Defining and characterizing ecosystem services for education: A Delphi study

John Ruppert, Ravit Golan Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Recent advancements in science have led to an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the many ways in which humans benefit from environmental systems. These benefits, termed Ecosystem Services, are sparsely characterized in education literature, but were included in the most recent iteration of US national science standards: the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In this paper, we introduce the concept of Ecosystem Services and discuss why it is emerging as an important idea to teach. Specifically, we present a definition and set of big conceptual ideas about ecosystem services developed using a Delphi technique: a method that uses repeat survey of a panel of experts in a domain, to reach a consensus about important ideas. Using the central ideas that emerged during this study, we developed a refined model of coupled human-environment systems that articulates multiple human populations as embedded within ecosystems, connected to these ecosystems near and far, and benefiting from the resources and conditions provisioned by these ecosystems. We discuss the implications of this model to future education research, as well as to future revisions of Disciplinary Core Ideas in the National Research Council Framework for Science Education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-763
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


  • ecology
  • economics
  • ecosystem services
  • ecosystems
  • environment
  • environmental education
  • scientific literacy
  • standards


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