Environmental Literacy Research Group

MSU Environmental Literacy Project
Kristin L. Gunckel & Blakely K. Tsurusaki

MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

Presented at the 2007 Michigan Alliance for Outdoor and Environmental Education Conference

This research is supported in part by three grants from the National Science Foundation: Developing a research-based learning progression for the role of carbon in environmental systems (REC 0529636), the Center for Curriculum Materials in Science (ESI-0227557) and Longterm Ecological Research in Row-crop Agriculture (DEB 0423627. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

CCMS

Environmental Literacy Research Group

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE LITERACY RESEARCH GROUP
 Principal Investigator, Charles W. Anderson, Michigan State University  Lindsey Mohan, Chris Wilson, Beth Covitt, Hui Jin, Jing Chen, Hasan Abdel-Kareem, Rebecca Dudek, Josephine Zesaguli, Hsin-Yuan Chen, Brook Wilke, Ed Smith, Jim Gallagher, and Edna Tan at Michigan State University  Phil Piety at the University of Michigan  Mark Wilson, Karen Draney, Jinnie Choi, and Yong-Sang Lee at the University of California, Berkeley.

PRESENTATION OVERVIEW

Environmental Literacy Research Group

      

What is Environmental Science Literacy? Introduction to Learning Progressions Our research Audience participation Implications of our research Resources Get Involved!

Environmental Literacy Research Group

THE NEED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE LITERACY  Humans are fundamentally altering natural systems that sustain life on Earth  Citizens need to understand science to make informed decisions that maintain Earth’s life supporting systems  Citizens act in multiple roles that affect environmental systems: as learners, consumers, voters, workers, volunteers, and advocates

RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP and ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE LITERACY

Environmental Literacy Research Group

Environmental science literacy is the capacity to understand and participate in evidencebased decision-making about the effects of human actions in coupled human and natural environmental systems. (Anderson, et al., 2006)

Environmental Literacy Research Group

STRANDS FOR PHENOMENA  Carbon: foods and fuels, global climate change, processes that produce, transform, and oxidize organic carbon  Water: fresh water, water management, processes that move and distribute water, processes that alter water composition  Biodiversity: foods and land for living, processes that create, sustain, and reduce biodiversity

THE LOOP DIAGRAM: STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES OF SOCIOECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS

Environmental Literacy Research Group

Environmental Literacy Research Group

IMPLICATIONS FOR SCIENCE CURRICULUM

 Thinking about any of the issues in the loop requires “completing the loop”  Our current K-12 school curriculum is fragmented and inside the environmental systems box  We need to teach what’s inside the box in ways that enable students to connect to the arrows

Environmental Literacy Research Group

EXAMPLE SCENARIO: Ice Mountain Water  Nestle Bottling Company (Ice Mountain Bottled Water) has applied to drill a large well in the Muskegon River Watershed. Should they be allowed to do so?
 Where is the source of the water?  How much water will be withdrawn?  How will the well affect the groundwater supply?  How will the well affect the tributary rivers and the trout in the rivers?

THE LOOP DIAGRAM: ICE MOUNTAIN
Human Actions with Environmental Impact Groundwater Pumping Human, Social, & Economic Systems Structure of systems Wells Connections to Natural systems, Social & Economic systems Processes that move water Groundwater pumping Natural Environmental Systems

Environmental Literacy Research Group

Structure of systems Groundwater, Surface water, Atmosphere Connections among systems Processes that move water through connected systems Precipitation, Run-off, infiltration

Environmental System Services Abundant, high quality fresh water

Water: Current K-12 Curriculum

Environmental Literacy Research Group

 K-5:
 Water cycle, where water is located, water conservation

 6-12:
 Physical science: phase change  Chemistry: solutions  Earth science: weather

 Missing
 Groundwater  Watersheds  Engineered systems

LEARNING PROGRESSIONS
Environmental Literacy Research Group

High School Middle School Elementary School

Connected Understanding

LEARNING PROGRESSIONS
Environmental Literacy Research Group

Upper Anchor What high school students should know and be able to do

Lower Anchor How children think and make sense of the world

WHY LEARNING PROGRESSIONS?
Environmental Literacy Research Group

 How do students move from their ideas to more

scientific answers? (learning trajectory)  What are the connections between students’ experiences and how they are thinking about concepts at different points in their K-12 schooling?  How can we rethink curriculum to best help students learn?

Environmental Literacy Research Group

STUDENT ASSESSMENTS

 Assess student understand of science concepts  Analyze patterns in student answers  Conduct interviews

Environmental Literacy Research Group

PARTICIPATION

 Arrange the answers from highest to

lowest in terms of understanding.  What do these questions tell you about students’ understandings of watersheds, groundwater, and the connections between them?

Environmental Literacy Research Group

WATER IN THE RIVER QUESTION

Why is there still water flowing in rivers even when it hasn’t rained recently anywhere along the river?

Environmental Literacy Research Group

WATERSHED QUESTION If a water pollutant is put into the river at town C, which towns (if any) would be affected by the pollution? Explain why only these towns would be affected.

Environmental Literacy Research Group

GROUNDWATER QUESTION

Sometimes we get water out of the ground using wells. Draw a picture of what you think it looks like underground where there’s water. Be sure to label the important things that help show how water exists underground. Also, show in your picture how we get water out of the ground.

INTERPRETATION: Structure of Systems
Environmental Literacy Research Group

 Trend from lower to higher level answers: Invisible to visible  Yet even at higher levels, important parts and connections remain invisible or poorly understood  Examples:
 Groundwater Question: Answer C vs. Answer A  Water in River Question: Answer B vs. Answer C

INTERPRETATION: Connections Among Systems

Environmental Literacy Research Group

 Trend from lower to higher level answer: Need for processes to explain what happens  Yet even at higher levels, some important processes remain poorly understood  Examples:
 Watershed Question: Answer A vs. Answer B  Water in River Question: Answer B vs. Answer C

Environmental Literacy Research Group

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Interview Data: Ice Mountain Scenario  What stands out to you about students’ understanding of the science?  What are students basing their decisions on?  How is their understanding of science affecting their decisions?

INTERPRETATION

Environmental Literacy Research Group

IMPLICATIONS
Environmental Literacy Research Group

 Make the invisible parts of systems visible  Students need to understand how water moves through one system before they can understand how to connect systems  Start with the ideas that students bring to learning about the environment  Recognize that how humans are connected to and influence environmental systems

Environmental Literacy Research Group

NEXT STEPS
   Increase emphasis on inquiry and citizenship in addition to accounts Refine assessments Conduct teaching experiments to refine understanding of how students engage with and learn about environmental science Use research to…
  Inform development of curriculum materials Inform development of new standards for formal K-12 science education

Environmental Literacy Research Group

RESOURCES

Environmental Literacy website:  Assessments  Curriculum  Papers and Presentations

http://edr1.educ.msu.edu/EnvironmentalLit/i

Environmental Literacy Research Group

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS