ArticlePDF Available


The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly disrupted academic activities, particularly in disciplines with a strong empirical component among other reasons by limiting our mobility. It is thus essential to assess emergency remote teaching plans by surveying learners’ opinions and perceptions during these unusual circumstances. To achieve this aim, we conducted a survey during the spring semester of 2021 in an environmental science program to ascertain learners’ perceptions on online and onsite learning activities in ecology-based modules. We were particularly interested not only in comparing the performance of these two types of activities but also in understanding the role played by learners’ perceptions about nature in shaping this pattern. Environmental science programs are rather heterogeneous from a conceptual point of view and, thus, learners may also be more diverse than in traditional ecology programs, which may affect their interest for ecology-based modules. We assessed connectedness to nature by computing the reduced version of the Nature Relatedness Scale. Here, we found that online activities systematically obtained significantly lower scores than onsite activities regardless of the wording employed, and that altruistic behaviors were prevalent among learners. Interestingly, scores for both onsite and online activities were strongly influenced by learners’ connectedness to nature, as learners with a stronger connection to nature gave higher scores to both types of activities. Our results suggest that an effort to improve the efficacy of remote learning activities should be the focus of research about teaching methodologies in predominantly empirical scientific disciplines.
Ecology and Evolution. 2022;12:e8659.    
1 of 8
We are living interesting times. The COVID- 19 pandemic is repre-
senting a huge challenge for learning and teaching, not only by limit-
ing our mobility (Flaxman et al., 2020), but also by reducing available
resources for education and disrupting the normal functioning of
educational institutions (Daniel, 2020). This is particularly evident
in disciplines with a strong empirical component, such as ecology.
Traditionally, ecology is learnt discussing key concepts in the class-
room and acquiring practical skills in the field and the lab. In such
  Revised:3F ebruar y2022 
  Accepted :7Februa ry2022
DOI: 10.1002/ece3.8659
Undergraduates' perceptions on emergency remote learning in
ecology in the post- pandemic era
Emilio Pagani- Núñez | Mingxiao Yan | Yixuan Hong | Yu Zeng | Sihao Chen |
Peng Zhao | Yi Zou
Thisisanop enaccessar ticleunderthetermsoftheCreativeCommonsAttributionLicense,whic hpermitsu se,distributionandreproduct ioninanymedium,
provided the original work is properly cited.
©2022TheAuthors.Eco logy and Evolut ionpublishedbyJohnWiley&SonsLtd.
Department of Health and Environmental
Science s,Xi’anJiaotong-Liverpool
University, Suzhou, China
Emilio Pagani- Núñez, Department of
Health and Environmental Sciences, Xi’an
Jiaotong- LiverpoolUniversity,111Ren'ai
Road, Suzhou Industrial Park, Suzhou,
Jiangsu Province, 215123, China.
Funding information
XJTLU ’sgrantnumberTDF19/20-R20-131
funded this study
The COVID- 19 pandemic has strongly disrupted academic activities, particularly in
disciplines with a strong empirical component among other reasons by limiting our
mobility. It is thus essential to assess emergency remote teaching plans by surveying
learners’ opinions and perceptions during these unusual circumstances. To achieve
this aim, we conducted a survey during the spring semester of 2021 in an environ-
mental science program to ascertain learners’ perceptions on online and onsite learn-
ing activities in ecology- based modules. We were particularly interested not only in
comparing the performance of these two types of activities but also in understand-
ing the role played by learners’ perceptions about nature in shaping this pattern.
Environmental science programs are rather heterogeneous from a conceptual point
of view and, thus, learners may also be more diverse than in traditional ecology pro-
grams, which may affect their interest for ecology- based modules. We assessed con-
nectedness to nature by computing the reduced version of the Nature Relatedness
Scale. Here, we found that online activities systematically obtained significantly lower
scores than onsite activities regardless of the wording employed, and that altruistic
behaviors were prevalent among learners. Interestingly, scores for both onsite and
online activities were strongly influenced by learners’ connectedness to nature, as
learners with a stronger connection to nature gave higher scores to both types of ac-
tivities. Our results suggest that an effort to improve the efficacy of remote learning
activities should be the focus of research about teaching methodologies in predomi-
nantly empirical scientific disciplines.
ecology, online learning, questionnaire, remote learning, teaching methods
2 of 8 
disciplines, a conflict between concept- based lecturing and empir-
ical skill acquisitionis often apparent (Caulton,1970; Openshaw &
Whittle, 1993). It is necessary to reflect on our practice to ascer-
tain to what extent these two curricular aspects, that is, concepts
and skills, and the means to deliver them, are connected efficiently
in teaching curriculums. The need to develop contingency remote
teaching plans has elicited careful consideration of suitable online
teaching tools foremergencycontex ts(Adedoyin &Soykan,2020;
Bozkurt et al., 2020; Hodges et al., 2020; Rapanta, 2020). This might
be seen as an opportunity not only for ecological research (Rutz
et al., 2020), but to review these approaches to learning in ecology
and other disciplines with a strong empirical component (Bacon &
Peacock, 2021).
In his seminal work, Gibbs emphasized the importance of “learn-
ing by doing” (Gibbs, 1988). A way to connect more efficiently
concepts and skills would be to determine how students perceive
online versus onsite learning, empirical versus normative learning
activities, and transcending these disconnected frameworks (Henry,
2009). Alternative asse ssments, which have been object of thor-
ough reflection since long ago (Brown et al., 1994), turn into a cen-
tral element in the current context. Normative teaching frameworks
emphasize activities linked to marking, in which each activity con-
ducted in class is object of evaluation by teachers. Conversely, em-
pirical activities, such as active learning projects (Gahl et al., 2020),
can be disregarded as less efficient in motivating students into ac-
quiring new knowledge without having to pass an exam. Fortunately,
in the current critical context, developing innovative online teaching
and learning approaches, and using any available technologies, has
become a key priority (Gahl et al., 2020; Geange et al., 2020; Houtz
et al., 2020; Richter et al., 2020; Van Haeften et al., 2020).
