The development and implementation of an inquiry-based poster project on sustainability in a large non-majors environmental science course

Article
  • 183 Downloads

Abstract

In the past decade, systematic studies have indicated a significant regression in scientific literacy in nonscience students and students across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines in higher education. Of particular concern, evaluations of introductory lecture-based undergraduate courses have indicated deficiencies in promoting students’ understanding of the role of science and how the scientific community conducts science. In an effort to introduce students to the scientific enterprise, an inquiry-based poster project was developed for a large non-majors environmental science class at a public Midwestern university. Through a term-long project, students (n = 64) worked in a collaborative means to collect and analyze data regarding sustainability topics. Students’ findings were disseminated in a poster presentation during a culminating research symposium that was attended by departmental faculty and university administrators. This paper describes the development and implementation of the inquiry-based project with some preliminary data demonstrating the effectiveness of this activity in promoting student learning and engagement.

Keywords

Environmental science curricula Inquiry learning Large classrooms Sustainability education 

Supplementary material

13412_2012_90_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.1 mb)
ESM 1PDF 1.13 mb
13412_2012_90_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (27 kb)
ESM 2PDF 27 kb

References

  1. AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) (1990) Science for all Americans. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) (1993) Benchmarks for science literacy: Project 2061. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen D, Tanner K (2005) Infusing active learning into the large-enrollment biology class: seven strategies, from the simple to complex. Cell Biol Educ 4(4):262–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Astin AW (1993) What matters in college: four critical years revisited. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  5. Ausubel DP, Stager M, Gaite JH (1968) Retroactive facilitation in meaningful verbal learning. J Educ Psychol 59(4):250–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown PL, Abell SK, Demir A, Schmidt FJ (2006) College science teachers’ views on classroom inquiry. Sci Educ 90(5):784–802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Campisi J, Finn KE (2011) Does active learning improve students’ knowledge of and attitudes towards research methods? J Coll Sci Teach 40(1):38–52Google Scholar
  8. Cawthorn M, Leege L, Congdon E (2011) Improving learning outcomes in large environmental science classrooms through short-term service-learning projects. J Environ Stud Sci 1(1):75–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chapin FS III, Pickett STA, Power ME, Jackson RB, Carter DM, Duke C (2011) Earth stewardship: a strategy for social–ecological transformation to reverse planetary degradation. J Environ Stud Sci 1(1):44–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Coyle K (2005) Environmental literacy in America. National Environmental Education & Training Foundation, Washington, DC. http://www.neefusa.org/pdf/ELR2005.pdf Accessed 25 September 2011
  11. Davies WM (2009) Groupwork as a form of assessment: common problems and recommended solutions. High Educ 58:563–584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ehrlich P (2011) A personal view: environmental education—its content and delivery. J Environ Stud Sci 1(1):6–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kasser T (2011) Ecological challenges, materialistic values, and social change. In: Biswas-Diener R (ed) Positive psychology as social change. Springer, Netherlands, pp 89–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kraft R (1996) Service learning: an introduction to its theory, practice, and effects. Educ Urban Soc 28(2):131–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lave J, Wenger E (1991) Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lederman NG (2007) Nature of science: past, present, and future. In: Abell SK, Lederman NG (eds) Handbook of research on science education. Routledge, Mahwah, NJ, pp 831–879Google Scholar
  17. Luckie DB, Maleszewski JJ, Loznak SD, Krha M (2004) Infusion of collaborative inquiry throughout a biology curriculum increases student learning: a four-year study of “Teams and Streams”. Adv Physiol Educ 28(4):199–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Maniates MF, Whissel JC (2000) Environmental studies: the sky is not falling. BioScience 50(6):509–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McConnell DA, Steer DN, Owens KD (2003) Assessment and active learning strategies for introductory geology courses. J Geosci Educ 51(2):205–216Google Scholar
  20. NEETF (National Environmental Education & Training Foundation) (2002) Americans’ low “energy IQ:” a risk to our energy future. Why America needs a refresher course on energy. National Environmental Education & Training Foundation, Washington, DC. http://www.neefusa.org/pdf/roper/Roper2002.pdf Accessed 25 September 2011
  21. NRC (National Research Council) (1999) Transforming undergraduate education in science, mathemathics, engineering, and technology. National Academies Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  22. NRC (National Research Council) (2000) Inquiry and the National science education standards: a guide for teaching and learning. National Academies Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  23. NRC (National Research Council) (2003) Evaluating and improving undergraduate teaching in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. National Academies Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  24. NSF (National Science Foundation) (1996) Shaping the future: new expectations for undergraduate education in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA. http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf96139 Accessed 25 September 2011
  25. Obama B (2010) Remarks by the President at the announcement of the “Change the Equation” initiative. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/09/16/remarks-president-announcement-change-equation-initiative Accessed 25 September 2011
  26. Orr D (2011) National security and sustainability. J Environ Stud Sci 1(1):36–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Reeves TC, Herrington J, Oliver R (2002) Authentic activities and online learning. In: Goody A, Herrington J, Northcote M (eds) Quality conversations: research and development in higher education, vol 25. HERDSA, Jamison, pp 562–567Google Scholar
  28. Ruël G, Bastiaans N, Nauta A (2003) Free riding and team performance in project education. Int J Manag Educ 3(1):26–38Google Scholar
  29. Seymour E, Hewitt NM (1997) Talking about leaving: why undergraduates leave the sciences. Westview Press, Boulder, COGoogle Scholar
  30. Strong JT, Anderson RE (1990) Free riding in group projects: control mechanisms and preliminary data. J Market Educ 12(2):61–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Vincent S (2009) Growth in environmental studies and science programs. Assoc Environ Stud Sci 2(2):1–4Google Scholar
  32. Vincent S, Focht W (2009) Perspectives on environmental program curricula and core competencies: a report of the curriculum committee of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors. National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  33. Watkins R (2004) Groupwork and assessment. The Handbook for Economics Lecturers, Kingston University. http://www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/handbook/printable/groupwork.pdf. Accessed 25 September 2011
  34. Weis J (1990) The status of undergraduate programs in environmental science. Environ Sci Tech 24(8):1116–1121CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© AESS 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Curriculum and Instruction, School of EducationIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations