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Quantifying a Relationship Between Place-based Learning and Environmental Quality Photo: Fabio Marini.

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Presentation on theme: "Quantifying a Relationship Between Place-based Learning and Environmental Quality Photo: Fabio Marini."— Presentation transcript:

1 Quantifying a Relationship Between Place-based Learning and Environmental Quality Photo: Fabio Marini

2 Aim: Review the evidence for a direct connection between place-based learning and environmental quality. Project Partners: National Park Service Conservation Study Institute Center for Place-based Learning & Community Engagement Shelburne Farms Adopt-A-Watershed PEER Associates Antioch University New England Massachusetts General Hospital Funding: EPA’s Office of Environmental Education Citation for complete report (available at Duffin, M., Murphy, M., & Johnson, B. (2008). Quantifying a relationship between place-based learning and environmental quality: Final report. Woodstock, VT: NPS Conservation Study Institute in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency and Shelburne Farms. Background Photo: Mack Wong

3 Methods Focused “environmental quality” to “air quality” Research design symposium Literature review Air quality education program identified Evaluation of existing data led to creation of new survey 45-minute interviews with 54 air quality education programs Quantitative analysis of survey data Photo: Jeffery Simpson

4 The “universe”: Interventions to improve EQ (As a benchmark, the EPA FY2008 budget = $7.8 billion) Education interventions to improve EQ (As a benchmark, the EPA Office of Environmental Ed. FY2008 budget = $9 million.) Education interventions that address air quality: Our study population About 200 AQ education programs and teachers identified, though likely that thousands of teachers incorporate AQ. Who We Studied Our study sample We interviewed staff from 54 programs, representing more than 50,000 students from more than 800 schools. Demographic tendencies toward teacher- initiated programs, working with lower-income, older, white students in urban areas. Photo: Skyseeker

5 Key Finding #1 Nearly half of the education programs studied reported evidence of improvements in air quality. Photo:Skyseeker

6 46% of the programs in our sample reported improvements in physical or proxy air quality indicators. Measured Change Program displays evidence of physical or proxy AQ indicator improvement outcomes. n of programs in sample = 25 n of programs with physical AQ improvement = 6 n of programs with proxy AQ improvement = 19 Example (physical AQ improvement): East Valley (WA) Middle School Students monitored school IAQ and worked with administrators to implement structural changes resulting in improved CO2, air flow, particulate levels, odors, and mold. Example (proxy AQ improvement): Exeter (MA) High School Students studied AQ issues and monitored car pooling and idling in school parking lot. Program resulted in a no-idling policy and the installation of no-idling signs. There were three types of programs in our sample: Those that provided information only, those that took some kind of action, and those that measured changes before and after an action. Measured Change 46% Action Taken 43% Info Only 11% Example: North Carolina DNR Outreach presentations at schools and churches about the effects of poor air quality and things individuals can do to help improve AQ. Example: Rose Foundation High-school students monitored AQ near their school and then contacted officials, wrote letters to polluting industries, and participated in press conferences. Information Only Program provided education and/or information about AQ, but displays no evidence of AQ improvement outcomes; AQ was not assessed; no actions known to be taken. n of programs in sample = 6 Action Taken Program displays no evidence of AQ improvement outcomes, but assessed AQ/related behaviors and/or took action to promote AQ improvement. n of programs in sample = 23 Photo: Mack Wong

7 Photo:Skyseeker Key Finding #2 Most of the programs studied took some form of action to promote air quality improvement.

8 PBL-EQ Theory of Change PBL or other education intervention Classroom teaching Nonprofit education program Community education Public awareness campaign Environmental quality measurement or assessment Indoor air quality assessment Local outdoor AQ assessment Behavior monitoring (e.g. car or bus idling, car pooling) Action based on findings Policy proposal to governing body Education or awareness campaign Advocacy Specific remedial actions recommended Change in proxy indicators Anti-idling policy enacted Individual behavior changes Further study undertaken New institutional practices (e.g. cleaning products or procedures) Documented environmental quality improvement Improvements in physical air quality (e.g. carbon dioxide, particulates, relative humidity) Photo: Christian Guthier

9 Photo:Skyseeker Key Finding #3 Programs reporting more place-based learning practices also showed more evidence of improved air quality (r =.40, p <.01).

