Improving the urban youth experience in outdoor science education through improved teacher training techniques
Baron, Shauna Lee
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This research describes the needs assessment phase for the promotion of a new training module for the Yellowstone Association Institute. This assessment explores how a new training module for teaching urban youth groups and underserved youth groups could create more effective instructors. In order to identify best practices for teaching to this demographic, five instruments were employed to survey and interview administrators, instructor staff and leading experts in this field. The literature review revealed that students achieve more when provided with a safe learning environment where they are valued as individuals, and where the teaching methods employed are student centered. The literature supports that students often become more confident, respectful and excited about science when allowed to learn and explore in an outdoor setting. The literature suggests that students will build a strong connection to nature only if they are provided with opportunities to develop their own sense of place within that new environment. The research gathered in this needs assessment suggests that a successful training module is one which promotes a culture of caring and respect, teaches instructors cultural awareness and develops their cultural competence. It should encourage effective communication and provide practical advice for successfully identifying and meeting the educational needs of urban youth and underserved youth, learning in an outdoor setting.