Improving sixth grade student knowledge of ecology using fish rearing and release as a real-world context

Erich Ziegler



This research project measured the effects of real-world content in a science classroom by determining change (deep knowledge of life science content, including ecosystems from MDE – Grade Level Content Expectations) in a subset of students (6th Grade Science) that may result from the addition of curriculum (real-world content of rearing trout in the classroom). Data showed large gains from the pre-test to post-test in students from both the experimental and control groups. The ecology unit with the implementation of real-world content [trout] was even more successful, and improved students’ deep knowledge of ecosystem content from Michigan’s Department of Education Grade Level Content Expectations. The gains by the experimental group on the constructed response section of the test, which included higher cognitive level items, were significant. Clinical interviews after the post-test confirmed increases in deep knowledge of ecosystem concepts in the experimental group, by revealing that a sample of experimental group students had a better grasp of important ecology concepts as compared to a sample of control group students.