Improving Eco-Literacy Through Service Learning; A Natural History Service Project Case Study
Eco-literacy (knowledge of natural history, and direct observation of the natural world and the organisms it contains) is critical to a holistic understanding of biology. Many undergraduate biology students lack this knowledge and experience, often because of a lack of engagement with environmental science curriculum. The effectiveness of service learning is well established, but few examples of service-learning projects in the context of natural history education have been published. We describe how we used best practices for the development of a field-based service-learning project in a college-level natural history course. The project was built around established learning goals and was conducted through a partnership with a local state park. Students worked in groups to conduct bird biodiversity surveys and prepared a printed bird-watching guide, which was presented to park staff. The project was linked to a series of assignments intended to maximize academic and personal growth, including a project plan, progress report, and reflection paper. Students reported increased engagement in the course curriculum and an increased sense of the relevance of the course content.
Collins, Christopher R. and Donahue, Lynn (2019). "Improving Eco-Literacy Through Service Learning; A Natural History Service Project Case Study." American Biology Teacher 81.4, 220-225.
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