New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
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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