Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rose, Amy D.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Environmental education--Middle West; Teachers--Middle West--Attitudes


Following the environmental awakening of the last third of the twentieth century, anchored by the enactment of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, education, and its frontline providers—teachers—were expected to become the dominant engines for realizing the new ideal of an environmentally literate populace. In reality, no such change has yet occurred despite continuous efforts from a variety of governmental and nongovernmental entities. A review of the literature revealed that there was something missing in research on the preparation of teachers for environmental education. There did not appear to be any research into why teachers who embrace the idea of environmental education as a fundamental part of education do so in the first place. In this study, described as basic qualitative research, I used a multiple-session interview technique to explore, in depth, the life experiences of the phenomenon I refer to as “an exemplary K-12 environmental educator.” The pool of potential participants was composed of environmental education award winners from several states in the upper Midwest. Ten teachers were recruited from the available pool. Among these 10 were represented both genders, teaching in grades ranging from grade 2 through grade 12. The results of this study provide a look into a complex set of interactions which were eventually manifested as the phenomenon of interest. Highlights of the findings indicate that 1) a strong connection to the environment was developed early in life, 2) this connection was the result of experiences shared in the outdoors with significant others, 3) a love of learning and self-directedness are both integral to who these individuals are, 4) the study participants, as K-12 educators, draw heavily from the support of relevant professional associations. Implications for the continuing professional education of teachers in environmental education are that more emphasis is needed on awareness and affect as components of new continuing professional education offerings that more fully employ transformational and constructivist learning strategies. The influences of work context and the collegial and personal support of professional organizations are also keys to broadening the practitioner base in K-12 environmental education.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [217]-226).


xv, 237 pages




Northern Illinois University

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