|dc.description.abstract||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.||