Portland State University. Center for Science Education
Date of Award
Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in General Science
1 online resource (vii, 159 pages)
Conservation projects (Natural resources), Problem youth -- Education (Secondary), Problem youth -- Attitudes, Restoration ecology -- Study and teaching (Secondary), Environmental sciences -- Study and teaching (Secondary), Place-based education
The social and environmental challenges of the coming decades will require that individuals possess environmental literacy: the understanding of natural systems combined with a sense of care for the earth, and the confidence and competency to act on its behalf. At the same time, disengaged youth need education environments that foster belonging and promote affective outcomes. The youth conservation corps model provides a natural context for engaging academically at-risk youth in environmental science education, while fostering connection to nature and student self-efficacy in ways that are experiential, relevant, and relationship-based. The focus of this study was a conservation corps program that integrates habitat restoration fieldwork and environmental science curriculum. The participants of this study were eight high school seniors who participated in the program for credit toward their high school diplomas. Data were collected through both quantitative and qualitative measures. Students completed a pre-test to assess their understanding and application of conceptual knowledge in ecosystem relationships and biodiversity. Upon completion of a six-week curriculum, they completed a post-test assessing knowledge in the same areas, two retrospective pre-post surveys measuring connection to nature and self-efficacy, and a post-evaluation measuring affective outcomes. Individual interviews were conducted in order to provide further insights and to identify elements of the program that contributed to positive outcomes. Results showed statistically significant increases in all outcome areas as well as positive student evaluation of affective outcomes. The outdoor and experiential components of the program were found to contribute most significantly to the positive outcomes.
Linden, Sara Jo, "Connecting to Nature, Community, and Self: A Conservation Corps Approach to Re-engaging At-Risk Youth in Science Education" (2016). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3036.