• Science Education In Rural America: Adaptations For The Ivory Tower

      Van Doren, Gregory S.; Duffy, Lawrence K. (2010)
      This thesis illustrated what can happen when academic culture disconnects from the cultures surrounding it. It showed that formal school environments are not always the best places to learn. A discussion of the debate between coherence and fragmentation learning theories illustrated academic chasms and a mindset that science education must originate from within ivory towers to be valued. Rationales for place-based science education were developed. Two National Science Foundation initiatives were compared and contrasted for relevance to Native Science education (a) Informal Science Education and (b) Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities. A National Science Foundation instrument, known as the Self-Assessment of Learning Gains, was selected to field-test measures of learning science outside of university science courses. Principles of chemistry were taught in community workshops, and those participant self-assessments were compared to self-assessments of students in introductory chemistry courses at two universities. University students consistently claimed the greatest learning gains, in the post-course survey, for the same areas that they claimed to have the greatest understanding, in the pre-course survey. The workshop participant responses differed, depending upon location of the learning environment. When held in a university laboratory, ideas were not related to other cultures, even when a Native Elder was present to describe those relationships. When held in a cultural center, those relationships were among the highest learning gains claimed. One of the instrument's greatest assets was the ability to measure reactions, level 4 of Bennett's (1976) hierarchy of evidence for program evaluation. A long-term commitment to informal science education (not short-term exhibits or programs), combined with negotiated place-based education was recommended as a crucially needed initiative, if relationships between universities and Native American communities are to improve. Some chasms created within ivory towers may never be bridged. Yet, those ideological chasms do not have to exist everywhere. The realities of working in the natural world and the practice of addressing multitudes of community challenges can alter perspectives, when horizons change from the edge of one's desk to those that meet the sea or sky.
    • Science education in rural America: adaptations for the Ivory Tower

      Van Doren, Gregory S. (2010-08)
      This thesis illustrated what can happen when academic culture disconnects from the cultures surrounding it. It showed that formal school environments are not always the best places to learn. A discussion of the debate between coherence and fragmentation learning theories illustrated academic chasms and a mindset that science education must originate from within ivory towers to be valued. Rationales for place-based science education were developed. Two National Science Foundation initiatives were compared and contrasted for relevance to Native Science education (a) Informal Science Education and (b) Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities. A National Science Foundation instrument, known as the Self-Assessment of Learning Gains, was selected to field-test measures of learning science outside of university science courses. Principles of chemistry were taught in community workshops, and those participant self-assessments were compared to self-assessments of students in introductory chemistry courses at two universities. University students consistently claimed the greatest learning gains, in the post-course survey, for the same areas that they claimed to have the greatest understanding, in the pre-course survey. The workshop participant responses differed, depending upon location of the learning environment. When held in a university laboratory, ideas were not related to other cultures, even when a Native Elder was present to describe those relationships. When held in a cultural center, those relationships were among the highest learning gains claimed. One of the instrument's greatest assets was the ability to measure reactions, level 4 of Bennett's (1976) hierarchy of evidence for program evaluation. A long-term commitment to informal science education (not short-term exhibits or programs), combined with negotiated place-based education was recommended as a crucially needed initiative, if relationships between universities and Native American communities are to improve. Some chasms created within ivory towers may never be bridged. Yet, those ideological chasms do not have to exist everywhere. The realities of working in the natural world and the practice of addressing multitudes of community challenges can alter perspectives, when horizons change from the edge of one's desk to those that meet the sea or sky.