Judith Wiegelmann

Scientific Guest

Current Project


Research Focus

How to teach biodiversity? Designing and evaluating learning environments on biodiversity.

The main objectives of my study are (1) to explore biodiversity scientists' understanding of nature and (2) how they connect their expertise with their emotional attributes of experiencing nature. (3) Based on the results, we are aiming to integrate these expert strategies into learning environments for laymen, in order to develop a fruitful synthesis between the learners' scientific biodiversity concept and their subjective nature experiences.

Links to the main questions of iDiv: The project links to the research area "Biodiversity and Society". It aims to document experts' effective "bilingual" strategies and to integrate them in science education. One of the iDiv key questions is: "How can biodiversity be integrated in the management of our planet's resources and how can we safeguard biodiversity?" Raising the public awareness for the importance of biodiversity is a basic prerequisite for successfully implementing biodiversity conservation policies, and this is what our project ultimately aims at. The project also increases iDiv's engagement with education, which has long been on the research center's agenda.

Background and Methodology

Brief introduction into the subject matter: The loss of biodiversity, or biodiversity crisis, is one of the key problems of our era (Klafki 1993, Pereira et al. 2012, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity 2014). But apparently, engaging young people in biodiversity conservation may take more than scientific definitions of biodiversity or knowledge about endangered species (Novacek 2008, Murr & Retzlaff-Fürst 2015). At the same time, environmental education research often emphasizes the role of emotions in regards to taking action in the field of biodiversity conservation. Aesthetic approaches and within positive emotions can provide a first opportunity to promote the awareness of biodiversity (Queren 2014).

The knowledge gap: Research in biodiversity education has indicated, that laypersons are unfamiliar with the scientific meaning of biodiversity. In these studies, scientific knowledge is applied as the only measure to describe this lack of understanding (Arbuthnott & Devoe 2013). In contrast, other authors have documented that laypersons have a plenitude of mental constructs of biodiversity. But they refer to their outdoor-experiences and emotions towards nature, rather than to scientific definitions (Fischer & Young 2007, Buijs et al. 2008). Therefore, the underlying assumption of this study is that in order to teach and to conserve biodiversity effectively; both the learners' subjective nature experiences and their scientific understanding have to be connected. Furthermore, assuming that experts in biodiversity research are generally able to link their professional knowledge to their personal relation to nature, these experts' effective strategies might serve as a model for the laymen.

Methods: moderated group discussions with biodiversity scientists (data sampling), Grounded Theory Methodology (qualitative data analysis).

Short CV


19. August 1985 born in Sonneberg

University Studies

2009-2011 Master of Education (subjects Biology and Physical Education) at University of Leipzig

2006-2009 Bachelor of Arts (subjects Biology and Physical Education) at University of Leipzig

University Career

Since 11/2016 Doctoral researcher of yDiv (graduate programme)

Since 10/2016 PhD - scholarship of European Social Fund, Working group Biology Education, University of Leipzig

2016-2017 Juniorfellowship in Kolleg Didaktik: digital (funded by Joachim-Herz-Stiftung), Project: "Biodiversity in a digital world - Creating experience with local biodiversity by using digital media"

2016-2017 Training for multipliers for biodiversity education in botanic gardens

2014-2016 Research assistant at the Institute for Biology, Biology Education

2013-2014 Graduate assistant at the Institute of Clinical Children and Youth Psychiatry (Project: AMIS)

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Institute for Biology
Biology Education
Johannisallee 21–23
04103 Leipzig

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+49 341 97366642
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Leipzig University

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