A Retro Development in Education: Evaluating the Feasibility of Integrating Place-Based Education into Mississippi Curriculum Standards

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McClain, Colby K
sustainability; sustainable development; child development; ecophobia; environmental education; nature-deficit disorder; Child Psychology; Community-Based Learning; Curriculum and Instruction; Curriculum and Social Inquiry; Developmental Psychology; Early Childhood Education; Educational Psychology; Environmental Studies; Human Ecology; Nature and Society Relations; Outdoor Education; Place and Environment; School Psychology; Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education
thesis / dissertation description
This thesis evaluates the feasibility of integrating place-based environmental education activities from Think Green, Take Action: Books and Activities for Kids into the Mississippi Department of Education’s (MDE) Frameworks for Science and Social Studies for K-5. As children develop and experience the world, their ability to understand and interpret the surrounding environments expand; however, Mississippi schools are not focused on experiential environmental education, even though experiencing and understanding the surrounding environment is vital in fostering eagerness to learn. Due to a growing disconnect between humans and the natural world, this thesis examined 37 place- and environment-based activities for children, sixteen of which were outdoors. By pairing the activities with MDE Science and Social Studies learning objectives for K-5, percentages were calculated for each of the 37 activities as they related to the number of objectives met to the maximum possible number of objectives for each activity, grade, and content strand. Activities obtaining a score of 50% or more were then examined using various developmental appropriateness metrics to determine best practices. The thesis also determines that while it is clear many of the activities from Think Green, Take Action are applicable to the MDE learning objectives, only 10 activities actually use the natural world as a context for learning. Thus, even though many of the activities can be used to achieve the MDE learning objectives, more pedagogies centered around learning in and about the local place are essential to not only a healthy human development, but in fostering ecologically-conscious attitudes and behaviors towards the natural world.