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Nature Journaling: A Mediating Activity for Scientific Practices in the Classroom

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Today’s science education has been highly criticized in the United States despite reform efforts that attempt to promote more wholistic and integrated goals for teaching and learning science, which include

Today’s science education has been highly criticized in the United States despite reform efforts that attempt to promote more wholistic and integrated goals for teaching and learning science, which include both the understanding of key content and the acquisition of scientific skills. Outdoor education may be a means with which to better engage students in science, but educators often find this type of teaching difficult to adopt for a variety of reasons. Nature journaling may be a useful access point to outdoor education for teachers experiencing those barriers. This study examines a six-month implementation of nature journaling activities in a high school Ecology & Animal Behavior course. It was found that students completing nature journaling in this classroom utilized both scientific knowledge and scientific practices in their work, and that instances and depth of these demonstrations increased as a general trend over time, which may be considered successful learning according to situativity theory. Further, students communicated their understanding of what they were accomplishing through their journal work as highly beneficial, though their own perceptions of their competencies in scientific practices did not change. Though additional research needs to be conducted, this study points to a potentially positive relationship between modern science education and outdoor learning through nature journal activities.

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  • 2021

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Increasing Student Engagement and Student Voice Through Collaborative Reflection

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In this study, the current literature regarding student engagement and student voice were reviewed to explore the connection between these two classroom elements. Currently, frequently incorporating student voice in

In this study, the current literature regarding student engagement and student voice were reviewed to explore the connection between these two classroom elements. Currently, frequently incorporating student voice in order to increase student engagement most commonly takes place at the high school and university levels. Thus, utilizing Finn’s (1989) participation-identification theory, this study set out to implement a practical design intervention in an elementary classroom to increase student engagement through the incorporation of student voice. Using Design-Based Research, I implemented a collaborative reflection process which allowed students, teacher/researcher, and co-educators to provide feedback on classroom task and participant structures. The feedback was then considered for further iterations of the task and participant structures. This was a pilot study of the collaborative reflection process and was implemented in a fourth-grade math classroom with 26 participants. Along with participating in the collaborative reflection process, the student participants also took a 26 question Learner Empowerment Measure to survey their feelings of identity with the classroom before and after the design intervention. After analyzing audio data gathered during the classroom tasks, as well as student feedback, it was found that student participation did increase due to the design intervention. However, there was no measurable difference in students’ feelings of identity with the classroom due to the collaborative reflection process. Future studies should consider implementing the collaborative reflection process in multiple classrooms across diverse activities during the school year.

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  • 2019