Conceptual Understandings of Students with Visual Impairments about Biodiversity across Ecosystems

By Margilee Hilson, Sally Hobson, and Tiffany Wild

Preferred Citation

Hilson, M., Hobson, S., & Wild, T. (2016). Conceptual Understandings of Students with Visual Impairments about Biodiversity across Ecosystems. Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research, 6(2). Retrieved from doi:


Researchers have documented the instructional value of conducting summer science camps for blind or visually impaired students (Wild, Hilson, & Farrand, 2013a; Wild, Hilson, & Hobson, 2013b.) In the summer of 2013, shortly after the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were officially released, a week-long summer camp for visually impaired high school-aged students was conducted. The theme of the camp was biodiversity across ecosystems. Inspiration was drawn from A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (National Research Council, 2012) which was the guiding document for composing NGSS. Researchers used semi-structured interviews using the questions provided by the NGSS (NRC, 2012) to understand and describe the conceptual understandings of the concepts presented in the camp before and after instruction. Before instruction students’ conceptual understandings of biodiversity and ecosystems were varied and scientifically incomplete. After instruction students’ conceptual understandings were expanded but still scientifically incomplete; there were more than double the initial number of scientific understandings, but there remained nearly as many scientific fragments as before instruction. While the field-based curriculum used in the study provided for some additional scientific understandings for the students, further instruction on the topics presented in this camp utilizing a variety of pedagogical methods appear to be in order.


3D Printer, tactile graphics, literacy, elementary education

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The Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research is copyright (c) 2016 to the National Federation of the Blind.