Science Reference.

McKenney, S., and Reeves, T. (2012). Conducting educational design research. London: Routledge.

Palincsar, A. S. (1998). Social constructivist perspectives on teaching and learning. Annual review of psychology, 49(1), 345-375.

Savery, J. R., & Duffy, T. M. (1995). Problem based learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. Educational technology, 35(5), 31-38.

Created By
Rebecca Morris


Created with images by Man Chung - "Red beetle" • Ivan Bandura - "Quarry lake"