Experiential Education as a Best Practice Pedagogy for Environmental Education in Teacher Education. Volume 1

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1 Experiential Education as a Best Practice Pedagogy for Environmental Education in Teacher Education Volume 1 Barry Law B.PE. M.Ed (Distinction) Dip Tchg Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Australian Environmental Studies Faculty of Environmental Sciences Griffith University May 2003

2 Abstract This thesis examines the potential of experiential education as a best practice pedagogy for pre-service teacher education in environmental education. The study involves forty pre-service teachers working collaboratively with the researcher in 1998 to test the assumptions of two previous groups of beginning teachers (1996 and 1997) who indicated in their course evaluations that experiential education may provide an effective teaching and learning approach for environmental education. This study combines two approaches to participative inquiry: action inquiry and cooperative inquiry. Both research approaches promote reflection-in-action and involve groups of individuals working collaboratively together as reflective practitioners. The data sources included reflective journals, a researcher diary, pre and post course questionnaires, individual interviews and group interviews. The environmental education course is a single case study and reflects the experience of three groups of students. The first group completed a 20 hour course in experiential education before starting the environmental education course, the second group completed both courses concurrently, while the third group only completed the environmental education course. The purpose of the literature review in experiential education and environmental education in teacher education is to provide a rationale for using a transformative teaching and learning approach in pre-service teacher education for environmental education. Contemporary best practice pedagogical approaches for environmental education are supported by many of the core principles of experiential education highlighting compatibility between theory and practice. The findings show that a transformative teaching and learning approach in environmental education was achieved by combining four key characteristics of experiential education in a holistic process. The four characteristics included reflection, connection to personal experience, emotionally engaged learning and student-centred teaching and learning. The impact of combining these four characteristics resulted in higher interest, motivation and enthusiasm for achieving the social action outcomes of environmental education. Thus, the pre-service teachers confirmed a synergy emerged Page i

3 between the outcomes of environmental education and the pedagogical process of experiential education. The experiential approach allowed the pre-service teachers to engage in the role of the critical reflective practitioner. Consequently, the pre-service teachers were able to identify the potential and possibilities for implementing experiential education strategies in environmental education and also recognise and challenge the barriers that confine and constrain its use in teacher education and formal schooling. As a consequence the pre-service teachers identified that working in collaborative groups of reflective practitioners was essential to continue developing effective facilitation skills and also to help them challenge traditional practice that limited their professional development. They also identified significant changes to the pre-service environmental education course to ensure a higher quality experience for subsequent groups of beginning teachers. The study highlights the need for more research into how well beginning teacher implementing environmental education function as reflective practitioners in their first few years in teaching and are able to challenge the barriers that limit transformative pedagogical approaches in schools. Page ii

4 Table of Contents CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE Teacher Education Environmental Education Experiential Education THE RESEARCH PROBLEM AND QUESTIONS Research Problems Research Questions Research Matrix CHAPTER OVERVIEWS... 9 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION INTRODUCTION THE CONCEPT OF EXPERIENCE IN EDUCATIONAL THOUGHT EXPLORING UNDERSTANDINGS OF EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION Experiential learning as emotionally engaged learning Experiential education as meaningful learning Experiential education as a personal learning cycle that involves reflection Experiential education is grounded in personal experience THEORETICAL UNDERPINNINGS OF EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION Establishing the theoretical underpinnings of experiential education The relationship between constructivism and experiential education PRINCIPLES OF EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION INTERACTIVE MODELS OF EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER/FACILITATOR REFLECTIVE PRACTICE AS A TOOL FOR EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION AS A CRITICAL APPROACH TO LEARNING EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION AND THE PROCESS OF CHANGE EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION AND TEACHER DIRECTED MAINSTREAM EDUCATION AS CONTRASTING PARADIGMS CONTEXTS FOR EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION IN PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES (INCLUDING TEACHER EDUCATION) Adult, community and tertiary education Teacher education EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION IN TEACHER EDUCATION Reflective practice in teacher education Grounding beginning teachers learning in experience A personalized empowerment model for teaching and learning ISSUES AND LIMITATIONS OF EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION IN TEACHER EDUCATION The interpretation of experience Student-centred learning and the content driven curriculum Transformative teaching and learning and mainstream school objectives SUMMARY Page iii

