Knowledge of species, interest in nature, and nature experiences are the factors that
best promote interest in and understanding of environmental issues, biodiversity and
sustainable life. The aim of this study is to investigate how well student teachers
identify common local species, their interest in and ideas about species identification,
and their perceptions of the importance of species identification and biodiversity for
sustainable development. Totally 456 student teachers for primary schools were tested
using an identification test and a questionnaire consisting of fixed and open questions.
A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods was used to get a more holistic
view of students' level of knowledge and their preferred learning methods. The student
teachers' ability to identify very common species was low, and only 3 % were able to
identify most of the tested species. Experiential learning outdoors was suggested by
the majority of students as the most efficient learning method, followed by experiential
learning indoors, project work and experimental learning. They looked upon the
identification of plants and animals as 'important' or 'very important' for citizens today
and for sustainable development. Likewise, they looked upon biodiversity as 'important'
or 'very important' for sustainable development. Our conclusion is that teaching and
learning methods for identification and knowledge of species and for education of
project-based methods in authentic environments.
biodiversity and sustainable development should always include experiential and