Date of Award

Winter 2-26-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

First Advisor

Robin Hummel

Abstract

Learner-Centered Nature Walks details the research of Heather van der Grinten in supplementing Junior Ranger Walks with a learner-centered mindset. The approach was intended to reflect her personal growth as a museum educator, demonstrate the viability of the Bank Street praxis of progressive education in an environmental education setting, and highlight potential growth for future Junior Ranger lesson-planning. The methodology involved experimenting with lesson plans, keeping a detailed reflection journal, and asking for voluntary feedback from peers, supervisors, and participants from June to September 2018. The samples of student work as shown in Appendix A and B were voluntarily given to van der Grinten to be used as part of her analysis. The research has found that asking for input as an initiation to an experience creates an immediate sense of engagement on the part of the participants. The research also concluded that inviting learners to create a visual artifact after a direct sensory experience provided an opportunity for reflection, group discussion, and an informal evaluation tool for the educator to monitor the program’s effectiveness. These findings support the ideal conclusion of a Junior Ranger Walk – an empowered youth who has the skill and desire to engage meaningfully in public lands.

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