Ontario Teachers’ Views and Practices about Environmental and Outdoor Education
In Ontario an extensive review of the science and technology curriculum at the elementary and secondary levels (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2007, 2008a, 2008b), has resulted in a shift toward a vision of science education that has emphasis on the environment, and a science, technology, society and environment (STSE) approach. Two new environmental science courses have been added to secondary education in Ontario. Furthermore, a report (Bondar et al., 2007) recommended that environmental education be a part of all curricula. It is within this context of curriculum reform and a renewed commitment to environmental education that this study emerged. This project involved developing an on-line survey to determine Ontario teachers’ views and practices about environmental and outdoor education. We collected 377 responses from educators across the province, and interviewed 30 teachers to augment our data. To date we have presented our findings at national and international conferences (NARST, and AERA) and have published one article (Tan & Pedretti, 2010). Currently, we are writing an article for Pathways entitled: A baseline study of Ontario teachers’ views of environmental and outdoor education. For more on this project, refer to Tan, M., & Pedretti, E. (2010). Negotiating the complexities of environmental education: A study of Ontario teachers. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education. 10(1), 61-78.
OISE-TDSB Collaborative Project: Promoting Science, Environmental and Outdoor Education Through A Professional Learning Community
Phase 2 of the project included working collaboratively with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to run an action research group with elementary science teachers and outdoor educators. Participants included 5 outdoor education site managers and staff, and 19 elementary teachers. We met with the participants once a month (for full days) for four months – conducting workshops and activities, while supporting teachers as they engaged in inquiry and curriculum design and implementation. Our monthly meetings helped create community and provided amazing opportunities to explore the intersections of theory and practice across EE, OE and science education; read and exchange ideas; share resources; and develop and implement curriculum. We gathered extensive data (video tapes, group audio tapes, journals, pre and post interviews, artifacts, etc.) and presented preliminary findings at national and international conferences (AERA, NARST and CSSE). Participating teachers also co-presented with the research team at the Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario professional conference. Data analyses, writing of manuscripts and dissemination activities are on-going.