Term

Fall 11-21-2016

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAED: NSEE

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Trish Harvey

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Kelly Prusak

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Anne Satori

Abstract

The purpose of this research study was to answer the research question: How does integrating STEM­themed environmental investigations in the middle school classroom impact environmental literacy? In order to understand the various aspects of this research question, a literature review was conducted for the topics of middle school learners, STEM learning and environmental literacy. The study utilized a mixed methods approach and 131, 7th grade students participated in the study; students took the Middle School Environmental Literacy Survey (MSELS) as a pretest and posttest. Between these surveys, students participated in four learning investigations that applied STEM learning, environmental problems, inquiry­based and project­based learning strategies. The four week study period illustrated that students enjoyed learning about environmental problems using the learning strategies, including STEM, inquiry and project­based learning, and the study’s MSELS scores compared well to national data trends for environmental literacy. Middle school students in this study, outscored national 6th and 8th graders, and scored comparatively well to national 7th grade students that participate in exemplary school­wide environmental education programs. Furthermore, 7th graders in this study scored high in the area of Cognitive Skills which included issue identification, issue analysis and action planning which could be contributed to their participation in an integrated STEM program at the study’s school. In addition, MSELS scores highlighted the disconnect between students’ knowledge about the environment, their intention to act positively towards the environment, and their actual, measured follow­through on these positive behaviors. Major findings from this study included the importance of having some sort of statewide measurement for the environmental literacy benchmarks that are already in place for this target audience, and the general positiveness towards learning using the environment, STEM, inquiry and project­based learning.

Research Methodology

Action Research, Interview, Observation, Survey

Included in

Education Commons

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