07943 - Elements of Ecology

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Primary teacher education (cod. 8540)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student: - will demonstrate that she/he has acquired a good basic knowledge of ecology, of the mechanisms that explain the processes of adaptation of organisms to different environments, the main environmental problems and environmental education – she/he must understand the ecological function of fundamental interactions between populations of species, such as competition and predation, and how these are integrated into the dynamics of the living communities; - must demonstrate the understanding of basic ecosystem processes, such as energy flows and biogeochemical cycles - use the knowledge and skills acquired to identify and plan training activities that can contribute to increase the environmental knowledge of kindergarten and primary school students.

Course contents

The course will be held in the second semester from March 8th to April 21th 2021.

The course will focus on the following topics:

• The biosphere: terrestrial and aquatic biomes

• Response to environmental variations: temperature variations; variations in the availability of water; energy sources; autotrophy; metabolic pathways of photosynthesis; heterotrophy

• Interactions between organisms: Competition; predation and herbivory; parasitism; mutualism and commensalism

• Ecosystems: production; energy flow and trophic networks; availability and nutrient cycle; biogeochemical cycles

• Conservation biology: human activities threaten the biodiversity of the Earth; climate change; pollution; environmental education; conservation approaches; Sustainable Development


Science labs: an interdisciplinary lab and disciplinary labs

(only for students who started their graduate course in/after A. Y. 2016/2017)


(on behalf of the Teaching Board of the Single Cycle Degree of Primary Teacher Education on 06/16/2021)

The unprecedented situation associated to the sanitary emergence prompted some modifications to the well-established plan of laboratories, only for the academic year 2021/2022 and only for scientific laboratories (disciplinary and interdisciplinary). Recall the complicated logistics, some turns of scientific laboratories will take place at the Opificio Golinelli (with no remote attending), while other will be delivered online through Microsoft Teams only.

Specifically, during April/May 2022 there will be 5 disciplinary laboratories (two Chemistry laboratories, two Physics laboratories and one Biology laboratory) and 7 interdisciplinary laboratories entirely held at the Opificio Golinelli (with no remote attending). Moreover, there will be 1 entirely online disciplinary laboratory for each discipline and 1 entirely online interdisciplinary laboratory. During July, there will be 1 entirely online Biology disciplinary laboratory and 1 entirely online interdisciplinary laboratory.

The choice will be up to the single student, who will be allowed to select the desired participation option. This is strictly associated to the laboratory date: it will not be allowed to take part in a laboratory held at the Opificio Golinelli through Microsft Teams, nor will it be allowed to take part in an online laboratory from the Opificio Golinelli. All scientific laboratories are equivalent in both flavors, and the same presence, participation, hand in, and assessment rules will hold. In every applicable date, the student will be admitted to an online laboratory (either disciplinary or interdisciplinary) only providing the positive reply of the AQ commission, which retains the right to reject or approve the request (as explicitly stated on the Website of the graduate course).


Starting from A. Y. 2018/2019, science labs have been revisited and improved, resulting not only in the reorganization of the disciplinary laboratories but also in the realization of interdisciplinary laboratories spanning over Physics, Chemistry, Ecology and Biology.

Given the 360° education required for future primary school teachers, these laboratories were planned to be both interdisciplinary, thus involving the four scientific disciplines, and multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary as well: maximum effort will be put into highlighting links with non-scientific knowledge, in order to clarify that there is no dichotomy between sciences and humanities.

The main goals of this rearrangement of the scientific education of teachers are to:

• stimulate curiosity towards scientific themes;

• highlight the ethic and social impact of science and technology;

• communicate the importance of delivering a scientific education starting from the lowest school levels;

• provide conceptual and practical tools mandatory to plan and carry out science-based activities with pupils.

Science labs focused on single disciplines are activated as well, after being improved following aforementioned goals and rationales.