5 CHAPTER 3 LITERATURE REVIEW ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IN TEACHER EDUCATION INTRODUCTION THE SCOPE AND NATURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION The development of a conceptual understanding of environmental education The broadening scope and nature of environmental education The impact of education in, about and for approaches to environmental education CRITICAL EDUCATION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT THAT PLACES A FOCUS ON IMPLEMENTING ACTION Summary of environmental education related to experiential education ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND TEACHER EDUCATION Reflective practice an essential pedagogical approach for environmental education in teacher education Personal experience, reflection and action in environmental education Empowerment for change as a contemporary approach to environmental education in teacher education THE DEVELOPMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IN TEACHER EDUCATION IN NEW ZEALAND International influences New Zealand Government initiatives to support teacher education for environmental education Teacher education for environmental education in New Zealand Summary CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH DESIGN INTRODUCTION FOCUS OF THE STUDY RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND METHOD Introduction Research Techniques and Application Research Techniques Survey: Pre Course - questionnaire Learning journal Researcher Journal Structured Individual interviews Data Analysis VALIDITY OF ANALYSIS Coding Research Validity Triangulation Respondent validation Construct validity THE CONDUCT OF THE STUDY Introduction: Phases and steps in the study Phase 1: Framing the Inquiry Phase 2: Advocacy and Illustration Phase 3: Reflection, Theorising and Implications ETHICAL ISSUES IN THE STUDY SUMMARY Page iv

6 CHAPTER 5 CONTEXT OF THE STUDY INTRODUCTION CONTEXT OF THE STUDY Environmental Education and Experiential Education in Pre-service Teacher Education in New Zealand Background to environmental education Context of Environmental Education in the College Programme Experiential education at Christchurch College of Education The combination of experiential education and environmental education Student Background Framing the inquiry with students THE COURSE Establishing propositional knowledge Exploring practical knowledge Reflecting for experiential knowledge New knowledge that influences propositional knowing SUMMARY CHAPTER 6 RESULTS WAYS OF KNOWING INTRODUCTION STUDENT PROPOSITIONAL KNOWLEDGE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE COURSE Knowledge of environmental education Perceptions of appropriate teaching and learning strategies for environmental education Understanding of environmental education Understanding of experiential education Views of the key elements in the process of experiential education Perceived obstacles using an experiential education approach in preservice training in environmental education The advantages of using an experiential education approach in preservice training in environmental education Summary of student knowledge and understanding of environmental education and experiential education at the beginning of the course STUDENTS PRACTICAL AND EXPERIENTIAL KNOWING DURING THE COURSE Student learning journals and researcher diary Advantages of using experiential education as a teaching and learning approach for environmental education Issues and obstacles in using experiential education in environmental education Positive outcomes/strategies for teacher education Individual interviews Summary of experiences of students during the course as seen in two data instruments STUDENTS REFLECTIVE PROPOSITIONAL KNOWING AT THE END OF THE COURSE Post-course Questionnaire Student s knowledge of environmental education Students knowledge of appropriate teaching and learning for EE Statements best fitting your understanding of environmental education Students understanding of experiential education Page v

