Author

Bree Lauffer

Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

James D. Kirylo

Abstract

Implementation of a place-based composting unit for food reduction in the Spring of 2019 with 10 fourth-grade students utilized qualitative methodologies in order to measure its effects on environmental awareness in the individuals. Guided by Capra’s (1997) notion of sustainability in an ecoliterate society and Sobel’s (2008) place-based pedagogy, the curriculum and instructional decisions during the construction of the unit utilized read alouds and outdoor activities that aimed to increase the students’ connectedness to their local setting in order to motivate students for engagement in ecoliterate behaviors. Pre- and post-intervention surveys, artifacts and exit slips in student nature journals, teacher-researcher field notes, and formal interviews each developed rich data which were first examined individually. From these independent data analyses, three themes then emerged that holistically captured the overall findings of the study; (a) students developed a heightened level of connectedness to nature, (b) an increase in sense of empowerment, and (c) expressed an overall value of ecoliteracy in school settings. Results from this action research suggests a place based environmental education approach has a positive effect in fostering environmental awareness of fourth grade students. The results of the study also suggest that ecoliteracy, as both a framework for sustainable practices and character development, should further be explored because of its effects on empowering students for positive change and actively engaging students in class activities.

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