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Using Project-Based Learning to Teach Sustainability Issues to Elementary Students

Using Project-Based Learning to Teach Sustainability Issues to Elementary Students
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Author(s): Ingrid Weiland (University of Louisville, USA), Elisa Pokral (Monroe County Indiana Waste Management District, USA) and Kristin Cook (Bellarmine University, USA)
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 20
Source title: Handbook of Research on Pedagogical Innovations for Sustainable Development
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Ken D. Thomas (Auburn University, USA) and Helen E. Muga (University of Mount Union, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5856-1.ch010

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Abstract

This chapter describes a project-based learning unit on sustainability that was implemented in a fourth grade classroom by an informal educator (the second author) employed by a local waste management district. Previous instruction by the informal educator consisted of one-hour lessons that were separate units lacking the project-based learning format and transition links. This chapter describes a mixed-method case study in which pre and posttest tests as well as focus group interviews assessed students' learning as a result of participating in a cohesive project-based learning unit designed by the authors. There was a statistically significant change (p<0.05) in students' pre to posttest scores, and focus group interviews indicated that students could elaborate much more deeply on their ideas about sustainability after the program. The authors conclude that project-based learning can support students' understandings of sustainability while providing an engaging and enriching format to informal educator programs.

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