7 6.4.6 Obstacles in using experiential education in pre-service training in environmental education What are the advantages of using experiential education in environmental education Summary of the comparison of student perceptions before and after the course EXPLAINING THE IMPACT OF THE COURSE THROUGH THE GROUP INTERVIEWS CONCLUSION CHAPTER 7 REFLECTION, THEORISING AND EXPLANATION REFLECTIONS ON EMERGING THEMES Theme 1 Reflection (Reflective Practice and Critical Reflection) Reflective practice Critical reflection Theme 2 - Learning connected to personal experience Theme 3 - Emotionally engaged learning Theme 4 - Student-centred learning and empowerment for action Summary of four themes Experiential education as a holistic approach to address the aims and objectives of environmental education PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS AS REFLECTIVE PRACTITIONERS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION The potential of and possibilities for reflective practitioners Barriers identified by critically reflective practitioners Barriers to using experiential education in pre-service teacher training for environmental education Barriers to using experiential education for environmental education in schooling The potential and possibilities of critical reflective practitioners in environmental education in pre-service teacher education CHAPTER 8 IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS INTRODUCTION SUMMARY OF FINDINGS What characteristics of experiential education did the pre-service teachers portray as a result of their participation in the course? What aspects of experiential education were effective and to what extent were these relevant for teacher education in environmental education? What characteristics of the reflective practitioner did the pre-service teachers display? What other factors of experiential education were problematic for preservice teachers? Were these issues theoretical or practical? How might the experiential education course be revised as a result of these findings? IMPLICATIONS The Researcher and teacher educators in environmental education School teachers and school administrators Curriculum planners and designers RECOMMENDATIONS For the Researcher Teacher educators (general) Environmental educators Curriculum planners Page vi

8 8.4.5 Further research CONCLUSION BIBLIOGRAPHY APPENDICES INCLUDED IN VOLUME Page vii

9 List of Figures FIGURE 2-1 MANIFOLD LEARNING. (HERON 1989, P.13) FIGURE 2-2 BURNARD S AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE AND HERON S TYPES OF LEARNING FIGURE 2-3 CORE PRINCIPLES OF CONSTRUCTIVISM AND EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION (CITED IN LUCKNER AND NADLER (1992, P.15) FIGURE 2-4 PRINCIPLES OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING FIGURE 2-5 PRE-SERVICE STUDENTS TEACHERS CHARACTERISTICS OF WHAT WAS EXPERIENTIAL (LAW, 1993, P. 79) FIGURE 2-6 A MODEL OF THE EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING CYCLE (KOLB, 1984) FIGURE 2-7 BURNARD S MODEL OF THE EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING CYCLE (BURNARD, 1989) FIGURE 2-8 HERON S MODEL OF THE EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING CYCLE FIGURE 2-9 HERON S VARIATION FIGURE 2-10 CONTRASTING PARADIGMS OF EDUCATION (STERLING, 2001) FIGURE 2-11 A COMPARISON OF EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION AND MAINSTREAM EDUCATION (LINDSAY AND EWERT, 1999) FIGURE 2-12 REFLECTION IN EXPERIENCE (BOUD, COHEN AND WALKER, 1993) FIGURE 2-13 BARRIERS TO WORKING WITH EXPERIENCE (BOUD, COHEN AND WALKER, 1993) FIGURE 3-1 CRITERIA FOR ACTION (JENSEN AND SCHNACK 1994:13) FIGURE 5-1 SUMMARY FEEDBACK FROM STUDENTS WHO HAD PARTICIPATED ON BOTH THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION COURSES PRIOR TO FIGURE 5-2 STUDENTS REASONS FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION COURSE FIGURE 5-3 ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION COURSE PLANNING MATRIX FIGURE 5-4 SUMMARY OF PRACTICAL COURSE ACTIVITIES FIGURE 6-1 PRE COURSE KNOWLEDGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FIGURE 6-2 PRE COURSE KNOWLEDGE OF APPROPRIATE TEACHING AND LEARNING FIGURE 6-3 PRE COURSE UNDERSTANDINGS OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION (COMBINED RANKINGS OF AL THREE SUB-GROUPS) FIGURE 6-4 POST-COURSE KNOWLEDGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FIGURE 6-5 POST COURSE STUDENTS KNOWLEDGE OF APPROPRIATE TEACHING AND LEARNING Page viii

