Portland State University. Graduate School of Education
Date of Award
Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in General Science
1 online resource (vi, 161 p.) : 1 col. ill.
Science -- Study and teaching -- United States -- Methodology, Environmental education -- Standards -- United States, Science teachers -- In-service training -- United States
This research is an in-depth study of an environment-based education (EBE) professional development program titled "Creeks and Kids" that models how to employ thematic instruction about watersheds using the environment of a school and its community as a context to integrate teaching and learning about water across core subject areas. This case study investigates the EBE characteristics of the Creeks and Kids Workshop and explores how they adhere to the National Research Council's Standards for Professional Development for Teachers of Science. A mixed-methods analysis gathered qualitative data about the overall experience of teacher-participants during the Creeks and Kids Workshop and employed quantitative measures to identify evidence of success related to teachers' gains in knowledge, affect, confidence and intent to act to implement water-focused EBE curriculum in their classrooms. The findings of the study build upon existing research about what teachers need to implement EBE and their beliefs regarding what professional development should provide in relation to those needs. Qualitative results revealed that teachers need an EBE professional development program to include: 1) practical ways to integrate environmental education into their existing curricula and school settings; and, 2) direct experience with activities and field studies that are interdisciplinary, hands-on and inquiry-driven. Teacher-participants identified these characteristics as vital for them to effect a change in teaching practice and build their confidence to engage their students in EBE when they return to the classroom. Quantitative results revealed statistically significant gains across knowledge, affect, confidence and intent to act variables using the t-test statistic to compare means of participants' responses from the pre- to post-workshop questionnaires. The results of this study have broader implications for future educational research on: 1) the ways in which EBE professional development programs can support teachers to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to implement interdisciplinary teaching for student learning about the environment; 2) the methods teachers use to employ EBE teaching strategies in the classroom; and, 3) how EBE helps teachers across disciplines collaborate with one another to implement practical and effective ways to improve students' critical thinking skills and knowledge across multiple subjects.
Austin, Tiffany Bridgette, "An Environment-based Education Approach to Professional Development: A Mixed Methods Analysis of the Creeks and Kids Watershed Workshop and Its Impact on K-12 Teachers" (2010). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 103.