Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 1023–1047 | Cite as

The Integration of Environmental Education into Two Elementary Preservice Science Methods Courses: A Content-Based and a Method-Based Approach

  • Ingrid S. WeilandEmail author
  • Judith A. Morrison


To examine the notion of environmental education (EE) as context for integrating the elementary curricula, we engaged in a multi-case study analysis (Yin 2009) of two preservice elementary science methods courses that utilized an experiential reflective approach—case one (University A) through a science content focus (i.e., sustainability) and case two (University B) through a method focus (i.e., problem-based learning). We examined preservice teachers’ understandings of EE, their ideas to incorporate EE into their future teaching, and their conceptions of EE as a context for integration. Results indicate that both foci (content and method) were successful in building EE content, helping preservice teachers to envision EE in their future classrooms, and promoting EE as a context for integrating their instruction. Based on these results, we offer recommendations for the incorporation of EE as a context for integration into the elementary science methods course.


Environmental education Preservice elementary teacher education Integration 


  1. Abd-El-Khalick, F., & Akerson, V. (2009). The influence of metacognitive training on preservice elementary teachers’ conceptions of nature of science. International Journal of Science Education, 31(16), 2161–2184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abell, S., & Bryan, L. (1997). Reconceptualizing the elementary science methods course using a reflection orientation. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 8(3), 153–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Akerson, V., Weiland, I., Park Rogers, M., & Pongsanon, K. (in review). Exploring elementary science methods course contexts for improving Nature of Science conceptions and understandings of NOS teaching strategies.Google Scholar
  4. Amirshokoohi, A. (2010). Elementary preservice teachers’ environmental literacy and views toward science, technology, and society (STS) issues. Science Educator, 19(1), 56–63.Google Scholar
  5. Appleton, K. (2007). Elementary science teaching. In S. Abell & L. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 493–535). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  6. Bodzin, A. M., Klein, B. S., & Weaver, S. (Eds.). (2010). The inclusion of environmental education in science teacher education. Dordrecht, NL: Springer.Google Scholar
  7. Boss, S. (Fall, 2001). Schoolyard science takes root. Northwest Teacher, 13–15.Google Scholar
  8. Chard, S. C., & Flockhart, M. E. (2002). Learning in the park. Educational Leadership, 60, 53–54.Google Scholar
  9. Culen, G. R. (2005). The status of environmental education with respect to the goal of responsible citizenship behavior. In H. Hungerford, W. Bluhm, T. Volk, & J. Ramsey (Eds.), Essential readings in environmental education (pp. 37–45). Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing L.L.C.Google Scholar
  10. Danielowich, R. (2012). Looking through different lenses: How preservice science teachers use practice-oriented reflections to negotiate more reform-minded identities. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 23(4), 323–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gallagher, S., Stepien, W., Sher, B., & Workman, D. (1995). Implementing problem-based learning in science classrooms. School Science and Mathematics, 95(3), 141–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Haney, J., Wang, J., Kiel, C., & Zoffel, J. (2007). Enhancing teachers’ beliefs and practices through problem-based learning focused on pertinent issues of environmental health science. Journal of Environmental Education, 38(4), 25–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Howitt, C. (2007). Preservice elementary teachers’ perceptions of factors in an holistic methods course influencing their confidence in teaching science. Research in Science Education, 37(1), 41–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hug, J. W. (2010). “Eeew! There’s dew on my toes”: Common characteristics of preservice elementary teacher learning in environmental education and instructional strategies for science teacher educators. In A. M. Bodzin, B. S. Klein, & S. Weaver (Eds.), The inclusion of environmental education in science teacher education (pp. 127–142). Dordrecht, NL: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.Google Scholar
  16. Mastrilli, T. (2005). Environmental education in Pennsylvania’s elementary teacher education programs: A statewide report. Journal of Environmental Education, 36(3), 22–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McDonald, J. T., & Dominquez, L. A. (2010). Professional preparation for science teachers in environmental education. In A. M. Bodzin (Ed.), The inclusion of environmental education in science teacher education (pp. 17–30). Dordrecht, NL: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. McKeown-Ice, R. (2000). Environmental education in the United States: A survey of preservice teacher education programs. Journal of Environmental Education, 32(1), 4–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Moon, J. (2005). Reflections in learning and professional development. Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge Falmer.Google Scholar
