The Forest Field Program : a case study in forest education for Latino youth Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/sn00b3020

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  • This study involved the development of two bilingual and inquiry-based forest education programs within the Central Willamette Valley of Oregon. The first program used the participatory research (PR) process to engage 7th and 8th grade Latino students as participatory researchers to interview members of their community to learn their perspectives on forestry professions. Students developed a bilingual questionnaire and were trained in interview techniques. Results from the PR process indicated that Latinos had an interest in working in the forest to learn more about forest plants, animals, and ecology while being outdoors. These results informed the development of the second program, the Forest Field Program (FFP). The FFP lasted an academic year and enabled students to work collaboratively in designing and implementing their own observational study of the forest. Students were guided through the collaborative inquiry process to develop research questions and a hypothesis, design research methods and materials, conduct data collection and analysis, and present their findings. Participants also learned about four different forestry professions. The FFP was evaluated using pre/post questionnaires and tests as well as summative interviews with program completers as well as a small sub-sample of parents, teachers, program staff, and dropouts. Results from the FFP evaluation indicated that the program facilitated an overall significant (p=0.01) increase in students’ awareness of forestry professions and an improvement in their inquiry skills. There was partial evidence from the evaluation to suggest that the FFP facilitated an increase in students’ collaboration skills as well as their self-efficacy of inquiry and collaboration skills. Meanwhile, little evidence suggested that the Forest Field Program increased students’ interest in forestry professions. Effective program components included hands on, inquiry-based, and collaborative activities. Future studies might examine strategies for lowering attrition rates and include an experimental control group in study design.
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