As we approach the second quarter of the twenty-first century, one may predict that the environment will be among the dominant themes in the political and educational discourse. Over the past three decades, particular perspectives regarding the environment have begun to emerge: (i) realization by human beings that we not only live on earth and use its resources at an increasingly high rate but we also actually belong to the earth and the total ecology of all living systems, (ii) there are strong interactions among different components of the large and complex systems that make up our environment, and (iii) the rising human population and its impact on the environment is a great concern (Hughes & Mason, 2014). Studies have revealed that although the students do not have a deep understanding of environmental issues and lack environmental awareness and attitudes necessary for protecting the environment, they have great concern for the environment (Chapman & Sharma, 2001; Fien, Yencken, & Sykes, 2002). However, addressing environmental issues in the classroom and other disciplines has never been an easy job for teachers (Pennock & Bardwell, 1994; Edelson, 2007). Using multiple case studies, this study investigated how three purposefully selected physics teachers teaching a ‘Physics by Inquiry’ course integrated environmental topics and issues in their classroom. Particularly this study looked at what integration models and practices the three physics teachers employed in integrating environmental topics and issues in their classroom and what challenges the teachers faced while integrating environmental topics in their classrooms. Data collection methods including field notes taken from observations, teachers’ interviews and a collection of artifacts and documents were used. The data were coded analyzed and organized into codes and categories guided by Fogarty (1991) models of curriculum integration and Ham and Sewing (1988) four categories of barriers to environmental education. Findings of this study indicate that teachers acknowledge the importance of teaching environmental issues in their classrooms but continue to struggle with conceptual, educational, logistical and attitudinal barriers to successful integration of environmental topics in physics.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. February 2017. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisors: Bhaskar Upadhyay, Gillian Roehrig. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 219 pages.
Integration of Environmental Issues in a Physics Course: 'Physics by Inquiry' High School Teachers' Integration Models and Challenges.
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