In this project, we surveyed learners’ perceptions on online and
onsite teaching, assessed the efficacy of these two approaches in
connecting concepts and skills, an d determined how the se patterns
were influenced by connectedness to nature. Moreover, empirical
activities often rely on collaborative or cooperative learning ap-
proaches, which may be perceived as unproductive or superfluous
by learners. We thus assessed learners’ willingness to collect data
that would be later shared with their classmates and potentially
usedfort heirco ur sew ork.A ddi tiona lly,ina dis cipli nes uchase col-
ogy, perceptions on nature may mediate students’ responses to
these diverse learning frameworks. The Nature Relatedness Scale
(NRS) is a standard questionnaire aiming to quantify connected-
ness to nature (Nisbet et al., 2009). By incorporating the NRS into
assessment of learning and teaching approaches, it is possible to
determine how receptive learners are to online or onsite and to
empirical or normative learning strategies according to their de-
gree of connectedness to nature. Moreover, connectedness to
nature is often interpreted as a measure of altruistic behaviors
(Mayer & Frantz, 2004), which may be a key feature of innovative
learning approaches and, thus, we were particularly interested in
assessing the relationships between these two behaviors. We used
the shortened version of the questionnaire designed by Nisbet and
Zelenski (2013).
Here, by enquiring students about their learning experience with
onsite learning and whether the linkage between practical activities
and concepts was sufficiently clear. More specifically, we aimed
toanswerthefollowing researchquestions: (1)Are online and on-
site learning activities well connected to key concepts in ecology?
(2) What is the perception of undergraduates on online and onsite
learning activities? (3) How undergraduates perceived empirical and
altruistic learning activities? (4) Was connectedness to nature (NRS)
an optimal predictor of these perceptions?
2.1  |  Study area and cohort
In this study, we conducted a survey among 49 undergraduate stu-
dents between 19 and 23 years old enrolled in the Environmental
(Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, PR China) during the second semester of
the academic year 2020 2021. Undergraduates were enrolled in dif-
ferentecologymodules,namelyyear-2AquaticFieldSkills(N = 22),
year-3AquaticandUrbanEcology(N = 16) and year- 4 Ecology in a
Changing World (N =11). All un dergrad uates but one f rom South
Korea were Chinese nationals. We obtained ethics approval from
Development Unit (EDU) and informed consent from the undergrad-
uates before conductingthesurvey.AcrossMarchandearlyApril,
undergrads were engaged in different types of online and onsite
activities, such as terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity monitoring,
checking nest boxes, and observing recordings of animal behavior.
They also experienced a f ully online learn ing mode during the s econd
semester of the previous academic year, so that all undergraduates
were able to express informed opinions about both types of learn-
ing approaches. Most of these field activities were instrumental for
undergraduates to complete their coursework, yet other activities
represented an altruistic contribution to the class— any undergradu-
ate was able to make use of the collected data.
2.2  |  The questionnaire
We conducted a survey on three main thematic areas: perceptions
on online versus onsite teaching, the connection between con-
cepts and practical activities of these two types of activities, and
2015). There was some overlap between these questions’ themes.
We enquired undergraduates about to what extent they enjoyed
and, additionally, to what extent these activities seemed connected
to concepts and theories (Q01– Q02 and Q11Q14). Furthermore,
we asked undergraduates on their perceptions on normative and
  3 of 8
non- normative activities, namely about altruistic and non- altruistic
data collection (Q15– Q16). These questions were presented in pairs
responses. Finally, we included the shortened version of the NRS
questionnaire (NR- 6) (Nisbet & Zelenski, 2013), which consists of six
questions (NR- 6), to assess how connectedness to nature interacted
with perceptions on learning approaches and altruistic behaviors
(Q03– Q08). We relied on the NRS questionnaire because we were
enquiring young adults performing a high intensity program (Salazar
et al., 2020).
2.3  |  Statistical analysis
All analy ses were conduc ted in R software ( R Core Team, 2021).
First, we assessed the internal consistency of the questionnaire
bycomputing Cronbach'salphausingthe packageltm (Rizopoulos,
2006). Since several questions enquired learners about similar con-
cepts, Cronbach'salphascore was areliableapproach toassessits
consistency (Tavakol & Dennick, 2011). The questionnaire obtained
of the test were relatively consistent.
Second, we compared the scores between the different pairs of
questions (Q01 vs. Q02, Q09 vs. Q10, Q11 vs. Q12, Q13 vs. Q14,
Q15vs.Q16,Q17vs.Q18,andQ19vs.Q20).Wedids obyperform-
ing pair wise t- tests , a standard rep eated- measu res approach, so e ach
pair of answers is compared for each interviewee. We computed the
average for questions about online and onsite learning separately
and performed a pairwise t- test to see if any patterns were consis-
tent when considering all the questions together. Connectedness to
nature (NRS) was calculated as the average of the NR- 6 questions for
each interviewee on the assumption that higher scores would imply
stronger connectedness to nature and vice versa.
