An Investigation of Secondary School Students’ Biodiversity Literacy Level

  • Hülya Aslan Efe Dicle University, Turkey
  • Rıfat Efe Dicle University, Turkey
Keywords: biodiversity literacy, environmental issues, science education, secondary school students


The quality of life sustained by human beings is largely possible thanks to the opportunities offered by the biodiversity resources in nature. It is widely accepted that the continuation of this lifestyle largely depends on the sustainable use of consumed and destroyed natural resources. Therefore, teaching biodiversity becomes an important element of science teaching. In this context, it is important to reveal the biodiversity literacy levels of the new generation. This study aims to investigate secondary school students’ biodiversity literacy levels. The descriptive survey method, one of the quantitative research methods, was used in the research. A total of 787 secondary school students studying at state schools during 2021-2022 academic year participated in the research.  “Biodiversity Literacy Assessment Instrument” was used as a data collection tool in the study. Independent t-test was used to compare gender scores while one-way ANOVA was used to compare student scores based on their grades, students’ feelings about studying biodiversity, and understanding problems related to biodiversity. Tukey HSD test was used to determine the direction of significance in multiple comparisons. The findings revealed that while secondary school students’ scores for attitudes toward biodiversity were high, their biodiversity knowledge levels were low. Also, female students gained higher scores for “the conservation and importance of biodiversity”, “ethics and biodiversity” and “sustainability and biodiversity” sub-dimensions of biodiversity literacy scale in comparison to male students.  Additionally, the study found that participant students’ biodiversity literacy scale scores differed based on students’ years of study. The study has implications for teaching biodiversity that include activities to help students take responsibility for the protection of biodiversity and the place of biodiversity in the national curriculum.


Akkaya, M. M. & Benzer, S. (2019). Comparison of the views of science and primary school teacher candidates on the subject of biodiversity. Şahin, H. &Avcı-Akbay, B.,(Eds)., Academic Researches in Educational Sciences. ISBN 978-9940-540-74-6, Ivpe publishing.1-16.
Barker, S., & Elliot, P. (2000). Planning a skills-based resource for biodiversity education. Journal of Biological Education, 34(3), 123–27.
Bastı, K. , Doğan, N. , Bahar, M. & Nartgün, Z. (2016). Investigation of primary school 4th, 5th and 6th grade students' awareness of biodiversity according to various variables: The case of Bolu province. Journal of Abant İzzet Baysal Üniversitesi Education Faculty, 11(2), 239-256,
Bermudez & Lindemann-Matiz (2020). “What matters is species richness”—High school students’ understanding of the components of biodiversity, Research in Science Education, 50:2159–2187
Brämer, Rainer (2008): Grün tut uns gut. Daten und fakten zur renaturierung des hightech-menschen. Natur subjektiv studien zur natur-beziehung in der hightech-welt. Retrieved May 1, 2022 from gruentutgut1258032289.pdf
Buijs, A.E., Fischer, A., Rink, D. & Young, J.C., (2008). Looking beyond superficial knowledge gaps: Understanding public representations of biodiversity. Int. J. Biodivers. Sci. Manag. 4(2), 65–80.
Brummitt, N. A., Bachman, S. P., Griffiths-Lee, J., Lutz, M., Moat, J. F., Farjon, A., … Nic Lughadha, E.M. (2015). Green plants in the red: A baseline global assessment for the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for plants. PLOS ONE 10:e0135152.
Cardinale, B.J., Duffy, J.E., Gonzalez, A., Hooper, D.U., Perrings, C., Venail, P., et al. (2012). Biodiversity loss and its impact on humanity. Nature, 486, 59-67.
Chandrasekar, S., Sundaravadivelan, C. and Selvan, A. (2012). Awareness on biodiversity among higher secondary students in Vilathikulam area. International Journal of Physical and Social Sciences, 2(9), 305-313.
Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2018). Research Methods in Education (8th ed.). London: Routledge
Convention on Biological Diversity (2010). Global Biodiversity Outlook 2. Retrieved Janruary 3, 2022, from
Davidson, D. & Freudenberg ,W. (1996). Gender and environmental risk concerns: A Review of available research. Environment and Behavior, 28, 302–339.
