Research in Science Education

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 511–530 | Cite as

Students’ Reasoning about the Future of Disturbed or Protected Ecosystems & the Idea of the ‘Balance of Nature’

  • Marida ErgazakiEmail author
  • Georgios Ampatzidis


This paper is part of a larger study that aims at highlighting students’ interpretations of the idea of the ‘Balance of Nature’, as well as its use in their reasoning about the future of an ecosystem, in order to subsequently develop a learning environment that might promote a reconsideration of its validity and usefulness. Our focus here is particularly set on whether and how non biology-major students use this idea when making predictions about (a) the future of an ecosystem that is supposed to have suffered a human-driven disturbance, and (b) the future of an ecosystem that is supposed to be protected against such disturbances. Administering a questionnaire of 12 items - 4 of which concern us here - to 61 1st-year educational sciences students at the University of Patras, we traced - among others - their reasoning about (a) the future of three ecosystems (forest, sea, lake), supposed to have suffered different human-driven disturbances (fire, oil spill, new population introduction), and (b) the future of a protected forest ecosystem of a national park. According to our findings, most of the students found it very likely for a disturbed ecosystem to fully recover its initial state - mainly due to a ‘recovery process’ or inherent ‘recovery mechanisms’ - showing a strong belief in an extremely resilient ‘Balance of Nature’. Moreover, most of them appeared to believe that if human-protected, an ecosystem will be in a continuous ‘balance’, while very few were skeptical enough to claim a non-predictable future for it.


‘Balance of Nature’ Humans and ‘Balance of Nature’ Students’ reasoning about nature Students’ predictions about ecosystems 



The authors would like to thank very much the students of the ‘Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education’ of the University of Patras, who volunteered to take part in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Sciences & Early Childhood EducationUniversity of PatrasRio-PatrasGreece

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