Measuring the Effectiveness of North American Environmental Education Programs with Respect to the Parameters of Environmental Literacy
The North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) will assess environmental literacy levels of middle school students and compare the results to baseline data collected nationwide in 2007. In this study the research team will solicit and select a purposeful sample of schools and other program sites that represent the following categories: (1) Networks, e.g., Lieberman schools, Earth Force/Green Schools, Blue Ribbon School, etc.; (2) Programs, e.g. WET, WILD, PLT, IEEIA, etc.); (3) environmentally focused Charter and Magnet Schools; and (4) Independent Schools. By comparing 2008 programmatic assessments to the established 2007 base-line levels of environmental literacy (while investigating the variables that may contribute to school wide or classroom levels of literacy), the field of environmental education and NOAA may make future curricular and program decisions that are grounded in sound scientific data. The Research Team will review these results and generate a report to be submitted to NOAA and NAAEE (and other partners as needed). These results comprise a presentation at the annual NAAEE Conference and other venues. Articles will be submitted to professional newsletters and journals.
Secondary Analyses of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment: Phase I & II Students, Teachers, Programs and School Survey
Phase Three of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment (NELA) will analyze the relationship between middle school students' scores on the MSELS and other measured variables that may have critically impacted the development of environmental literacy in these students. Phases One and Two of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment (NELA) relied on four data collection instruments: The Middle School Environmental Literacy Survey (MSELS), the School Information Form, the Program Information Form, and the Teacher Information Form. The primary outcomes of these phases were to identify general levels of environmental literacy (measured by the MSELS) and to compare these levels both within and across the studies. Through the comparison of these data sets, we could identify schools in which grade level cohorts of students displayed markedly higher levels of environmental literacy variables than their peer cohorts at other schools. However, questions remain concerning the magnitude and influence of variables that were reported on those survey forms, as well as the relationships among variables measured by the MSELS scales. The major research questions that will guide this Phase are: 1) To what extent do the variables measured by these Forms during Phase One and Two appear to have contributed to or influenced students' environmental literacy scores; 2) How do these variables appear to interact with each other; and 3) What are the relative contributions of knowledge, affect, and skill variables to actual commitment or behavior. The resulting analyses of this study will be shared both through peer-reviewed publications as well as appropriate professional conferences.
Into the Woods (ITW)
Queens College’s Into the Woods (ITW) project is an environmental literacy program for New York City Elementary School Teachers enhancing content knowledge about the Earth System and extending their classrooms outdoors into Nature. The classrooms continue to evolve into school stewardship and service learning in partnerships with parks and environmental organizations. The ITW project starts with five Elementary Globe books that link science, math and literacy. Fiction becomes reality during field training that uses GLOBE books as blueprints for how teachers can guide their students to conduct their own research to enhance understanding of the environment. The project trains teachers to design and supervise grade-appropriate research projects using GLOBE protocols in local parks; support them during those projects; and host annual research symposia during which students present their results. The project's template of immersing teachers and students in environmental research is becoming a national model for improving environmental literacy in all school systems. The NYU Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education works in partnership with Into the Woods to connect teachers to the resources, materials, and strategies required to successfully implement environmental education, outdoor learning, service learning and hands-on experiences across all grade levels and curriculum areas.
National Model Earth Science Lab Course
A collaboration of five key states, an array of scientists and educators, and an experienced science curriculum team will develop and establish a National Model Earth Science Lab Course, providing standards and exemplary activities that will reach hundreds of thousands of students annually. The team will create a lab handbook with guidelines and exemplary activities in Earth system science and environmental literacy. All materials will be published on the web and available for free to teachers and students. The initial set of four exemplary labs will engage students in field experiences, classroom experiments and active use of data and computer visualizations dealing with oceans, atmosphere and other NOAA domains. These hands-on learning experiences will help students develop environmental literacy, build deep understandings of Earth as a system, and apply scientific thinking, problem-solving and data analysis. The participating states view this as filling a crucial gap in the approval and implementation of Earth science as a standard high school lab science. This project builds on planning done in a series of projects: National Conference on the Revolution in Earth Science Education, State Alliances for Earth Science Education, and Planning Grant for Earth System Science as a High School Lab Science. This National Model responds directly to essential needs expressed by the states. The labs will comply with national and state standards for Earth science and meet requirements for a true lab science course. This project is bold and ambitious, but also essential for states striving to strengthen their high school Earth science offerings, and it is a practical response to NOAA's need to infuse its resources into the fabric of public Earth science education.