A Plan to Determine the Environmental Education Resource and Inservice Needs of Teachers in the Chaska School Distrct 112
Wanless, Angela K.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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1994 draft of the Graduation Rule from the Minnesota Department of Education issued a new set of standards for education. Among these standards are required performances in several areas. In the area of "applying informed decision-making processes", students must demonstrate stewardship of the environment. To help meet state standards, an Environmental Education (EE) needs assessment was designed and distributed to all schools in the Chaska School District during the spring of 1994. Results of the assessment showed that 75.3% of teachers claim they are teaching EE while 68.8% of teachers spend less than 30 minutes per week teaching it. From research questions that were made, a Pearson's r correlation and a logistic regression did not show a significant correlation between teaching time vs. reference to the curriculum. With regards to training, there was a significant positive correlation between teachers who have received EE training and teachers who are teaching EE. The item most frequently chosen by teachers to strongly influence their teaching of EE however, was hands-on student materials. Included in the assessment was a form that asked respondents to volunteer to serve on an EE Network. After several phone calls, a group was formed. The group met to review and analyze the results of the assessment. Based on the results and some discussion, the group decided to focus on the acquisition of student/teacher resources and training to improve the teaching of EE in the district. Barriers to this focus, as noted by the network, were funding and time. From this, a plan was designed that involved creating "Envirotrunks" to circulate throughout the district. The trunks were to contain materials and resources that teachers could easily use, buy and/or copy. Future plans for the group included writing grants for further support and integrating EE. Further studies with this population could be done on the definition of EE and the methods teachers use for teaching EE.