Demirayak, F. (2002). Biodiversity-nature conservation and sustainable development. TUBITAK VİZYON 2023., 1-30. Retrieved March 12,2022 from
Derman, M., Çakmak, M. & Gürbüz, H. (2012). Investigation of pre-service teachers’ biodiversity literacy, International Journal of Social Science, 5(7), 279-289.
Dervişoğlu, S. (2007). Pre-Learning conditions for education biodiversity conservation. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, Hacettepe University, Institute of Science, Ankara.
Dervişoğlu, S. & Kılıç, D.S. (2013). Young people’s value orientation and preferences of nature. Journal of Research in Education and Teaching, 2(1), 92-99
Drissner, J., Haase, H. Martin, Nikolajek, M., & Hille, K., (2011). Environmental education in a 'green classroom'. Resonance.180-187.
Ergazaki, M., & Ampatzidis, G. (2012). Students’ Reasoning about the future of disturbed or protected ecosystems & The idea of the ‘balance of nature’. Research in Science Education, 42, 511–530.
European Commission (2013). Attitudes toward biodiversity. flash eurobarometer 379- TNS Political & Social. Retrieved April 13, 2022 from
European Commission (2020). Biodiversity strategy for 2030. Retrieved May 22,2022 from
Fiebelkorn,F., Menzel, S.(2013). Student teachers' understanding of the terminology, distribution, and loss of biodiversity: perspectives from a biodiversity hotspot and an industrialized country. Res. Sci. Educ., 43(4), 1593–1615.
Hailikari T, Nevgi A. & Lindblom-Ylänne S. (2007). Exploring alternative ways of assessing prior knowledge, its components and their relation to student achievement: a mathematics-based case study. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 33(4), 320–337.
Hooykaas, M.J.D., Schilthuizena, M., Aten, C., Hemelaar, E., Albers, C., Smeets, I. (2019). Identification skills in biodiversity professionals and lay people: A gap in species literacy. Biological Conservation, 238, 108-202.
Hooykaas, M.J.D., Aten, C., Hemelaar, E., Albers, C., Schilthuizena, M., Smeets, I. (2021). Children’s species literacy as estimated and desired by biodiversity communicators: A mismatch with the actual level, bioRxiv. Retrived from
Humphreys, A. M., Govaerts, R., Ficinski, S. Z., Nic Lughadha, E., & Vorontsova, M. S. (2019). Global dataset shows geography and life form predict modern plant extinction and rediscovery. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 3,1043-1047.
Huxham , M. Welsh, A, Berry, A. & Templeton, S. (2006). Factors influencing primary school children's knowledge of wildlife, Journal of Biological Education, 41(1), 9-12.
Hsu, S. J. (2004). The effects of an environmental education program on responsible environmental behavior and associated environmental literacy variables in Taiwanese college students. The Journal of Environmental Education, 35(2), 37-48.
IUCN. (2001). IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. ii + 30 pp.
IUCN (2020). IUCN Red List 2017–2020 Report. Retrieved May 2, 2021, from
Jalil, N.J. & Sharif, Z.M. (2018). Factors affecting the awareness of biodiversity conservation among students in Malaysia private university. International Journal of Engineering & Technology, 7(4.35), 791-795.
Grace, M. & Ratcliffe, M. (2002). The science and values that young people draw upon to make decisions about biological conservation issues. International Journal of Science Education, 24, 1157-1169.
Güleşir, T., Uzel, N. & Gül, A. (2020). Comparison of biodiversity literacy levels of pre-service teachers, Zahal, O., (Eds.) Academic Studies in Educational Science-II, Gece Publishing.
Kaşıkçı, D.N., Çağıltay, K., Karakuş, T., Kurşun, E.& Ogan, C. (2014). Internet habits and safe internet use of children in Turkey and Europe. Education and Science, 39, 230-243.
Kılınç, A., Yeşiltas¸, N. K., Kartal, T., Demiral, U., & Eroğlu, B. (2013). School students’ conceptions about biodiversity loss: Definitions, reasons, results and solutions. Research in Science Education, 43, 1–31.
