Education and the Environment Book

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The EIC Model™
Environment as an Integrating Context for improving student learning

History of SEER and The EIC Model™
     In 1995, a group of twelve states' departments of education, with the support of The Pew Charitable Trusts, joined together to found the State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER). These agencies created SEER with the intention of constructing strategies to strengthen student achievement in academic content standards by using high quality environmental education (EE) as a centerpiece for classroom instruction.
    
In late 1995, at SEER's first gathering, in light of the growing national movement for state education standards, participants discussed the potential role of EE in helping students to succeed academically. SEER's state department of education members identified research into the educational efficacy of EE as the highest priority for the staff. The initial goal of this endeavor was to identify and analyze existing research studies that might inform SEER's members. Staff began to gather and analyze available research from around the world.
     This literature search revealed that general education research held little evidence relevant to determining the educational efficacy of
environmental education. Furthermore, although there is a great deal of research on traditional EE, it has been primarily concerned with assessing the development of environmental skills, knowledge, and behavior. It provides little insight into effects on the overall educational experience of students.This research was documented in a report titled "The Educational Efficacy of Environmental Education"ť (Hoody, 1996).
     Lacking sufficient data in the research literature, SEER designed a study to focus on one specific topic: the effects on learning and instruction of incorporating EE into K-12 school programs.
SEER's state agency members and other educators identified potential schools for the study. The principal criteria for inclusion were: degree of integration of the environment across the curriculum; student involvement in projects and problem-solving; extent of team teaching; and, program longevity. The research team also considered such demographic and socio-economic factors as school setting (urban or rural), population of the area, and income levels in the community. Ultimately, 40 schools in 13 states were identified as meeting a specific set of criteria and included in this study.
     The research team had four major objectives in studying these programs:
• compile data on the effects on students and achievement in reading, writing, math, science and social studies, and on teachers and instruction;
• to describe their common features;
• to identify the "best practices"ť that characterize their pedagogies; and
• to examine the factors that led to their success or challenged them.

     SEER's research team visited each of the schools where they: observed classes; interviewed more than 250 teachers and administrators, more than 400 students, and, in some cases, parents and alumni; and, gathered samples of curricular materials, student work and, where possible, the results of any comparative analyses of academic achievement that the schools had completed. The schools included in this study represented a geographical and socio-economic cross-section of America: from urban Los Angeles to Maryland's Eastern Shore; from Iowa's Corn Belt to the hillsides of central Pennsylvania; from Kentucky's Appalachian Mountains to Florida's panhandle.
     The results of the research into these 40 schools were reported in Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning (Lieberman and Hoody, 1998). It was this three-year investigation that formed the basis for the development of the EIC Model™.
     Starting in late 1998, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, SEER staff and members began the development of a process for helping schools undertake to initiate their own EIC Model™ programs. Since then, teachers and administrators from over 700 schools and districts have participated in SEER's EIC Model™ Implementation Institutes. Of that group, approximately 200 schools had the opportunity to participate in SEER's national network of EIC Model™ demonstration schools, they received one to five years of technical support and were evaluated using SEER's EIC Model™ evaluation framework.

rainbarState Education and Environment Roundtable
13648 Jackrabbit Road
Poway, California 92064
Telephone: (858) 676-0272
Fax: (508) 462-8331

Founding Sponsor The Pew Charitable Trusts 

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Last update 5/1/2014