Third, we co mputed a linea r mixed-effec ts (LME) m odel fitte d
with restricted maximum likelihood using the average from ques-
tions about online learning as dependent variable and the average
from the NR- 6 questionnaire as independent variable. We repeated
this procedure alternatively using the average from questions about
onsite learning and the scores of questions Q15 and Q16 about al-
truistic behaviors as dependent variables. We included module (i.e.,
classgroup)asrandomfactor.LMEmodels wereconstructedusing
the package nlme(Pinheiroetal.,2007).
In all pairs of questions, undergraduates gave higher scores to onsite
than to online learning (Table 1, Figures 1 and 2). More specifically,
undergraduates consistently gave higher scores to the idea that
ecology has a strong empirical component rather than being a disci-
pline that can simply be learnt through textbooks (Table 1, Figures
1a and 2a) and to the idea that onsite activities were more enjoy-
able than online activities (Table 1, Figures 1b and 2b). Similarly,
undergraduates were more in agreement with the idea that they
had learnt more practical skills during onsite than online activities
(Table 1, Figures 1c and 2c), and to the idea that onsite activities
were better linked to the topics covered in the modules than online
activities (Table 1, Figures 1d and 2d).
Furthermore, undergraduates were keen to share collected data
with other undergraduates (Table 1, Figures 1e and 2e) and showed
higher agreement with the idea that they would like to spend more
time cond ucting onsite ac tivities ra ther than onlin e activities ( Table 1 ,
Figures 1f and 2f). They also were more in agreement with the idea
that ecology is mainly about understanding the world around us than
questions about onsite learning obtained higher scores on average
than questions about online learning (Table 1, Figures 1h and 2h).
Finally, undergraduates’ NR- 6 average scores correlated pos-
itively with average scores of questions about onsite learning
(β ± SE = 0.30 ± 0.13, t3,45 = 2.24, p = .03), and with average scores
of questions about online learning (β ± SE = 0.85 ± 0.12, t3,45 =7.09,
p < .01) (Figure 3a). Conversely, for questions regarding altruistic be-
haviors, we did not record significant relationships between NR- 6 and
these questions’ scores (altruistic: β ± SE = 0.21 ± 0.19, t3,45 = 1.11,
p =.27;non-altruistic:β ± SE =−0.32± 0.22, t3,45 =−1.43, p = .16)
(Figure 3b).
The current pandemic has strongly disrupted academic activi-
ties (Bacon & Peacock, 2021), particularly in developing countries
to deal with this situation. However, crises might also represent op-
portunities to improve our educational systems. For instance, out
teaching practice can be improved by assessing to what extent dif-
ferent types of onsite and online learning activities are efficiently
TABLE 1 Resultsfrompairwiset-testsassessingdif ferencesin
the scores given by individual learners to pair of questions about
their perceptions on online and onsite learning (N = 49). Q01, Q09,
Q02, Q10, Q12, Q14, and Q18 enquired learners about onsite
activities. Yet, in an attempt to avoid stereotyped responses, Q19
was about onsite and Q20 about online learning. Q15 and Q16
characterized altruistic behaviors. Online and onsite categories
t- va lue p
Q01 vs. Q02 6.47 <.01
Q09 vs. Q10 11.09 <.01
Q11 vs. Q12 7. 94 <.01
Q13 vs. Q14 4.13 <.01
Q15 vs. Q16 9. 05 <.01
Q17vs.Q18 8.32 <.01
Q19 vs. Q20 −5. 51 <.01
Online vs. onsite −10 .2 2 <.01
4 of 8 
FIGURE 1 Differencesinquestionnaire
scores between pairs of related questions
learners about online activities, while
Q02, Q10, Q12, Q14, and Q18 enquired
learners about onsite activities. Q19
was about onsite and Q20 about online
learning. Q15 and Q16 characterized
altruistic behaviors. Online and onsite
categories represent the averages of
each type of questions. Thick horizontals
represent average scores, thin lines
and vertical lines represent standard
deviations, while red lines connect
answers of each interviewee
FIGURE 2 Histogramsshowing
score distribution for each pair of
a question list). Q01, Q09, Q11, Q13,
activities, while Q02, Q10, Q12, Q14,
and Q18 enquired learners about onsite
activities. Q19 was about onsite and
Q20 about online learning. Q15 and Q16
characterized altruistic behaviors. Online
and onsite categories represent the
averages of each type of questions. Yellow
color characterized questions about online
learning and blue color characterized
questions about onsite learning. Vertical
lines represent questions’ averages
  5 of 8
connected to key concepts and theories, and to assess the effi-
cacy of these activities as learning and teaching tools (Gibbs, 1988;
Hmelo, 1998; O’Mahony et al., 2012). In this study, we found sup-
port to the idea that undergraduates positively valued the key em-
pirical component of ecology, yet this also represented a challenge
in circumstances in which emergency remote learning must be im-
plemented. Overall, undergraduates gave significantly lower scores
to online than onsite activities. This may simply be a signal of the
expectable frustration produced by the COVID- 19 pandemic on
learners (Dilmaç, 2020), which may also be linked to a strong aware-
2010). Yet, it may also be connected to a deeper issue with online
learning and teaching approaches in strongly empirical disciplines,
such as ecology. Moreover, undergraduates seemed keen to share
collected data with their peers, favoring the establishment of an
open learning environment based on collective efforts, which is in-
creasingly deemed as an efficient teaching and learning approach
(Ruiz- Gallardo & Reavey, 2019).
Interestingly, NR- 6 scores were a good predictor of under-
grads’ perceptions about both onsite and online learning activities.
Previous studies have shown that nature connectedness is a good
predictor of positive attitudes toward scientific issues and out-
dooractivities(Barrable&Lakin, 2020;H.-H. Wanget al.,2020).
However, in our study, students scoring higher in the NR- 6 scale
gave higher scores to questions about both online and onsite
learning, in spite that these questions were to some extent op-
posed to each other. This result suggests that undergraduates
assessed their learning experience mainly based on their interest
on the subject, rather than on the quality of the activity itself.
Still, other studies have shown positive attitudes toward online
learning, which underscores a high diversity of responses to the
current pandemic(Khan etal.,2020). Acknowledgingthatunder-
graduates may have different perceptions on study subjects in
different regions and circumstances could help to enhance their
learning experience.
Finally, NR- 6 was disconnected from undergraduates’ percep-
tions on altruistic behaviors. We recorded very positive attitudes of
undergraduates toward data sharing, yet this seemed to be linked
to personal perceptions and behaviors rather than to the degree of
edness to nature and altruistic behaviors has been found in several
studies(Barrera-Hernándezetal.,2020;Leeet al., 2015;Mayer&
Frantz, 2004). Therefore, our results merit further investigation as
it would be interesting to determine why this relationship is absent
in our sample. National, cross- cultural, differences in connectedness
to nature and altruistic behaviors have previously been reported
(Dornhoff et al., 2019; Johnson et al., 1989). In the particular case
of China, where suppression of COVID- 19 has been successful (Zou
et al., 2020), and a country in which the collective component of
social organization is considered very important (Chen, 2000; Wang
et al., 2002), undergraduates may be particularly keen to share re-
sources regardless of their perceptions on nature.
To conclude, we found that connectedness to nature was a good
predictor of positive attitudes to learning in ecology, regardless of
the form in which learning and teaching was developed. Yet, we
must acknowledge certain limitations of our approach. For instance,
our analysis is based on self- reported data from interviewees, which
may be object to biases that are difficult to minimize. Moreover, we
could have used additional nature connectedness metrics (Restall
& Conrad, 2015), sample size was somewhat limited, and the social
background of our interviewees was rather homogenous. Still, our
results suggest that undergrads showing a stronger connection to
nature were more positive about both empirical and online learning
activities. Thus, promoting positive attitudes toward nature in edu-
cational programs such as ecology or environmental sciences could
be a way to enhance students’ learning experience. In response to
our first research question, onsite activities were better connected
than online activities to key concepts in ecology. In response to our
second research question, undergraduates had more positive atti-
tudes toward onsite than online activities. Regarding our third ques-
tion, undergraduates had very positive attitudes toward data sharing
regardless of their degree of connectedness to nature, which may
facilitate the development of collaborative research projects with
FIGURE 3 (a)Significantlinearrelationships(solidlines)
between average NR- 6 scores per interviewee and the average for
questions about online learning (empty yellow circles) and onsite
learning (blue crosses). The shaded gray area represents 95%
confidence intervals. (b) Non- significant linear relationships (dashed
lines) between average NR- 6 scores per interviewee and the results
for questions Q15 (empty red circles) and Q16 (dark blue crosses)
characterizing the degree of altruism (or lack of it, respectively) of
the interviewees
6 of 8 
a low risk of eliciting conflicts among peers. Finally, regarding the
fourth research question, nature connectedness was an optimal tool
to assess willingness to study ecology independently of the teaching
methods employed, and it was a poor predictor of undergraduates’
altruistic behaviors.
We are very gr ateful to the mem bers of the Educ ational Develop ment
UnitofXi’anJiaotong-LiverpoolUniversity(X JTLU)forinspiringthis
studyandtheundergraduatesofXJTLUfor theircollaboration.We
are also very grateful to an anonymous reviewer who provided con-
structive comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.
The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
Emilio Pagani- Núñez: Conceptualization (lead); Data curation
(equal); Formal analysis (equal); Methodology (equal); Writing –
original draft (lead). Mingxiao Yan: Conceptualization (equal); Data
curation (equal); Formal analysis (equal); Writing – review & edit-
ing (equal). Yixuan Hong: Conceptualization (equal); Data cura-
tion (equal); Formal analysis (equal); Writing – review & editing
(equal). Yu Zeng: Conceptualization (equal); Data curation (equal);
Formal analysis (equal); Writing – review & editing (equal). Sihao
Chen: Conceptualization (equal); Data curation (equal); Formal
analysis (equal); Writing – review & editing (equal). Peng Zhao:
Conceptualization (equal); Data curation (equal); Formal analysis
(equal); Writing – review & editing (equal). Yi Zou: Conceptualization
(equal); Data curation (equal); Formal analysis (equal); Writing – re-
view & editing (equal).
Questionnaire data: Pagani- Núñez, Emilio et al. (2022), Undergraduates’
perceptions on emergency remote learning in ecology in the post-
pandemic era, Dryad, Dataset,
Emilio Pagani- Núñez
Yi Zou
The challenges and opportunities. Interactive Learning Environments,
1– 13. 820.2020.1813180
Adnan, M., & Anwar, K. (2020). Online learning amid the COVID-19
pandemic: Students perspectives. Journal of Pedagogical Sociology
and Psychology, 1(2), 45– 51. JPSP.20202
6130 9
ogy and aligned disciplines during a global pandemic: Reflections
on the rapid move online and perspectives on moving forward.
Ecology a nd Evolution, 11(8), 3551– 3558.
Barrable,A .,& Lakin, L. (2020).Naturerelatednessinstudent teach-
ers, perceived competence and willingness to teach outdoors:
An empir ical stu dy.Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor
Learning, 20 (3), 189–201.