10 FIGURE 6-6 POST COURSE UNDERSTANDING OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION (COMBINED RATING BETWEEN ALL THREE GROUPS) FIGURE 6-7 PRE AND POST COURSE KNOWLEDGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FIGURE 6-8 PRE AND POST COURSE UNDERSTANDINGS OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION (COMBINED RATING OF ALL THREE SUB-GROUPS) FIGURE 6-9 PRE AND POST COURSE KNOWLEDGE OF APPROPRIATE TEACHING AND LEARNING FIGURE 7-1 SYNERGY BETWEEN THE CORE TEACHING AND LEARNING PRINCIPLES OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION STATED IN THE TBILISI DECLARATION AND THE KEY THEMES OF EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION EMERGING FROM THIS RESEARCH FIGURE 7-2 FIEN AND TILBURY S PEDAGOGICAL APPROACHES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND THE PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS IDENTIFICATION OF KEY ASPECTS OF EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION FIGURE 7-3 BOUD, KEOGH AND WALKER S FIVE KEY ASPECTS OF REFLECTION AND THE PRE-SERVICE STUDENTS CHARACTERISTICS OF REFLECTION HELPING THEM TO FUNCTION AS REFLECTIVE PRACTITIONERS List of Tables TABLE 4-1 PARADIGMS OF POST POSITIVIST INQUIRY TABLE 4-2 PHASES OF ACTION INQUIRY TABLE 4-3 THE FOUR STEPS OF COOPERATIVE INQUIRY TABLE 4-4 INTEGRATION OF ACTION INQUIRY AND COOPERATIVE INQUIRY WITH RESEARCH PHASES, STEPS, DATA COLLECTION AND OUTPUTS TABLE 4-5 RESEARCH PHASE 3 AND STEPS Page ix

11 Dedication I would like to dedicate this thesis to my parents, Dorothy and Don Law who made sure that all their four children made the most of their educational opportunities. Their initial support and emphasis on making the most of opportunities that present themselves has led to an academic career that was never contemplated when I finished formal schooling. Page x

12 Acknowledgements When I commenced this PhD in 1998 my supervisor gave me some excellent words of advice. When doing a thesis it is a good idea not to engage in any of the following: move residence, take on more work, or change partners. My ability to take on board this advice has been less that successful. In August 1999 we sold our house and commenced building at Finlays Road, West Melton. On the second count I was appointed the National coordinator for environmental education by the Ministry of Education. However, on the final count I am pleased to say that Heather and I have survived the PhD process. Trying to complete a PhD with a full time job, teenage children and building a new house has at times been extremely difficult and there are lots of people who have provided me with assistance that has allowed me to complete this thesis. I have listed below the people that have guided me through this process. Heather, Sarah, Emma and Hannah. I am extremely grateful to have such an understanding and supportive family who have endured my trips back and forth to Brisbane, the nights and weekends of work, and the times of frustration of not being able to achieve all the things that we have wanted to do as a family. John Fien (supervisor) thanks for the academic guidance, the constant assurance that I could do it and your friendship. Debbie Heck (co-supervisor) thanks for the hospitality in Brisbane, your encouragement, support and friendship. Jeff Heck for continually asking if I had finished and Alex Heck (7yrs) who just though I was crazy man from New Zealand. Vince Ham (co-supervisor and colleague) I have appreciated your comments and feedback throughout the thesis process. Natalie Dunstan (admin assistant Griffith University) thanks for helping with all the layout of this thesis. Gillian and Ross Tasker for all your support and encouragement. Richard Dunlop (Queensland Education Board) thanks for reading the early drafts of Chapter 2. I have taken onboard your advice. Bert McConnell thanks for your support during my research leave and your belief that I could complete this thesis. Page xi

13 Chris Arcus your support and understanding has been fantastic. To all the pre-service students that participated as co-researchers in this research my greatest thanks. To all the New Zealand Environmental Education Masters Degree people thanks for your support. To all the national environmental education facilitators and regional coordinators thank you for your understanding and support. To my secondary programme Colleagues who have provided encouragement and support along the way. Page xii

14 Statement of Originality This work has not previously been submitted for a degree or diploma in any university. To the best of my knowledge and belief the thesis contains no material previously published or written by another person except where due reference is made in the thesis itself. Barry Law 2003 Page xiii

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