GROWING ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND LITERACY
Rhode Island College (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:The National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 1996) were released in the United States (U.S.) sparking the revitalization of materials-rich, hands-on, inquiry-oriented science curriculum. Yet, despite the reformation to grow professional scientists and advance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy, high School students in countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong outperformed U.S. students on international assessments like the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
The discourse in the U.S. was to learn about improving science and mathematics education from other countries, and included exploring contextual factors such as Lesson Study in Japan in order to examine models of professional development to improve the teaching of science through research lessons and professional learning communities.
Environmental education has to compete for attention as a result of an intense focus on STEM education practices in the U.S. This is postulated because of the controversial debate in some areas of the U.S. whether to teach about climate science as part of an environmental education curriculum. The recently released Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (Achieve, Inc. 2013) triggered a backlash to teaching climate science in grades K-12 as part of robust environmental literacy agenda. Environmental literacy, a goal of environmental education, evolves from an understanding of the complexities of human-environment interactions. A survey of U.S. schools by Chapman (2014) revealed that student clubs in environmental studies and sustainability are the most prevalent method (51% of public and private respondent schools) for extracurricular infusion of environmental and sustainability education.
It is not unusual for preservice elementary education programs to use an infusion model for teaching environmental studies/literacy (Powers, 2004). There is limited opportunity within preservice methods courses to address environmental education, environmental literacy, or environmental studies given the emphasis on traditional knowledge domains for teacher certification. This is despite the fact the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) has preservice teacher environmental education standards. Preservice elementary education faculty advocating for environmental education within teacher preparation programs are dependent upon on state certification and political landscape.
This presentation will describe ongoing efforts to advance environmental literacy in undergraduate teacher preparation courses and in a general education courses at a four year degree-granting higher education institution. A research lesson approach to curriculum and instruction is a methodological design to strategically incorporate environmental education/literacy and practices into an existing course. Interdisciplinary faculty are critical to the tenets of environmental and sustainability education. The research lesson methodology reflects the work of two faculty members from two institutions, one in the U.S. and the other in Israel. Additionally, a similar approach is taken among faculty at the same institution to teach in an international service learning college course in Ecuador.
Keywords: Environmental education.