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The Socioconstructivist Approach in Environmental Education (EE) Diane Pruneau February 2003.

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Presentation on theme: "The Socioconstructivist Approach in Environmental Education (EE) Diane Pruneau February 2003."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Socioconstructivist Approach in Environmental Education (EE) Diane Pruneau February 2003

2 The Socioconstructivist Approach  Socioconstructivism is a learning process where people build their knowledge with the help of interactions with others as well as with their milieu. In education, students develop their comprehension of a reality by comparing their perception with that of peers and that of their teacher.

3 Why this approach?  People form images and ideas about natural and scientific phenomena.  Conceptions are hard to change:  Preconceived notions interfere  Difficulty in undertanding  Different conceptions are shared by others  Initial conception is satisfactory to the individual

4 Conceptual change  Conceptual change: process during which the student’s ideas are continually enriched and restructured:  Concepts can be added or removed  Connections between concepts can be added or modified  The initial structure of ideas can be completely transformed  Scientific notions are slow to change

5 What helps conceptual change  Awareness of your preconceived ideas  Cognitive conflict with the environment, or with the opinion of peers or scientists  Dissatisfaction with your initial ideas  Experiential learning and reflections on those experiences  A good reflection while confronting one’s ideas with those of others

6 A model for conceptual change  Participants express and explain their conceptions and reflect upon their value  Have the group share their conceptions and confront them amongst themselves  Have them experience the phenomenon, analyze it and extract their ideas from the experience  Present the scientific viewpoint and compare with the group’s ideas  Conclude and put into practice the conclusions of the group

7 Experimentation with the model in Cap-Pelé ( 2001-2002) Brief description of Cap-Pelé  The economy is based on fishing, fish processing (smokehouses), agriculture and cement  Fish factories discharge waste directly into the ocean  Factories cause air pollution  Many parents smoke. High incidence of asthma and cancer

8 Children’s Sensitivity to Environmental Pollution Children are exposed to more toxic products in food, air and water because they breathe 2 times the amount of air, consume 3 to 4 times more food and drink 2 to 7 times as much water as an adult. Because of their low weight, toxic substances are more harmful. Active explorers, children live closer to the ground where toxic substances are found (CO 2 from cars) and they often bring their hands to their mouths. (Center for Children’s Health and the Environment).

9 Research questions  What were the students’ conceptions in September 2001 on the environmental stressors in their area and the consequences on their health?  How did the students’ conceptions change from September 2001 to June 2002?

10 The grade 4 students interviewed are partly aware of the local environmental problems and little informed on the potential effects of these problems on their health.

11 Children’s conceptions about pollution in September 2001 (n=19)  Visible garbage in the water or on the ground (18 children)  Oil in the water (11 children)  Smoke (8 children)  Rotten food, dust, things that stink, seagulls eating garbage (2 children) Pollution = visible waste detected by the senses

12 Children’s ideas about the pollution-health relationship What can be harmful to your health in your environment (Cap-Pelé)  Sugar, salt, candy, chocolate, fat…make you sick (2 children)  Smoke from the smokehouses gives you asthma or red eyes (3 children)  Cold gives you the flu (2 children)  Oil or waste in the water is poison, gives pneumonia, headaches or upset stomach (1 child)  Cleaning products go into the skin and make you sick (1 child)  Waste on the ground: hurts your feet if you walk on it and gives allergies (1 child)  When the air smells bad…it makes you sick (2 children)

13 Example of a child’s remarks  Sometimes there are fishermen who throw their garbage in the water, and oil…Papers on the deck of their boats. That can make us sick and after, we have to go to the hospital…There are people who are allergic to a lot of things. Stuff thrown away makes them sick!

14 Project Health + Pollution - -  Research goal: Acquisition of better conceptions about health, pollution and connection between health-pollution by grade 4 students  Phase 1: Survey of environmental nuisances  Phase 2:We improve our health  Phase 3: We take care of the environment

15 Phase 1 : Survey of harmful environmental substances  Excursion in the community to classify living things (animals, plants and humans) as healthy or sick  Compare one’s opinion with that of a scientist  Identify sources of pollution  Survey of harmful environmental substances in water, food, toxic domestic cleaning products and environmental stressors  Personal research by a biologist on harmful environmental substances  Presentation of scientists’ views on dangerous products  Comparison of biologist’s results with the children’s  Presentation of children’s ideas and results to the municipality

16 Phase 1

17 Phase 2 : Improving your health  Students assess the state of their health  Specialists inform the students on ways to stay healthy  Students establish an action plan to improve their health  They reassess their state of health

18 Phase 3 : We take care of the environment  Learn about ways to improve the environment  Choose an action  Creation of a chess game: to get people outdoors and to help them socialize Chess game with town representatives

19 Students’ conceptions on pollution (September and June, n=19)  Waste on the ground or in the water (S:18, J:19)  Oil in the water (S:11, J:7)  Smoke (S:8, J:15)  Seagulls = sign of pollution (S:2, J:9)  Noise (S:0, J:7)  Harmful substances for animals (S:0, J:7)  Cleaning products, grey clouds, trees cut, presence of non-biodegradable objects, sick plants (S:0, J:1-2)

20 Students’ conceptions on the health - environment relationship (September and June, n=19)  Smoke…asthma, cancer, eye irritations, headache, skin irritations, throat infections…(S:3, J:8)  Noise…earaches, deafness…(S:0, J: 4-7)  Heat waves…stress, headaches (S:0, J:1-2)  Water pollution…headaches, earaches, skin irritations (S:0, J:4-11)  Cleaning products…skin and eye irritations, dizziness…(S:0, J:2-6)

21 Has there been conceptual change?  Pollution: Some diversification in the types of pollution (they added noise, heat, cleaning products…) Pollution is a little less visible but is the transition complete?  Connection pollution-health: biggest improvement in conceptions. The children can spontaneously name many consequences and local environmental stressors on their health and that of animals.

22 Project = good awareness of the local environmental situation

23 Socioconstructivism  Emphasizes on the social perspective of learning.  The new knowledge is acquired gradually by interrelating it with previous knowledge.  The students develop their own comprehension of reality by comparing their perception with that of peers and that of the teacher. Example : While questioning themselves and sharing their experiences, the students developed a common definition of the word peninsula. Source: Direction de la formation générale des jeunes. Document 2. Atelier en évaluation, 8 juin 1999.


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