Agricultural Contexts as a Platform for Science and Technology: A Cross-Cultural Examination of Classroom, Community, and Modeling Dynamics
The world faces imminent crises related to climate, science literacy, and environmental justice. Place-based education presents opportunities for students to develop environmental advocacy, leverage their prior knowledge, and broaden scientific practice to serve local communities. This dissertation examines place-based science education in two agricultural contexts that promote the incorporation of technology: rural Honduras and school-gardens in the USA.
Various qualitative methods were used to document and engineer successful place-based learning experiences. Field-based observational methods and interviews document SAT, a successful Honduran science curriculum that integrates learners' academic and community knowledge through agricultural experiences. Design-based methods engineer, and revise, curriculum and modeling technologies to create similarly integrative experiences in a school-based garden.
In both contexts, attending to the utilization of experiential and cultural knowledge across place, scientific content, and technology helps explain learners' tensions and successes. To design integrative experiences in school-based contexts using simulation models, a learning environment should align its stated purpose, the instruments used, and the quantitative opportunities of simulation.
Across three papers, this dissertation contributes (1) examples of successful place-based ecological education; (2) a framework for thinking about the role of technology in place-based ecological education across contexts; and (3) design principles for technology-mediated garden-based experiences in NGSS-aligned US classrooms.