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Evaluation of a Learning Platform and Assessment Methods for Informal Elementary Environmental Education Focusing on Sustainability, Presented through a Case Study (RTP)

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Sustainability and Interdisciplinary Practices in K-12 Engineering Education Curriculum

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Arthur D. Kney Lafayette College

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Arthur D. Kney received his doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Engineering from Lehigh University in 1999 and his professional engineering license in 2007. He is currently serving as an Associate Professor and Department Head in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Lafayette College. Kney has served as chair of the Pennsylvania Water Environment Association (PWEA) research committee, chair of the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Committee, vice president of Lehigh Valley Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), secretary of ASCE/Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) Water Supply Engineering Committee and been a member of the AWWA/ASCE WTP Design 4th Edition Steering Committee. He currently serves on the states PWEA Research Committee and Water Works Operators’ Association of Pennsylvania (WWOAP) scholarship committee, and locally on the Bethlehem Backyards for Wildlife committee, the Bushkill Stream Conservancy board, the Wildlands Conservancy's Education Advisory Team as well as a number of Lafayette College committees.

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Rebecca Arielle Citrin Lafayette College

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Rebecca Citrin is a presently employed as a Site/Civil Staff Engineer for Langan Engineering and Environmental Service. Rebecca graduated from Lafayette College in 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering and a minor in Environmental Science. She previously worked with Lafayette College and North Carolina State University faculty members on an NSF funded education project. Rebecca has conducted research on various informal K – 12 engineering education projects and has worked on developing assessment methods for these projects. Rebecca has also organized various student events such as the Lafayette College Engineering Brain Bowl and the Lafayette College STEM Camp, to both promote engineering and science education for K – 12 students, as well as assess the learning outcomes of these programs. Post-graduation, Rebecca has continued to explore her interest in K-12 engineering education by participating in the ACE (Architecture, Construction and Engineering) Mentoring Program, during which she teaches high school students about the concepts of engineering and sustainability.

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Pamela L.B. Clark PLB Clark Consulting LLC

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Consultant who works with local and national non-profits for grant writing, evaluation, and technical assistance. Board member of the National Foundation for Teen Safe Driving and NJ State Contact for Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). Twenty years of experience in program development and implementation with youth grade K-12. Masters of Public Health (MPH) in Community Health Education from UMASS-Amherst, Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), and Certifed Prevention Specialist (CPS).

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Members of Lafayette College and community partners have developed an informal education platform for upper elementary and middle school-aged learners and a method for assessing the effectiveness of this learning platform. The platform consists of a series of learner-centered, experiential learning modules that are not only aligned with K12 learning standards, but are also in the spirit of ASEE’s mission - promoting excellence in instruction, research, public service and practice. Our team of student leaders, along with guidance from faculty mentors and local education experts, designed the modules and trained facilitators to present them. The modules were presented primarily during an annual three-day summer STEM camp for local elementary school students, as well as during one-day campus events. Each of these educational programs was centered on the theme of sustainability.

Presented through a case study, our approach to assessment is iterative, in that we have developed new instruments for each successive educational program which have built upon previously developed assessment strategies. Our learning outcomes effectively address a call to action by the United States President’s Council on Sustainable Development and are geared to provide a skill set many believe to be critical to global sustainability. The instruments are designed to elicit both quantitative and qualitative data, through pre and post assessments, via a variety of question types. Our analysis of the data collected reveals increased knowledge and awareness of sustainability issues among participants, suggesting strongly that our desired outcomes were achieved. This analysis is supported by scores at the 95% confidence level which affirms that students perform better on surveys after interacting with sustainability-themed modules. A vast majority of participants (91%) were able to accurately define the term “sustainability” compared to 32% who could do so prior to the start of the camp. There was a statistically significant improvement of student knowledge due to camp involvement. We conclude that this informal education platform is an effective way of teaching sustainability to upper elementary and middle school-aged students and therefore believe our assessment techniques to be valid.

Kney, A. D., & Citrin, R. A., & Clark, P. L. (2016, June), Evaluation of a Learning Platform and Assessment Methods for Informal Elementary Environmental Education Focusing on Sustainability, Presented through a Case Study (RTP) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26772

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