the Environment as an Integrating Context for learning (EIC), defines
a framework for education: a framework for interdisciplinary, collaborative,
student-centered, hands-on, and engaged learning. EIC, a term coined
by the State Education and Environment Roundtable, encompasses the educational
practices that the group believes should form the foundation of environment-based
education in America's schools. This framework has begun to transform
curricula in a growing number of schools across the United States and
may have the potential to significantly improve K-12 education in America.
report, prepared by the State Education and Environment Roundtable,
is the story of the schools, teachers, and students who are involved
in implementing EIC. It presents the results of a nationwide study;
and describes the major concepts and assumptions underlying EIC; describes
a range of successful EIC-based programs across the United States; identifies
the major characteristics of successful EIC programs; and, analyzes
the implications of EIC-based education for student learning and instruction.
learning is not primarily focused on learning about the environment,
nor is it limited to developing environmental awareness. It is about
using a school's surroundings and community as a framework within which
students can construct their own learning, guided by teachers and administrators
using proven educational practices. EIC-based programs typically employ
the environment as a comprehensive focus and framework for learning
in all areas: general and disciplinary knowledge; thinking and problem-solving
skills; basic life skills, such as cooperation and interpersonal communications;
and, last but not least, understanding of one's relationship to the
environment - community and natural surroundings.
the Achievement Gap" reports the evidence gathered from the study of
the 40 selected schools, indicates that students learn more effectively
within an environment-based context than within a traditional educational
framework. This evidence comes from site visits, interviews, survey
results, and gains on both standardized test scores and GPAs.
observed benefits of EIC-based programs are both broad ranging and encouraging.
- better performance
on standardized measures of academic achievement in reading, writing,
math, science, and social studies;
- reduced discipline
and classroom management problems;
engagement and enthusiasm for learning; and,
- greater pride
and ownership in accomplishments.
providing a comprehensive educational framework, instead of traditional
compartmentalized approaches, EIC significantly improves student performance
throughout the curriculum and enriches the overall school experience.