Investigation of Elementary Teacher Capacity to Implement Environmental Literacy Requirements
Parker, Melanie Denise
MetadataShow full item record
To uphold Maryland’s environmental literacy high school graduation requirement and curricular standards, local school districts must develop programs that graduate environmentally literate students and provide effective teacher professional development. This study focused on assessing the confidence and ability of elementary teachers in a Maryland school district to implement these requirements. It also sought to determine if there is an association between teachers’ environmental training and their own confidence teaching environmental literacy. This study is a quantitative descriptive and exploratory study that utilized an online survey. Descriptive analysis and tests of significance were used to examine how teachers’ experience, training and environmental knowledge relate to their awareness of state and district policy and curriculum, teaching about the environment, teaching outdoors, and overall confidence in teaching environmental concepts. The study found that elementary teachers in this school district have high awareness and confidence regarding teaching in and about the environment. They are also highly knowledgeable about environmental topics. These teachers demonstrated that focused training and experience significantly impacts confidence in environmental and outdoor teaching. These findings provide compelling evidence of the need to incorporate direct experiences and practice when shaping environmental literacy teacher professional development. Despite the overall confidence in teaching in and about the environment, a little over half of the teachers reported that they took students outside for instruction. Challenges noted are similar to those reported in other studies and include safety, time, resources, appropriate spaces, permission, appropriateness, and student management. Overcoming these challenges does not lie solely with teachers and their confidence but also will require input and support from the administration, facilities, and curriculum developers. Focused professional development on the pedagogy and management strategies for instruction in the outdoors is needed for both teachers and administrators. The opportunity of utilizing school grounds as its own classroom needs to be pursued as a cultural and systemic shift in our understanding of the modern classroom. The integration of environmental topics and outdoor instruction into content areas beyond science will build both the understanding and capacity of teachers and benefit student engagement and environmental literacy.