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The Development of a Place-based Learning Environment

Principal investigators

David Zandvliet, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Zandvliet is an Associate Professor with the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University and an Adjunct Research Fellow at Curtin University of Technology (Australia). An experienced teacher and researcher, he has published numerous articles in international journals and presented refereed conference papers on six continents and in over 15 countries. His career interests lie in the areas of science, technology and environmental education. As a former director of the Faculty’s Centre for Educational Technology, he has considerable experience in the design and evaluation of classrooms and in the provision of teacher professional development. He has conducted research and development on learning environments in Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.

Research Assistants

  • Carlos Gustavo A. Ormond, Investigating learning environments in place-based education settings: A participatory action research approach. (in progress). Doctoral dissertation, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.
  • Susan M. Teed, Coming to terms with the education system: Words from a departing teacher. (Doctoral dissertation in progress, spring 2012 expected completion date), Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.
  • Laura Piersol, Doctoral student, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC

Description

This section describes and documents one elementary school’s experiences in achieving their environmental literacy goals, through the development of a place-based learning environment over a period of five years. In September 2005, a study began at a Canadian elementary school (CES) to support and encourage environmental education in addition to helping the school realize its broad environmental learning goals. The Ecological Education Project (EEP) studied the complex ecology of the intersection between scientific knowledge, pedagogy, student learning and curriculum. Following a participatory observer research model, the project is recounted from the eyes, ears and experiences of the teachers, researchers and community involved.  The EEP identified and developed innovative approaches for the teaching of scientific and interdisciplinary topics around ecological education framed within the context of eco-literacy. Included are problem-based constructivist approaches to learning, and inquiry-oriented teaching and learning as central elements with which to approach teaching and learning. The model we used for the involvement of teachers in studying their own classroom environments follows an action research methodology, which allows teachers and students, as participants of the study, to be co-investigators and co-creators of knowledge with us in this research. The programs described in this chapter provide us with insights for the development of place-based environmental programming and the success of one 'lighthouse school' within the CRYSTAL Pacific project.

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Conference Presentations

  • Ormond, C., Piersol, L., Teed, S., & Zandvliet, D. B. (2010, April). Case-studies in the development of place-based learning environments. Paper presented at the 2010 International Conference on Interpersonal Relationships in Education, Boulder, CO, USA.
  • Ormond, C., Zandvliet, D. B., Teed, S., & Piersol, L., (2010, March). The development of a place-based learning environment. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
  • Zandvliet, D. B., & Ormond, C. G. A. (2010, May). Validating the place-based learning and constructivist environment survey (PLACES) in diverse settings. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO, USA.
  • Zandvliet, D. B., & Ormond, C. G. A. (2010, April). Developing and describing place-based and constructivist learning environments. Paper presented at the 2010 International Conference on Interpersonal Relationships in Education, Boulder, CO, USA.
  • Ormond, C., Zandvliet, D. B., Teed, S., & Piersol, L. (2010, March). The development of a place-based learning environment. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
  • Zandvliet, D. B., & Ormond, C. G. A. (2009, May). ‘Learning’ environments. Paper presented at the 5th World Environmental Education Congress (5WEEC), Montreal, PQ.

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