Barrera-Hernández, L. F., Sotelo-Castillo, M. A., Echeverría-C astro,
S. B., & Tapia- Fonllem, C. O. (2020). Connectedness to nature:
Its impact on sustainable behaviors and happiness in chil-
dren. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 276. 389/
Bozkurt, A., Jung, I., Xiao, J., Vladimirschi, V., Schuwer, R., Egorov,
G., Lambert, S. R., Al-Freih, M., Pete, J., Olcott, D., Rodes, V.,
Aranciaga,I.,Alvarez,A .V.,Roberts, J.,Pazurek, A.,Raffaghelli,J.
E.,deCoëtlogon,P.,Shahadu,S .,Brown, M.,…Mano,M.(2020).A
global outlook to the interruption of education due to COVID- 19
Pandemic: Navigating in a time of uncertainty and crisis. Asian
Journal of Distance Education, 15(1), 126.
Brown, S., Rust, C., & Gibbs, G. (1994). Strategies for diversif ying assess-
ment. Oxford Centre for Staff Development.
Caulton, E. (1970). An ecological approach to biology. Journal of
Biological Education, 4(1), 1– 10. 0219
Chen, X . (2000). Growing up in a colle ctivist cultu re: Socialization and so-
U. P. Gielen (Eds.), International perspectives on human development
(pp. 331353). Pabst Science Publishers.
Daniel, S. J. (2020). Education and the COVID- 19 pandemic. Prospects,
49( 1 – 2 ) , 9 1 – 9 6 . h t t p s : / / d o i . o r g / 1 0 . 1 0 0 7 / s 1 1 1 2 5 - 0 2 0 - 0 9 4 6 4 - 3
Dilmaç, S. (2020). Students’ opinions about the distance education to
art and design courses in the pandemic process. World Journal of
Education, 10(3), 113. p113
Dornhoff, M., Sothmann, J.- N., Fiebelkorn, F., & Menzel, S. (2019).
Nature relatedness and environmental concern of young people in
Ecuador and Germany. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 453. https://doi.
Flaxman, S., Mishra, S., Gandy, A., Unwin, H. J. T., Mellan, T. A.,
Coupland, H., Whittaker, C., Zhu, H., Berah, T., Eaton, J. W.,
Monod, M., Imperial College COVID- 19 Response Team, Perez-
Guzman,P.N.,Schmit,N.,Cilloni, L., Ainslie,K.E. C., Baguelin,
M., Boo nyasiri, A ., Boyd, O., … B hatt, S. ( 2020). Es timating t he
effects of non- pharmaceutical interventions on COVID- 19 in
Europe. Nature, 584(7820), 257–261.
s 4 1 5 8 6 - 0 2 0 - 2 4 0 5 - 7
Gahl,M.K., Gale,A .,Kaestner,A.,Yoshina,A .,Paglione,E., &Bergman,
G. (2020). Perspectives on facilitating dynamic ecology courses on-
line using active learning. Ecolog y and Evolution, 11(8),3473–3480.
Geange, S. R., Oppen, J., Strydom, T., Boakye, M., Gauthier, T. J., Gya,
R., Halbritter, A. H ., Jessup, L. H., Middleton, S . L., Navarro, J.,
Pierfederici, M. E., Chacón-L abella, J., Cotner, S., Farfan-Rios,
W., Maitner, B. S., Michaletz, S. T., Telford, R. J., Enquist, B. J., &
Vandvik, V. (2020). Next- generation field courses: Integrating Open
Science and online learning. Ecolog y and Evolution, 11(8), 3577–
3587. .1002/ece3.70 09
Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and lear ning meth-
ods. Further Education Unit.
Henr y,A.D.(2009).Thechallengeoflearningforsustainabilit y:Aprole-
gomenon to theory. Human Ecology Review, 16(2), 131– 1 40.
Hmelo, C. E. (1998). Problem- based learning: Effects on the early
acquisition of cognitive skill in medicine. Journal of the Learning
Sciences, 7(2), 173–208.7809j
Hodges,C., Moore, S., Lockee, B.,Trust,T.,& Bond, A. (2020). Thedif-
ference between emergency remote teaching and online learning.
Educause Review, 12. Retrieved from https://er.educa
  7 of 8
les/2020/3/the- diffe rence - betwe en- emerg ency- remot e- teach ing-
and- onlin e- learning
Houtz , J. L., Mady, R. P., & Uehling, J. J. (2020). A vir tual bird’s eye
view: Li ve streamin g nest boxes to co ntinue outr each in the er a
of COVID- 19. Ecology and Evolution, 11(8), 35593564. https://doi.
Johnson, R. C., Danko, G. P., Darvill, T. J., Bochner, S., Bowers, J. K.,
Huang, Y.-H.,Park,J.Y.,Pecjak,V.,Rahim,A.R.A., &Pennington,
D. (1989). Cross- cultural assessment of altruism and its correlates.
Personality and Individual Differences, 10(8), 855– 868. https://doi.
or g/10.1016/0191- 88 69(89)90 02 1 - 4
Joshi,A.,Kale,S.,Chandel,S.,&Pal,D.(2015).Liker tscale:Exploredand
explained. British Journal of Appl ied Science & Technology, 7(4), 396–
Khan, M. A., Vivek , V., Nabi, M. K., Khojah, M., & Tahir, M. (2020).
Students’ perception towards E- learning during COVID- 19 pan-
demicinIndia:Anempiricalstudy.Sustainability, 13 (1),57.https://10057
to nature and to humanity: Their association and personality cor-
relates. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 111.
