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Graduate Students’ Perceptions of the Impact of Nature Journaling at Teton Science Schools

Graves, Elizabeth Jane
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Nature journaling is a key component of the Teton Science Schools (TSS) Graduate Program, a program that prepares participants as natural science educators. Graduate students engage with nature journaling to learn natural science knowledge and reflect on its merit as a tool for education. This study asked the question, “What are graduate students’ perceptions of the impact of nature journaling at Teton Science Schools?” to determine educational, personal, or professional impacts of the assignment. Current literature revealed that keeping a journal can increase learning (Connor-Greene, 2000). Moreover, drawing can further educational gains (Fiorella & Zhang, 2018). Merkle et al. (2020) found that field sketching as part of a journal assignment not only helped students learn natural science content, but also connected students with nature. To study the specific impacts of the nature journaling assignment in the TSS Graduate Program, I employed surveys and interviews as data collection tools. Descriptive coding allowed me to discern three themes of impacts: (a) Impacts on Natural Science Knowledge Gains; (b) Impacts on Presence in and Connection to Place; and (c) Impacts on Pedagogy. These findings suggest that students learned natural science knowledge via the nature journaling assignment and were better able to understand the place they were living through connection with nature around them. Additionally, students were able to reflect on nature journaling as an educational tool and identify improvements for personal relevance and accessibility.
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University of Wyoming. Libraries
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Keywords
nature journals , experiential learning , natural science education , natural science journals
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