10 AQ education programs in our sample embodied many qualities of place-based learning. Two-thirds self-rated “strong” on four of six PBL core qualities. PBL Characteristics % of programs reporting quality as strong Personally relevant to learners89% Experiential or hands-on85% Promoted understanding on a larger scale85% Used the local environment as a context for learning80% Students worked individually and in groups76% Project-based74% Supported by school/organization leadership74% Contributed to authentic community needs72% Content was interdisciplinary67% Tailored to individual learning styles56% Promoted attachment to local place and/or community54% Included a service-learning component46% Included structured reflection by students on their learning39% Utilized existing or created new local partnerships35% Fostered collaboration with local community33% Driven or led by students32% Supported by local community30% Initiated by students11% Photo: Ivar

11 The degree to which a program incorporated PBL was the strongest predictor of AQ improvement outcomes. Any proxy or physical AQ indicators improved (Pearson correlation r) Total score for all PBL qualities and practices.40** Total score for core PBL qualities only.38** Funding.24 t Instructional dose.19 t ** significant at.01 level (2-tailed) t significant at.10 level (2-tailed) Photo: Mack Wong

12 Service-learning and community involvement were the most significant PBL qualities that predicted AQ improvement outcomes. PBL Characteristics Improvement in physical or proxy AQ indicators (Pearson r) Included a service-learning component.38** Contributed to authentic community needs.33* Supported by school/organization leadership.30* Utilized existing or created new local partnerships.30* Supported by local community.29* Experiential or hands-on.28* Driven or led by students.23 Project-based.22 Fostered collaboration with local community.21 Students worked individually and in groups.18 Promoted understanding on a larger scale.18 Content was interdisciplinary.18 Initiated by students.12 Promoted attachment to local place and/or community.10 Included structured reflection by students on their learning.10 Personally relevant to learners.09 Used the local environment as a context for learning-.04 Tailored to individual learning styles-.16 ** significant at.01 level (1-tailed) * significant at.05 level (1-tailed) Photo: Jeffery Simpson

13 Proxy indicators may be a critical ingredient in understanding the PBL-EQ relationship. Total score for all PBL qualities and practices Total score for core PBL qualities only Any physical AQ indicators improved Any proxy AQ indicators improved.29*.31* Any physical or proxy AQ indicators improved.40**.38** Any action to improve AQ.30*.18 Any physical or proxy AQ indicators improved, or any action taken.30*.18 ** significant at.01 level (2-tailed) * significant at.05 level (2-tailed) Photo: Christian Guthier

14 Limitations and Areas for Future Study LimitationAreas for Future Study It is unclear how representative our sample is of both air quality programs and programs that address EQ in general. Replicate using larger, stratified, random sampling. Replicate focusing on a different EQ topic (e.g. climate change). Replicate with experimental or quasi- experimental designs. Rudimentary measures of specific PBL qualities and practices. Case study research to provide richer descriptions of best practices. Further research to clarify terminology. Potential tautology between outcome categories and methods of PBL. Further research to investigate the impacts of PBL vs. other educational approaches. Physical air quality improvement outcomes are difficult to measure because they are multiply determined, long term, and large scale. Further investigation of the role of proxy indicators in understanding EQ outcomes of education programs. Scale of impact, perhaps incorporating Short’s EEPI tool. Photo: Mack Wong

15 Financial support for conservation projects that actively attempt to improve EQ primarily through education programs. May provide a good return on investment. Policy support for education that addresses EQ would likely help to advance the discussion of EQ outcomes and impacts within the EE community. Further investment is warranted for research that refines our understanding of the EE-EQ relationship. Implications for Policymakers Photo: Jeffery Simpson

16 Consider adding measurement and assessment components to EQ-related programs. Less concern about what to call a program, and more focus on including specific educational practices that engage participants in their local communities by investigating and measuring real-world EQ issues. Implications for Educators Photo: Christian Guthier

17 Education programs are demonstrating measurable improvements in AQ. Use of place-based education practice was the strongest predictor of AQ improvement. Service-learning and active community connections were the specific PBL qualities with the strongest correlations to AQ improvement. It is possible to quantify a relationship between education and environmental quality in a way that helps us understand best practices. Summary Photo: Ivar


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