Mayer, F. S., & Frantz, C. M. (2004). The connectedness to nature
scale: Ameasureof individuals’feelingincommunitywithnature.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24(4), 503– 515. https://doi.
Nisbet,E. K., & Zelenski,J. M. (2013).TheNR-6: A new brief measure
of nature relatedness. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 1– 11. https://doi.
Nisbet,E. K., Zelenski,J.M., & Murphy, S.A.(2009). The nature relat-
edness scale:Linking individuals’connectionwithnaturetoenvi-
ronmental concern and behavior. Environment and Behavior, 41 (5),
7 1 5 – 7 4 0 . h t t p s : / / d o i . o r g / 1 0 . 1 1 7 7 / 0 0 1 3 9 1 6 5 0 8 3 1 8 7 4 8
O’Mahony,T.K.,Vye,N. J.,Bransford, J.D., Sanders ,E.A.,Stevens,R.,
Acomparison oflecture-based andchallenge-basedlearningina
workplace setting: Course designs, patterns of interactivity, and
learning outcomes. Journal of the Learning Scien ces, 21(1), 182– 206.
htt ps://doi.o rg/10.10 80/105084 06.2011.611775
Openshaw, P. H., & Whittle, S. J. (1993). Ecological field teaching: How
can it be made more effective? Journal of Biological Education, 27(1),
58– 66. 266.1993.9655305
and nonlinear mixed effects models. R Package Version, 3(57),1–89.
R Core Team. (2021). R: A language and environment for statistical comput-
ing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
Rapant a, C., Bot turi, L ., Goodye ar,P., Guàrd ia, L., & Koo le, M. (2020) .
Online university teaching during and after the Covid- 19 crisis.
Refocusing Teacher Presence and Learning Activity, 23, 923– 945.
h t t p s : / / d o i . o r g / 1 0 . 1 0 0 7 / s 4 2 4 3 8 - 0 2 0 - 0 0 1 5 5 - y
Restall, B., & Conrad, E. (2015). A literature review of connected-
ness to nature and its potential for environmental management.
Journal of Environmental Management, 159, 264–278. https://doi.
org/10.1016/j.jenvm an.2015.05.022
Richter,C.F.,Lortie,C.J.,Kelly,T.L.,Filazzola,A.,Nunes,K .A.,&Sarkar,
R. (2020 ). Online but not rem ote: Adapting field-based ecol ogy
laboratories for online learning. Ecolog y and Evolution, 11(8), 3616–
Rizopoulos,D.(2006).ltm:AnR package for latent variable modeling and
item response theory analyses. Journal of Statistical Software, 17(5),
Ruiz-Gallardo, J.-R., &Reavey,D. (2019).Learning science conceptsby
teachingpeers inacooperativeenvironment:A longitudinalstudy
of preservice teachers. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 28 (1),73–
107. 80/1050 8406.2 018.1506988
Rutz, C ., Loretto, M.- C., B ates, A. E., Dav idson, S. C., D uarte, C. M. ,
Jetz, W., Jo hnson, M. , Kato, A., K ays, R., Mu eller, T.,P rimack, R .
B., Ropert-Coudert, Y.,Tucker,M.A .,Wikelski, M.,&Cagnacci,F.
(2020). COVID- 19 lockdown allows researchers to quantify the ef-
fects of human activity on wildlife. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 4(9),
1 1 5 6 – 1 1 5 9 .  h t t p s : / / d o i . o r g / 1 0 . 1 0 3 8 / s 4 1 5 5 9 - 0 2 0 - 1 2 3 7 - z
Salazar, G., Kunkle, K., & Monroe, M. (2020). Practitioner guide to assess-
ing connection to nature.NAAEE.
Tavakol, M., & Dennick, R. (2011). Making sense of Cronbach’s alpha.
International Journal of Medical Education, 2, 53– 55. https://doi.
Van, D., McLaws, M.-L., Crimmins, J., MacIntyre, C . R., & Seale,
H. (2010). University life and pandemic influenza: Attitudes
and intended behaviour of staff and students towards pan-
demic (H1N1) 2009. BMC Public Health, 10(1), 130. https://doi.
o r g / 1 0 . 1 1 8 6 / 1 4 7 1 - 2 4 5 8 - 1 0 - 1 3 0
VanHaeften,S.,Milic ,A.,Addison-Smith,B.,Butcher,C.,&Davies,J.M.
(2020). Grass Gazers: Using citizen science as a tool to facilitate
practical and online science learning for secondary school students
during the COVID- 19 lockdown. Eco logy and Evolution, 11(8), 3488–
Wang,H.-H.,Hong,Z.-R .,Lin,H., &Tsai,C .-Y.(2020).The relationships
among adult sustainability attitudes, psychological well- being, na-
ture rela tedness, and in terest in scient ific issues. Cur rent Psychology,
1 – 1 2 .  h t t p s : / / d o i . o r g / 1 0 . 1 0 0 7 / s 1 2 1 4 4 - 0 2 0 - 0 0 7 0 8 - 1
Wang,L .,Bi sho p,J.W.,Ch en, X.,&DowScot t,K.(2002).Collectivistor i-
entationas apredictorofaffective organizationalcommitment :A
study co nducted in Chin a. The International Journal of Organizational
Analysis, 10 (3), 226– 239.
