Service, Science, and Standards: Using Restoration Service-Learning to Meet Science Standards
thesisposted on 01.01.2015, 00:00 by Charles W. Vogelheim
Some organizations that conduct ecological restoration offer classrooms the opportunity to learn science concepts while working on ecological restoration projects through restoration service-learning (RSL) experiences. RSL involves three stakeholders: restoration organizations who are concerned with community outreach and successful restoration, the students who are engaged when educators lead quality service-learning experiences, and the teachers and schools who are required to have their students meet mandated science standards. This project aims to seek the intersection where restoration practice, quality service-learning practice, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) align. The literature suggests that all three stakeholders share an authenticity of experience, a focus on depth of knowledge verses breadth, an incorporation of practice with content knowledge, and a disciplinary focus on human impacts on natural systems. A thematic analysis of three RSL organizations identified how organizations are approaching integrating NGSS into their curricula and the challenges they have experienced with its integration. Results indicate that RSL and NGSS alignment is possible in practice, however there are limiting factors preventing an ideal integration of quality service-learning pedagogy, restoration practice, and NGSS. These include RSL organizations' primary focus on accomplishing successful restoration, the complexity of NGSS, and a lack of time for RSL organizations and classroom teachers to engage in and understand NGSS. Given these limiting factors, recommendations are presented for RSL organizations that are seeking to incorporate NGSS into their curricula.