Connecting outdoor field experiences to classroom learning: A qualitative study of the participation of students and teachers in learning science

Kimberly Lebak, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This dissertation focuses on improving the teaching and learning of science for teachers and students participating in outdoor field trips. Participants in this research included three classroom teachers, their students, and me as a teacher-researcher. The research was situated in the science classroom of three teachers representing schools with diverse socioeconomic factors and diverse student populations and The Outdoor Classroom, an informal learning center. This study aims to address fundamental questions regarding science learning in an informal setting. Through this dissertation, I examine how the activity structures at an informal learning center support or contradict the classroom activity structure. This study also examines how cogenerative dialogues (Roth & Tobin, 2002) between instructional stakeholders can serve as a catalyst to change structures in order to maximize the potential learning opportunities at informal learning centers. Specifically, the following questions guide this study: (1) How does the activity structure at the informal learning center support or contradict the classroom activity structure? (2) How do teacher-student interactions contribute to student participation and learning? (3) How do differences between a classroom teacher's values and my values as a teacher at the informal learning center create contradictions for participants (teachers and students)? (4) How do cogenerative dialogues among participants afford changes in roles and practices of participants? The frameworks of cultural sociology (Sewell, 1999), sociology of emotions (Collins, 2004), cogenerative dialogue, and informal learning guided this study. Multiple data sources including field notes, transcribed audiotapes, interviews, and cogenerative dialogues were used to elicit and support findings. This research provides evidence of the ways the informal learning field is shaped by participating teachers' and students' cultural, historical, and social factors and how these factors create borders for the participation and learning of science at The Outdoor Classroom. Cogenerative dialogues (Roth & Tobin, 2002) served as a means to raise these issues with all instructional stakeholders and in turn transform structures, recognizing the important role of the coteacher.

Subject Area

Science education|Curricula|Teaching

Recommended Citation

Lebak, Kimberly, "Connecting outdoor field experiences to classroom learning: A qualitative study of the participation of students and teachers in learning science" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3168031.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3168031

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