Zou, Y., Pan, S. , Zhao, P., Han, L., Wang , X., Hemer ik, L., Kn ops, J., &
van der Werf, W. (2020). Outbreak analysis with a logistic growth
model shows COVID- 19 suppression dynamics in China. PLoS One,
15(6),e0235247.al.p one.0235247
How to cite this article: Pagani- Núñez, E., Yan, M., Hong, Y.,
perceptions on emergency remote learning in ecology in the
post- pandemic era. Ecology and Evolution, 12, e8659. https ://
8 of 8 
Note that the questionnaire was anonymized and thus only the question list is attached here
disagree Disagree Neutral Agree
1. To learn ecological concepts, it is necessary to experience nature
2. Ecology can be learnt using books and computers
3. My ideal vacation spot would be a remote, wilderness area
4. I always think about how my actions affect the environment
5. My connection to nature and the environment is a part of my spirituality
6. I take notice of wildlife wherever I am
8. I feel very connected to all living things and the earth
9. Onsite fieldwork was the most enjoyable activities of the module
10. Online activities were the most enjoyable part of the module
11. I learnt new practical skills with onsite fieldwork
12. I learnt new practical skills with online activities
13. Onsite field activities are well linked to the topics covered in the module
14. Online activities are well linked to the topics covered in the module
15. I enjoyed collecting data that will be used by my peers
16. I would prefer collecting my own data and not sharing it
17.Iwouldliketospendmoretimeconduc tingfieldactivities
18. I would like to spend more time conducting online activities
19. Ecology is mostly about statistics and big data
20. Ecology is mostly about understanding the world around us
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
The challenges facing higher education in response to COVID‐19 are significant and possibly none more so than in ecology and aligned disciplines. Not only did most ecology lecturers have to rush lectures and tutorials online, but also laboratory and field classes. We reflect on our experience of this move and also consider those of 30 other ecology‐aligned teaching academics to summarize the challenges faced in the move online early in 2020 and the developing plans for adapting ecology teaching and learning going into the 2020/21 academic year. The move online had the most significant impact on field classes, with more of these canceled than lectures or laboratory classes. Most respondents to an online poll also highlighted that many respondents (~45%) felt that ecology was more impacted by COVID‐19 that even other STEM disciplines. The availability of technological solutions is key to moving forward and will hopefully enhance the teaching and learning experience for many beyond the current crisis. The challenges facing higher education in response to COVID‐19 are significant and possibly none more so than in ecology and aligned disciplines. Not only did ecology lecturers have to rush lectures and tutorials online, but also laboratory and field classes. We present our experience of this move and also considerations of 30 other ecology‐aligned teaching academics to summarize the challenges faced in the move online early in 2020 and the developing plans for adapting ecology teaching and learning going into the 2020/21 academic year.
Full-text available
The educational system across the world has immensely been affected due to outbreak of COVID-19; it forced the shut down of educational institutions, which adversely affected student fraternity across the globe. Due to its contagious nature, COVID-19 demanded containment and enforced isolation that tremendously affected personal interaction of teachers and students. In the absence of traditional classroom teaching and one-to-one interaction, computer-based learning has emerged as closest substitute for off-line teaching. Against such a backdrop, it is pertinent to examine the students’ perception and readiness about online-learning system adopted at the university level during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For the present study, the quantitative approach has been adopted and responses from 184 university students of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, India namely Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia (Central University) and Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University are collected through online questionnaire. This research study was conducted during June–August 2020. The findings of the study reveal students’ positive perception towards e-learning and thus acceptance of this new learning system. It has also empirically demonstrated the significance of e-learning in the time of COVID-19 crisis. In fact, e-learning has emerged as a new way of enhancing the learning process where social media may further improve the learning output. The findings of the study will facilitate educational institutions and policy makers to take this online-learning process to the next level in a better way.
Full-text available
The coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic has impacted educational systems worldwide during 2020, including primary and secondary schooling. To enable students of a local secondary school in Brisbane, Queensland, to continue with their practical agricultural science learning and facilitate online learning, a “Grass Gazers” citizen science scoping project was designed and rapidly implemented as a collaboration between the school and a multidisciplinary university research group focused on pollen allergy. Here, we reflect on the process of developing and implementing this project from the perspective of the school and the university. A learning package including modules on pollen identification, tracking grass species, measuring field greenness, using a citizen science data entry platform, forensic palynology, as well as video guides, risk assessment and feedback forms were generated. Junior agriculture science students participated in the learning via online lessons and independent data collection in their own local neighborhood and/or school grounds situated within urban environments. The university research group and school coordinator, operating in their own distributed work environments, had to develop, source, adopt, and/or adapt material rapidly to meet the unique requirements of the project. The experience allowed two‐way knowledge exchange between the secondary and tertiary education sectors. Participating students were introduced to real‐world research and were able to engage in outdoor learning during a time when online, indoor, desk‐based learning dominated their studies. The unique context of restrictions imposed by the social isolation policies, as well as government Public Health and Department of Education directives, allowed the team to respond by adapting teaching and research activity to develop and trial learning modules and citizen science tools. The project provided a focus to motivate and connect teachers, academic staff, and school students during a difficult circumstance. Extension of this citizen project for the purposes of research and secondary school learning has the potential to offer ongoing benefits for grassland ecology data acquisition and student exposure to real‐world science.
Full-text available
COVID‐19 created a host of challenges for science education; in our case, the pandemic halted our in‐person elementary school outreach project on bird biology. This project was designed as a year‐long program to teach fifth‐grade students in Ithaca, New York, USA, about bird ecology and biodiversity using in‐person presentations, games, activities, and outdoor demonstrations. As a central part of this effort, we set up nest boxes on school property and planned to monitor them with students during bird breeding in the spring. Here, we describe our experiences transitioning this program online: we live streamed nest boxes to the students’ virtual classroom and used them as a focal point for virtual lessons on bird breeding and nestling development. In an era of social distancing and isolation, we propose that nest box live streaming and virtual lessons can support communities by providing access to the outdoors and unconventional science learning opportunities for all students. Instituting similar programs at local schools has the potential to increase equitable learning opportunities for students across geographic locations and with varying degrees of physical access to the outdoors and nature.
