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School of Education

Dr Bethan Stagg

Dr Bethan Stagg

Research Fellow

 Baring Court BC01


Baring Court, University of Exeter St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK


I work four days/week on RENEW (Renewing biodiversity through a people-in-nature approach) and one day/week on ACCESS (Advancing Capacity for Climate and Environmental Science). My research focuses on learning and perceptions about biodiversity. I am particularly interested in plants and invertebrates, as easily accessible forms of nature in urban environments. My ACCESS Flex Fund project focuses on coproducing knowledge about urban biodiversity renewal with families in an area of multiple disadvantage in Plymouth.

My PhD focused on plant blindness, the well-documented deficit in interest and awareness for plants, as compared to animals, and novel pedagogic approaches in school and adult learning contexts. This research highlighted the need for biodiversity education to foster a sense of wonder about the natural world, to promote immersive and sensorial experience with species and ecosystems, and to have direct relevance to people’s lives. You can view a public talk I gave here about Pavement Plants.

I also have a background in sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation. I was a lecturer in land-based colleges for 10 years, teaching at foundation and degree level. I co-produced the University of Exeter Sustainable Food Systems MOOC. 

I am a Member of the Editorial Board for the International Journal in Science Education and I sit on the educational research groups of the Royal Entomological Society and the Royal Society of Biology.


2020: PhD in Education, University of Exeter

2008: MSc Biodiversity and Conservation, University of Leeds

1995: BSc Biology, University of Bristol


2021 - 22: Digital Learning Officer, Field Studies Council

2018 - 21: Research Assistant, Duchy Rural Business School         

2018 - 19: Research Assistant, University of Exeter

2016 - 17: Lecturer, Bicton College

2009 - 16: Lecturer, Dartington Schumacher College

2008 - 13: Community Scientist, University of Plymouth

Research group links

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Journal articles

Stagg BC, Dillon J (2024). Plants and the Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework: educational approaches to support pro-conservation behaviours. Journal of Biological Education Abstract.
Stagg BC, Hetherington L, Dillon J (2024). Towards a model of plant awareness in education: a literature review and framework proposal. International Journal of Science Education, 1-21.
Stagg BC, Dillon J (2023). Plants, education and sustainability: rethinking the teaching of botany in school science. Journal of Biological Education, 57(5), 941-943.
Stagg BC, Dillon J, Maddison J (2022). Expanding the field: using digital to diversify learning in outdoor science. Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Science Education Research, 4(1). Abstract.
Stagg BC, Dillon J (2022). Plant awareness is linked to plant relevance: a review of educational and ethnobiological literature (1998–2020). PLANTS, PEOPLE, PLANET, 4(6), 579-592. Abstract.
Stagg BC, Verde MF (2019). A comparison of descriptive writing and drawing of plants for the development of adult novices’ botanical knowledge. Journal of Biological Education, 53(1), 63-78. Abstract.
Stagg BC (2019). Meeting Linnaeus: improving comprehension of biological classification and attitudes to plants using drama in primary science education. Research in Science & Technological Education, 38(3), 253-271.
Stagg BC, Verde MF (2019). Story of a Seed: educational theatre improves students’ comprehension of plant reproduction and attitudes to plants in primary science education. Research in Science and Technological Education, 37(1), 15-35. Abstract.
Stagg BC, Donkin ME (2017). Apps for angiosperms: the usability of mobile computers and printed field guides for UK wild flower and winter tree identification. Journal of Biological Education, 51(2), 123-135. Abstract.
Stagg BC, Donkin ME (2016). Mnemonics are an Effective Tool for Adult Beginners Learning Plant Identification. Journal of Biological Education, 50(1), 24-40. Abstract.
Stagg BC, Donkin ME, Smith AM (2015). Bryophytes for Beginners: the usability of a printed dichotomous key versus a multi-access computer-based key for bryophyte identification. Journal of Biological Education, 49(3), 274-287. Abstract.
Stagg BC, Donkin M (2013). Teaching botanical identification to adults: Experiences of the UK participatory science project Open Air Laboratories. Journal of Biological Education, 47(2), 104-110. Abstract.


Stagg BC (2023). Impactful Drama: Using Mixed Methods Approaches for the Evaluation of Drama in Science. In McGregor D, Anderson D (Eds.) Learning Science Through Drama, Springer, 249-266. Abstract.

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