The interdisciplinary laboratory deals with a topic underpinning all the scientific disciplines involved in the master degree with the aim of showing that the same issue can be investigated under different frameworks, each related to a different discipline, and how we can obtain “a big picture” of a given issue by integrating all the different aspects. Disciplinary laboratories, dealing with Physics, Chemistry, Ecology, and Biology, are strictly interconnected with lectures: these classes have the specific purpose of “putting into practice, showing, and touching” some of the course’s topics.

Students will be divided into small work teams and will carry out simple experiments. The lab teacher will conduct also the discussion of results. Suitable experiments have been laid down so that they can be easily reproduced at pre-primary and primary schools.

The following disciplinary laboratories have been planned:

“Light and colour”

“Touching DNA”

“Light and sight”

On the other hand, the planned interdisciplinary laboratory is:

Not just HtwoO: The unexpected features of water

Students must follow two laboratories: the interdisciplinary laboratory and one of the disciplinary laboratories of their choice. The scheduling will be communicated before the beginning of the course.

Each laboratory provides 1 CFU, meaning 8 presence hours and 17 homework hours. In fact, laboratories involve not only the active participation of students but also a “final product”. After the completion of the laboratory experiences, where some disciplinary aspects are investigated and some strategies for stimulating scientific knowledge are proposed, the planning of a didactic activity is requested (which might be useful during school trainings as well).

Students will be graded by lab teachers with -1, 0, or +1 (on a 30 scale). The grade obtained in one of the disciplinary laboratories will add to the final score of the Physics course, while the grade obtained in the interdisciplinary laboratory will add to the final score of the integrated Chemistry and Ecology course. These grades will be available up to the completion of the grading procedure. You cannot register for any disciplinary exam (Elements of General Biology, Elements of Chemistry and Ecology, Elements of Physics) unless you have attended both a disciplinary laboratory and an interdisciplinary laboratory.


Ecologia di Michael L. Cain, William D. Bowman, Sally D. Hacker. Pubblicato da Piccin Nuova Libraria S.p.A., 2017

Elementi di Ecologia di Thomas M. Smith, Robert L. Smith. Pubblicato da Pearson, 2017

Teaching methods

The course will be developed through frontal lessons and the discussion of main topics, design of teaching units inherent concerning the themes addressed in the course, preparation of the science practices.

Assessment methods

Final score based on ../30 (18/30 is considered the minimum to pass the exam).

The students are required to complete the online registration (ALMAESAMI) within the terms in order to be admitted to the exam. In case of technical problems the students have to promptly contact the Segreteria Studenti. The teachers will consider the request and decide about the admission.

These indications apply even for non-attending students.

The students can take the exam at each exam session.

ERASMUS INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: written product replacing laboratories

The final exam, as well as the course contests, are the same for Erasmus students and non-Erasmus students. Due to several reasons, however, Erasmus International Students are not requested to take part to the transversal laboratory and to a disciplinary laboratory in order to take the Elements of Biology exam. Conversely, those Erasmus International Students who inserted Elements of Chemistry and Ecology and/or Elements of Physics and Teaching Physics in their study plan will hand in a written series of experimental classes focusing on water, which will replace the laboratories.

The series of experimental classes will target pre-primary or primary school and will have the properties and peculiarities of water as an aim, under different point of view. The proposed activities will be thoroughly described in terms of materials, methods, timing, and so on; we also ask to state learning goals clearly. A written text must be handed in at least 10 days before the examination day and will be assessed by Elements of Chemistry and Ecology and Elements of Physics and Teaching Physics colleagues.

The assessment will affect examination’s assessment, by adding or subtracting a point (or by leaving it unaffected): this will be carried out both for Elements of Chemistry and Ecology and Elements of Physics and Teaching Physics, if the Erasmus International Students participates to both courses; this will be carried out for a single course, if the Erasmus International Student participates to a single course. In case the written text is not handed in, a point will be substracted by the relevant exam grade.

Teaching tools

Handout and lecture notes will be available through Power point presentations.

For questions, clarifications, information relative to the course and to fix an appointment feel free to contact me at: arianna.mancuso2@unibo.it

Office hours

See the website of Arianna Mancuso


Sustainable cities Climate Action Oceans Life on land

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.