Relationship between attaining ecological literacy and the development of a sense of community
Makin, Darrell William
Master of Education
Environmental sciences (Study and teaching)
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The intent of the study was to examine how attainment of ecological literacy through experiential learning can be enhanced with the development of a sense of community. Research was carried out with three classes of students enrolled in the Outdoor Ecological and Experiential Education program at Lakehead University to study sense of community and how it impacts on the development of ecological literacy. Qualitative research methods were used to determine: (1) the characteristics of experiential learning groups that possess a sense of community, (2) methodologies for development of a sense of community to maximize individual learning experiences, and (3) effects of a sense of community on the development of ecological literacy. Data was collected from three distinct classes (a specialization class, an elective class and a masters-level course) of preservice teachers enrolled in the Outdoor Ecological and Experiential Education program at the Faculty of Education. Overall, 67 students took part in the research project. Data collection methods included pre and post-course surveys, participant observation and selected interviews. Data was then analyzed to generate codes, and develop patterns and themes. Findings were focused on three key areas: the characteristics of a sense of community, effective experiential learning activities that develop a sense of community and the effects of a sense of community on the development of ecological literacy. Themes of “shared commitment” and “action” appeared with regularity throughout the analysis of the data. A conceptual framework explains the link between the development of a sense of community and ecological literacy.