Current science education reforms and policy documents highlight the importance of social awareness and activism in solving environmental problems. “Environmental problems are socially constructed in terms of their conceptualized effects on individuals, groups, other living things and systems [. Thus,] research based on constructivist principles provides not only a coherent framework in which to theorize about learning, but also a context for understanding socially constructed issues and knowledge” (Palmer & Suggate, 2004, p. 208). This research study particularly investigated the impacts of two constructivism-based frameworks, constructionism and social constructivism, on students’ environmental awareness and activism, and their motivation and engagement. Students constructed media artifacts to reflect their knowledge, attitudes, awareness, and activism about environmental issues through a constructionist design process. Additionally, social networking technologies were integrated into the process to improve the effectiveness of the frameworks employed in this study.
A convergent mixed methods design was implemented for this research to triangulate the methods by directly comparing and contrasting quantitative results with qualitative findings for corroboration and validation purposes. Twenty-two 10th to 12th graders were recruited from their environmental science class to participate in this study. The findings of the study indicated that students’ environmental awareness and activism were improved throughout the constructionist and social constructivist learning processes. In addition, constructionist and social constructivist methods and tools such as video designing activities and social networking website positively affected student motivation and engagement.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. June 2012. Major: Education, curriculum & Instruction. Advisor: Gillian H. Roehrig. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 183 pages.
Constructing media artifacts in a social constructivist learning environment to enhance students’ environmental awareness and activism..
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