Tracking invasive birds: A programme for implementing dynamic open inquiry learning and conservation education

Michal Zion, Ornit Spektor-Levy, Yotam Orchan, Assaf Shwartz, Irit Sadeh, Salit Kark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Among potential topics in the new science of biodiversity, understanding the characteristics and impact of invasive birds is an attractive subject to include as part of junior high school biology studies. Birds are aesthetic and raise curiosity. Curiosity about birds, combined with field observations, can stimulate students to ask authentic questions. As birds are among the few wild vertebrates that one can easily observe, students can easily develop systematic methods to answer their questions and initiate a dynamic open inquiry process. The educational project 'Tracking Invasive Birds', presented here as a case study, is the result of a unique collaboration among conservation biologists, science educators and biology teachers. High school students participated in an open inquiry process facilitated by teachers, ecologists, and science educators. At the end of the inquiry process, these high school students conducted a bird watching tour for junior high school students. This paper shows how investigating a conservation environmental issue - invasive birds - contributes to the development of both dynamic open inquiry skills and environmental literacy among 11th- and 12th-grade students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-12
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Education
Issue number1
Early online date10 May 2011
StatePublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology for providing a grant to support this innovative collaboration between ecologists and educational research groups. We thank the Yarkon Park management and staff who assisted us in conducting this study, and we wish to thank Bruria Agrest and Ruth Mendelovici for their fruitful cooperation.

Funding Information:
As part of the requirements of their practical biology studies and matriculation exam, 11th-and 12th-grade (16–18 years of age) students participated in an open inquiry process. Students accompanied an ecology research team from the Hebrew University in the study of invasive species in the Yarkon Park. This ecology research team guided the students from the important early stages of phrasing inquiry questions, and forming hypotheses and predictions, through decisions about methodology, approaches to data collection, and the final stage of drawing conclusions. In addition, the students’ classroom biology teachers facilitated the inquiry process by guiding the students to conform to the requirements established by the Israeli Ministry of Education. An academic research team from the Science Education Center at Bar-Ilan University assisted the teachers and students in coping with pedagogical difficulties. Students presented their findings in the form of a scientific paper. Thus, the students were supported directly by academic research students and by their science teachers. Further scaffolding was provided by senior science researchers and senior science education researchers. These two ‘layers’ of scaffolding were supported by the Israel Ministry of Education. Figure 1 portrays the educational model developed from the perspective of the supportive array of services available to assist the students.


  • Biodiversity
  • Bird invasion
  • Ecology
  • Environmental literacy
  • Open inquiry


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