Spring 2017



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Karen Moroz

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Leah Willcutt

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Jean Manka


At-risk students come with a history of failure in school. The mainstream classroom setting has not worked for them in the past; therefore, educators must think outside the box and get students doing as many hands-on, experiential lessons as possible. Generally, these students do not have the opportunity to experience many experiential activities. This new curriculum helped students get outside learning new skills, and lured them away from chalkboard lessons. A major component with the curriculum was coordinating with the local parks and recreational system, to create a program where students are involved in using and maintaining local natural areas while learning the background science to care for them. The curriculum is a project-based, interdisciplinary course that incorporates aspects of scientific inquiry and citizen science. Much of this curriculum could be adapted for students of multiple age levels. Flexibility is a must when planning the units since many are dictated by the weather and climate year to year. Depending on location, the sequence of units for particular terms may need to change throughout the school year. In addition, the winter trimester would look much different for northern states compared to southern states, yet many of the same concepts can still be implemented. Despite the time commitment in developing this curriculum it is completely worth the effort. The curriculum not only enriched the students experience in high school, but also everyone involved directly including the professionals and community members who worked with the students, and indirectly other teachers who were inspired to create more enriching curriculum for at risk students.

Research Methodology

Curriculum Development


At-risk Students, Curriculum, Environmental Studies, Science

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Education Commons