Capstone/Dissertation Title

Facilitating Meaningful Learning Experiences for Middle School Students in Short, Single Visits to an Educational Farm

Term

Fall 11-20-2014

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAED: NSEE

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Renee Wonser

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Asa Gallagher

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Leia Crosby

Abstract

The research question addressed in this capstone is: How can we use Burgess Farm as an effective, engaging teaching tool that takes advantage of students’ short, single visits to the site? The author developed a series of activities that complemented students’ other studies while encompassing key components of engaging work (Newmann, 1992; Thomashow, 1995). Seasonal teaching staff members selected from these activities when visiting the farm with students; following completion of an activity, each student filled in a card printed with “Today at Burgess Farm, I learned…”. The author categorized each student’s response both broadly (animals, plants) and by specific topic (e.g. adaptations, handling), then analyzed the responses for trends based on which activities the students experienced. The animals proved to be the most memorable aspect of the farm for the vast majority of students; additionally, more than half of the students reported learning about adaptations.

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