Full-text available
As education methodology has grown to incorporate online learning, disciplines with a field component, like ecology, may find themselves sidelined in this transition. In response to challenges posed by moving classes online, previous studies have assessed whether an online environment can be effective for student learning. This work has found that active learning structures, which maximize information processing and require critical thinking, best support student learning. All too commonly, online and active learning are perceived as mutually exclusive. We argue the success of online learning requires facilitating active learning in online spaces. To highlight this intersection in practice, we use a case study of an online, active, and synchronous ecology and conservation biology course from the College of Natural Sciences at Minerva Schools at KGI. We use our perspectives as curriculum designers, instructors, and students of this course to offer recommendations for creating active online ecology courses. Key components to effective course design and implementation are as follows: facilitating critical “thinking like a scientist”, integrating open‐ended assignments into class discussion, and creating active in‐class dialogues by minimizing lecturing. Based on our experience, we suggest that by employing active learning strategies, the future of ecology in higher education is not inhibited, but in fact supported, by opportunities for learning online.
Full-text available
Teaching ecology effectively and experientially has become more challenging for at least two reasons today. Most experiences of our students are urban, and we now face the near immediate and continuing need to deliver courses (either partially or wholly) online because of COVID-19. Therefore, providing a learning experience that connects students to their environment within an ecological framework remains cru-cial and perhaps therapeutic to mental health. Here, we describe how prior to the pandemic we adapted our field-based laboratories to include data collection, analy-sis, and interpretation, along with the development of a citizen-science approach for online delivery. This design is simple to implement, does not require extensive work, and maintains the veracity of original learning outcomes. Collaboration online follow-ing field data collection in ecology courses within the context of cities offers further options to adapt to student experience levels, resource availability, and accessibility, as well as bringing instructors and students together to build an open well-curated data set that can be used in ecology courses where no laboratories are available. Finally, it promotes an open collaboration among ecology instructors that can drive lasting conversations about ecology curriculum.
Full-text available
As Open Science practices become more commonplace, there is a need for the next generation of scientists to be well versed in these aspects of scientific research. Yet, many training opportunities for early career researchers (ECRs) could better emphasize or integrate Open Science elements. Field courses provide opportunities for ECRs to apply theoretical knowledge, practice new methodological approaches, and gain an appreciation for the challenges of real‐life research, and could provide an excellent platform for integrating training in Open Science practices. Our recent experience, as primarily ECRs engaged in a field course interrupted by COVID‐19, led us to reflect on the potential to enhance learning outcomes in field courses by integrating Open Science practices and online learning components. Specifically, we highlight the opportunity for field courses to align teaching activities with the recent developments and trends in how we conduct research, including training in: publishing registered reports, collecting data using standardized methods, adopting high‐quality data documentation, managing data through reproducible workflows, and sharing and publishing data through appropriate channels. We also discuss how field courses can use online tools to optimize time in the field, develop open access resources, and cultivate collaborations. By integrating these elements, we suggest that the next generation of field courses will offer excellent arenas for participants to adopt Open Science practices.
Full-text available
The World Health Organization has declared Covid-19 as a pandemic that has posed a contemporary threat to humanity. This pandemic has successfully forced global shutdown of several activities, including educational activities, and this has resulted in tremendous crisis-response migration of universities with online learning serving as the educational platform. The crisis-response migration methods of universities, faculty and students, challenges and opportunities were discussed and it is evident that online learning is different from emergency remote teaching, online learning will be more sustainable while instructional activities will become more hybrid provided the challenges experienced during this pandemic are well explored and transformed to opportunities.
Full-text available
The Covid-19 pandemic has raised significant challenges for the higher education community worldwide. A particular challenge has been the urgent and unexpected request for previously face-to-face university courses to be taught online. Online teaching and learning imply a certain pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), mainly related to designing and organising for better learning experiences and creating distinctive learning environments, with the help of digital technologies. With this article, we provide some expert insights into this online-learning-related PCK, with the goal of helping non-expert university teachers (i.e. those who have little experience with online learning) to navigate in these challenging times. Our findings point at the design of learning activities with certain characteristics, the combination of three types of presence (social, cognitive and facilitatory) and the need for adapting assessment to the new learning requirements. We end with a reflection on how responding to a crisis (as best we can) may precipitate enhanced teaching and learning practices in the postdigital era.
Full-text available
China reported a major outbreak of a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV2, from mid-January till mid-March 2020. We review the epidemic virus growth and decline curves in China using a phenomenological logistic growth model to summarize the outbreak dynamics using three parameters that characterize the epidemic’s timing, rate and peak. During the initial phase, the number of virus cases doubled every 2.7 days (range 2.2–4.4 across provinces). The rate of increase in the number of reported cases peaked approximately 10 days after suppression measures were started on 23–25 January 2020. The peak in the number of reported sick cases occurred on average 18 days after the start of suppression measures. From the time of starting measures till the peak, the number of cases increased by a factor 39 in the province Hubei, and by a factor 9.5 for all of China (range: 6.2–20.4 in the other provinces). Complete suppression took up to 2 months (range: 23-57d.), during which period severe restrictions, social distancing measures, testing and isolation of cases were in place. The suppression of the disease in China has been successful, demonstrating that suppression is a viable strategy to contain SARS-CoV2.