Korhonen, K., & Lappalainen, A. (2004). Examining the environmental awareness of children and adolescents in the Ranomafana region Madagascar. Environmental Education Research. 10 (2), 195-216.
Köksal, E.A. & Gebelek, Z. (2019). Knowledge and perceptions of seventh grade students about plant and animal species, Eurasscience Journals, 7(2), 1-13.
Leakey R.R.B. (1996). Definition of agroforestry revisited. Agroforestry Today 8(1), 5–6
Lindemann-Matthies, P. & Bose, E. (2008). How many species are there? Public understanding and awareness of biodiversity in Switzerland. Hum. Ecol., 36, 731–742.
Menzel, S., & Bogeholz, S. (2009). The loss of biodiversity as a challenge for sustainable development: How do pupils in Chile and Germany perceive resource dilemmas? Research on Science education, 39, 429-447.
Menzel, S.& Bogeholz, S. (2010). Values, beliefs and norms that foster Chilean and German pupils' commitment to protect biodiversity. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 5, 31-49.
Moss, A., Jensen, E., & Gusset, M. (2014). A global evaluation of biodiversity literacy in zoo and aquarium visitor. Gland: word association of zoos and aquariums executive office.
MoNE (2018). Science teaching curriculum. National Ministry of Education Retrieved March 19, 2022 from
National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2007). Retrieved January 4,2021 from
Nisiforou, O., & Charalambides, A. G. (2012). Assessing undergraduate university students’ level of knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards biodiversity: A case study in Cyprus. International Journal of Science Education, 34, 1027–1051.
Nunez, M.B. & Clorez, M.A. (2017). Environmental literacy of k–10 student completers, International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 12(5), 1195-1215
OECD (2012). Oecd environmental outlook to 2050: The consequences of inaction Retrieved May 18,2021 from
Özbaş, S. (2016). High school students’ knowledge and attitudes related to biological diversity, Hitit University Journal of Social Sciences Institute, 9(2), 793-808
Özdemir, A. M. (2020). Investigation of primary school candidates’ views on biodiversity, International Journal of Eurasian Education and Culture, Issue: 10, 1145-1165.
Pedro, S. A. & Pedro, M. V. (2010). Developing sustainable environmental behavior in secondary education students (12-16) analysis of a didactic strategy, Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2, 3568–3574.
Schaal, S., Matt, M., & Grübmeyer, S. (2012). mobile learning and biodiversity - bridging the gap between outdoor and inquiry learning in pre-service science teacher education. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 2327-2333
Schneiderhan-Opel, J. & Bogner, F. (2020). The relation between knowledge acquisition and environmental values within the scope of a biodiversity learning module. Sustainability, 12, 2036, 2-19
Torkar, G., (2016). Young Slovenian learners' knowledge about animal diversity on different continents. Int. J. Biol. Educ. 5 (1), 1–11.
Turan, İ. & Yangın, S. (2014). The possible reasons and alternative understandings of university student teachers in different program about “biodiversity” concept. Electronic Journal of Social Sciences, 13(49), 84-103.
Uç, H. & Gül, A. (2021). Researching the biodiversity attitudes of vocational school students, journal of Anatolian cultural research, 5(3), 212-227.
Van Weelie, D. & Wals, A. (2002) Making biodiversity meaningful through environmental education, International Journal of Science Education, 24(11), 1143-1156.
World Economic Forum (2020). The global risks report 2020. Retrieved April 22, 2021 from
WWF (2020). Living planet report 2020 - Bending the Curve of Biodiversity Loss. Almond, R.E.A., Grooten M. and Petersen, T. (Eds). WWF, Gland, Switzerland.
Yüce, M. & Doğru, M. (2018). Level of plant recognition in immediate vicinity of science teacher candidates, Ihlara Journal of Educational Research, 3(1), 15-35.
How to Cite
Aslan Efe, H., & Efe, R. (2022). An Investigation of Secondary School Students’ Biodiversity Literacy Level. Dinamika Ilmu, 22(2), 393-410.