Research

  • The Benefits of Environmental Education for K-12 Students, Stanford University, 2019. A longitudinal study measuring the impacts of environmental education for K-12 students based on 119 peer-reviewed studies published over a 20-year period. It presents clear evidence that environmental education programs provide a variety of benefits, from improving academic performance, to enhancing critical thinking skills, to developing personal growth and life-building skills including confidence, autonomy, and leadership. In addition, a number of the studies showed that environmental education increased civic engagement and positive environmental behaviors. 
  • The Impact of Systems Thinking in K-12 Schools, Waters Foundation, 2017. Based on 20 years of research that sought to assess the benefits of systems thinking in classrooms and schools throughout the U.S. and abroad. Findings demonstrate that a systems thinking learning environment is motivating and engaging for even reluctant learners. Teachers reported that the visual nature of system thinking tools enables students to organize and express their thinking and should be nurtured throughout their education in order to maintain and further develop capacity to make connections, embrace the big picture, and share new insights into the systems they’re studying. 
  • The Benefits of Place-Based Stewardship Education, Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, 2017. This study reviews published research on place-based education, environment-based education, and other close cousins that feature multidisciplinary, experiential learning and meaningful service to the local community. The Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative is focused on place-based stewardship education, which can be described as place-based education with a focus on environmental stewardship.
  • A Blueprint for Environmental Literacy: Educating Every Student In, About, and For the Environment, produced by the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson’s statewide Environmental Literacy Task Force, 2015.
  • Texas Natural Resource / Environmental Literacy Plan, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 2013. Developed as a framework to coordinate statewide efforts of formal and informal educators to provide lifelong opportunities for all Texans, regardless of age, culture, and circumstances, to become stewards of natural resources. 
  • Evidence of Impact of Sustainable Schools, Department for Children, Schools and Families, United Kingdom, 2010. This publication sets out the educational and social benefits to young people of learning in a sustainable school.
  • Back to School: Back Outside! How Outdoor Education and Outdoor School Time Create High Performance Students, by Kevin J. Coyle, National Wildlife Federation. This report focuses on the importance of outdoor learning programs. This summary of available studies on the role of outdoor learning programs and play time in furthering children’s overall education highlights the benefits to lifelong learning skills, prospects for career success and school test scores. These studies show the danger of increasing indoor learning time and decreasing outdoor time.
  • Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning, by Dr. Gerald A. Lieberman and Linda L. Hoody. In addition to a thorough explanation of the basic concepts of EIC (environment as an integrating context for learning), this report documents the results of a study created by the State Education and Environment Roundtable to identify the most innovative and successful programs, describe their effectiveness, and analyze their commonalities and differences. This is a great resource for anybody interested in learning more about EIC and its benefits as well as anyone looking to learn from research on existing EIC methods and their impacts on the various realms of learning (math, science, language arts, thinking skills, etc.).
  • Environmental Literacy in the United States: An Agenda for Leadership in the 21st Century, National Environmental Education Foundation, 2015. The study focuses on the necessity to develop environmental literacy and looks at what we know today about the state of environmental knowledge in America, why we know what we do and how that knowledge is developed, as well as research on how educational programming affects students’ academic performance.

“Using the environment as an integrating context, I realized I could increase students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes/beliefs in STEM subjects while increasing their environmental literacy at the same time.”

Dr. Farah Vallera
Lehigh University Department of Teaching Learning and Technology
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