Connecting ecology to daily life: how students and teachers relate food webs to the food they eat

Yael Wyner, Erica Blatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study used sociocultural learning theory to better understand how middle and high school environmental science and biology students and pre- and in-service science teachers connect the daily life activity of eating to the food web model learned in school. We sought to understand how student and teacher perceptions of the environment and their experiences influenced their responses to interview questions regarding this topic. Findings, based on transcribed interviews with 54 study participants, indicate that three quarters of teachers and students were unable to connect the food they eat with ecosystem food webs. Even so, many respondents particularly those from elite public schools, did not demonstrate common food web misconceptions identified by other researchers, instead showing a sophisticated understanding of food web interactions. These findings indicate that even though participants were proficient in their school science understanding of food web interactions, they did not readily think about how their everyday out of school activities, like eating, relate to those interactions. This may be representative of a more general disconnect between formal ecology instruction and daily life activities. We provide several recommendations for how this disconnect can be remedied in our classrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-149
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Biological Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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