Summer 2017



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Bill Lindquist

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Brenda Nelson

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Jarod Werner


The purpose of this study was to answer the question: how does experience-based learning impact students’ decisions to perform sustainable actions. Three specific key points that surfaced throughout the capstone focused on appropriate environmentally sustainable actions for students, influences that change behaviors and effective implementation methods for sustainable actions. This six week study took place in a third grade elementary classroom. Experience-based learning incorporated in the study included tracking daily and weekly classroom and food waste as well as recycling. The featured experience-based learning activity of the study was using vermicompost in the classroom to develop student understanding of compost and recycling. Data collection methods included questionnaires, interviews, drawing activities, scenario questions, observations, and tracking food and classroom waste and classroom recycling. Analysis of the data revealed that experience-based learning is in fact an effective educational method in a classroom, however, it doesn’t translate to immediate results outside of a school setting. Rather, the influence of parents, peers, and related experience-based opportunities has a larger impact on students performing sustainable actions outside of school. Implications of this research suggest that parent involvement in student learning is paramount. Future research may consider the long term implications of keeping parents engaged and allowing them to participate in classroom activities.

Research Methodology

Action Research


Environmental Studies

Included in

Education Commons