Amphibians and reptiles play an important role in ecosystems, usually in the middle of trophic networks, but at the same time they are one of the most endangered groups. Their value seems still to be underestimated by society and is based on many misconceptions and a simple lack of knowledge, which in turn might influence society’s willingness to protect these animals. The authors investigated students’ conceptions about amphibians and reptiles, then designed a teaching sequence in order to trace some possible conceptual changes and to shape pro-environmental attitudes towards amphibians and reptiles.
Students’ conceptions and conceptual change are deeply investigated phenomena, and the results of such studies can be implemented in the didactic process. For this research, amphibians and reptiles were chosen, because they are animals which are significant for ecosystems but at the same time are often confused with each other. The goal of this study was to investigate students’ conceptions about both groups, and on the basis of the results to design a teaching sequence (TS) which could lead to conceptual and attitudinal change. Authors used questionnaires and in-depth interviews to investigate conceptions and the results of the intervention. The significant correlations show that students tend to classify animals as amphibians or reptiles according to their skin and their living environment. Students’ conceptions about animals indicate a tendency of being focused on purposefulness towards environment and evolution, and therefore can be considered an essentialist approach. The alternative conceptions did not change much after intervention, and results did not differ between age or gender groups. On the other hand, conceptions after intervention were more developed, and students asked more diverse questions about evolution and environmental protection, indicating their growing interest in these animals and attitudinal change.