  20. Morton, T. (2012). Classroom talk, conceptual change, and teacher reflection in bilingual science teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 28(1), 101–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. National Academy Press. Retrieved from
  22. North American Association for Environmental Education. (2004). Guidelines for the preparation and professional development of environmental educators. Washington, D.C.: North American Association for Environmental Education.Google Scholar
  23. Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. (2010). Sustainability design project teachers’ guide, version 2.0,
  24. Park Rogers, M. A., & Abell, S. K. (2007). Connecting with other disciplines (Perspectives Column). Science and Children, 44(6), 58–59.Google Scholar
  25. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  26. Pederson, J., & McCurdy, D. (1992). The effects of hands-on minds-on teaching experiences on the attitudes of preservice elementary teachers. Science Education, 76(2), 441–446.Google Scholar
  27. Peterson, R., & Treagust, D. (1998). Learning to teach primary science through problem-based learning. Science Education, 82(2), 215–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Project Learning Tree. (2007). PreK-8 environmental education activity guide. Washington, D.C.: American Forest Foundation.Google Scholar
  29. Project Learning Tree Secondary Environmental Education Program. (2006). Exploring environmental issues: Places we live. Washington, D.C.: American Forest Foundation.Google Scholar
  30. Rickenson, M. (2001). Learners and learning in environmental education: A critical review of the evidence. Journal of Environmental Education, 7(3), 207–320.Google Scholar
  31. Riley, J. (1979). Research papers: The influence of hands-on science process training on preservice teachers’ acquisition of process skills and attitude toward science and science teaching. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 16(5), 373–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sadler, T. D. (2004). Informal reasoning regarding socioscientific issues: A critical review of research. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(5), 513–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schepige, A., Morrell, P., Smith-Walters, C., Sadler, K., Munck, M., & Rainboth, D. (2010). Using environmental education Project curricula with elementary preservice teachers. In A. M. Bodzin, B. S. Klein, & S. Weaver (Eds.), The inclusion of environmental education in science teacher education (pp. 281–296). Dordrecht, NL: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schon, D. (1984). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  35. Siry, C., & Lara, J. (2012). “I didn’t know water could be so messy”: Co-teaching in elementary teacher education and the production of identity for a new teacher of science. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 7(1), 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Smith-Sebasto, N., & Cavern, L. (2006). Effects of pre- and posttrip activities associated with a residential environmental education experience on students’ attitudes toward the environment. Journal of Environmental Education, 37(4), 3–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stern, M., Powell, R., & Ardoin, N. (2008). What difference does it make? Assessing outcomes from participation in residential environmental education program. Journal of Environmental Education, 39(4), 31–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. UNESCO-UNEP. (2005). The Tbilisi Declaration, 1977. In H. Hungerford, W. Bluhm, T. Volk, & J. Ramsey (Eds.), Essential Readings in Environmental Education (pp. 13–16). Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing L.L.C.Google Scholar
  39. Weiland, I. (2011). Where does our food come from? Third graders become investigators in this problem-based learning unit. Science & Children, 48(5), 40–44.Google Scholar
  40. Weiland, I., & Carman, S. (2011). The status of environmental education in Indiana K-12 schools. The Hoosier Science Teacher, 35(4), 101–110.Google Scholar
  41. Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research designs and methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  42. Zhang, M., Parker, J., Eberhardt, J., & Passalacqua, S. (2011). “What’s so terrible about swallowing an apple seed?” Problem-based learning in kindergarten. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20(5), 468–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Association for Science Teacher Education, USA 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Education and Human DevelopmentUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  2. 2.Washington State University, Tri-CitiesRichlandUSA

Personalised recommendations