Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Becoming birds: community scientists, place, and critical socio-ecoliteracy Public Deposited

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  • Community science (also called citizen science) has become an increasingly popular data collection technique for scientists researching nature at a large scale. Many ecologists have also looked to community science as a method for educating the public about science. Over the past several decades, researchers have attempted to define an ecoliteracy framework, frequently centered on ecological concepts and science competencies. Unfortunately, few ecoliteracy studies discuss socioecological values (e.g. respect for others) as a main component of ecoliteracy. Because of this, tools for measuring ecoliteracy focus on concepts and competencies associated with specific community science projects. There is currently no agreed upon framework for or definition of ecoliteracy. Proposed ecoliteracy frameworks, as with most science, are rooted in colonial/western epistemologies and ontologies. To address this, this exploratory study is divided into three manuscripts: Manuscript 1) explores ecoliteracy in Oregon avian community scientists. To do this, I used the Pitman and Daniels (2016) ecoliteracy tool designed to explore ecoliteracy, in the context of south Australian and global ecosystems, among environmental professionals. In this study, I modified the Pitman and Daniels (2016) tool to represent Oregon ecosystems. Manuscript 2) using four ecoliteracy frameworks, Critical Pedagogy of Place (CPP), and Critical Indigenous Pedagogies of Place (CIPP), I further modified the Pitman and Daniels (2016) ecoliteracy tool to reflect a critical socio-ecoliteracy framework (CSEF). This included the addition of sense of place, nature connectedness, and open-ended questions about ecological knowledge, ecosystem descriptions, ecosystem change, and bird community changes. From these data, I developed a CSEF that provides an understanding of ecoliteracy grounded in CPP/CIPP, centering on self, construct, and place. These components are joined in relationship with one another, connected by relationships, epistemology, and land (as pedagogy). Manuscript 3) with this CSEF I used open-ended questions about fire ecology and fire ecology scores from the ecoliteracy tool to explore birder fire ecoliteracy. The CSEF provided an understanding of the factors that influence birder fire ecoliteracy and beliefs about fire. This modified tool was effective in measuring ecoliteracy among Oregon avian community scientists. Though, they demonstrated a lower ecoliteracy than environmental professionals in Australia. Findings from this study demonstrate that participation in community science can increase ecological knowledge, although education (regardless of education level), may play a greater role. Another interesting aspect of this study is the clear connection between ‘becoming birds,’ place, ecoliteracy, and this CSEF. This is particularly the case when analyzing the qualitative data.
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