Capstone/Dissertation Title

Does Service-­Learning in Environmental Science Develop Awareness of Environmental Issues and Inspire Stewardship and Sustainable Practices?

Term

Spring 5-5-2016

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAED: NSEE

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Shelley Orr

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Brian Hubbard

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Laura Baden

Abstract

The research question addressed in this capstone was, does service­learning in environmental science develop awareness of environmental issues and inspire stewardship and sustainable practices? The inspiration for this project was research showing the importance of place­based education and youth­participatory action research in creating social change. The research project was conducted in a high school environmental science class, using a mixed­methods approach. Students took pre­and post­unit surveys before a traditional unit and a service­learning unit to determine how their attitudes and behaviors changed through the two units. Students carried out a four week service project with a community mentor focusing on a specific environmental issue and reflected on the process. Students were also interviewed and their final projects were used as qualitative data. The quantitative data showed no significant difference between the two units. Both units improved students attitudes towards environmental issues and helped students make more sustainable choices. Students noted that the service­learning unit had a larger impact on their understanding the environmental issue they focused on. The service­learning unit helped students realize they can have a meaningful impact in our community and they can advocate and take action regarding environmental issues.

Research Methodology

Action Research, Interview, Survey

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