Constructing Media Artifacts in a Social Constructivist Environment to Enhance Students’ Environmental Awareness and Activism

Engin Karahan, Gillian Roehrig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Current science education reforms and policy documents highlight the importance of environmental awareness and perceived need for activism. As “environmental problems are socially constructed in terms of their conceptualized effects on individuals, groups, other living things and systems research based on constructivist principles provides not only a coherent framework in which to theorize about learning, but also a context for understanding socially constructed issues” (Palmer and Suggate in Res Pap Educ 19(2), 2004, p. 208). This research study investigated the impacts of the learning processes structured based on the theories of constructionism and social constructivism on students’ environmental awareness and perceived need for activism. Students constructed multimedia artifacts expressing their knowledge, attitudes, awareness, and activism about environmental issues through a constructionist design process. In addition, a social networking site was designed and used to promote social interaction among students. Twenty-two high school environmental science students participated in this study. A convergent mixed methods design was implemented to allow for the triangulation of methods by directly comparing and contrasting quantitative results with qualitative findings for corroboration and validation purposes. Using a mixed method approach, quantitative findings are supported with qualitative data (student video projects, writing prompts, blog entries, video projects of the students, observational field notes, and reflective journals) including spontaneous responses in both synchronous and asynchronous conversations on the social network to provide a better understanding of the change in students’ environmental awareness and perceived need for activism. The findings of the study indicated that students’ environmental awareness and perceived need for activism were improved at different scales (personal, community, global) throughout the constructionist and social constructivist learning processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-118
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Science Education and Technology
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Keywords

  • Constructionism
  • Environmental awareness and activism
  • Media design
  • Social constructivism
  • Social networks

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