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  1. 1. Running Head: MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT Meaningful Engagement: Connecting with Participants Upon Conclusion of the Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academy Renee L. Strnad Lesley University December 9, 2014 EINTD 7007
  2. 2. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 2 Abstract Opportunities to extend engagement with participants of the North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academy were investigated through the process of action research. Specifically, key principles of well-designed professional development were used as a framework throughout the research process. The Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academy (SFTA) is a five day, four-night residential program for approximately 70 teachers. Held annually, the SFTA addresses forest industry connections to social, economic, environmental issues and conditions across the state. Surveys, using a mixed-method of data collection, were distributed to past teacher participants and summer forestry teacher program providers. Additionally, a focus group comprised of ten North Carolina teachers honed the professional development value of the SFTA. The results of this study suggest some actions to extend engagement with SFTA participants include the use of an email list-serve, the creation of an Edmodo site, promoting an ambassador program for past participants, and hosting an alumni gathering. These actions will raise the professional development value of the SFTA through continued facilitator engagement with participants and increase teacher communication around forestry education in the classroom.
  3. 3. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 3 Table of Contents Introduction......................................................................................................................... 4 The North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Teachers' Academy....................................... 4 Problem Statement and Rational......................................................................................... 6 Research Question .......................................................................................................... 7 Project Importance: Internal and External...................................................................... 7 Literature Review.............................................................................................................. 10 Methodology..................................................................................................................... 16 Participants.................................................................................................................... 17 Co-researchers....................................................................................................... 18 Additional Assistance ........................................................................................... 18 Data Collection and Analysis....................................................................................... 19 Findings............................................................................................................................. 24 Validity and Ethics........................................................................................................ 26 Implementation ................................................................................................................. 29 Presentation of Data ..................................................................................................... 31 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 32 References......................................................................................................................... 34 Appendix A. Teacher Forestry Education Program Providers ......................................... 39 Appendix B. 2014 SFTA Post-Academy Evaluation ....................................................... 41 Appendix C. Teacher Forestry Education Program Providers Survey ............................. 47 Appendix D. Focus Group Data Visualization ................................................................. 59
  4. 4. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 4 Introduction My work as the Environmental Educator for Extension Forestry at North Carolina State University provides me the opportunity to work directly with teachers. One of the programs I coordinate at the state level is Project Learning Tree® . Project Learning Tree (PLT) is a non- profit environmental organization dedicated to teachers and other educators including parents and community leaders. The base of the program is environmental education curricula for preschool through grade 12. As the PLT state coordinator, I conduct professional development workshops for teachers and others interested in using the PLT materials. PLT has also been my gateway into state and regional conferences for science and social studies teachers, as well as college pre-service teacher programs. In my 14 years of work with PLT, I have learned that teachers desire knowledge that will help enrich their students’ learning experiences. Additionally, a majority of the teachers I work with do not want to learn this information through lectures and PowerPoint presentations. Experiential educational opportunities provide the educational setting where teachers purposefully engage in direct experiences in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values and develop the capacity to contribute to their community or classroom (AEE, 2014). These rich learning experiences for teachers also model ways to transfer the learning experiences back to the classroom. The North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academy The North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academy (formerly the North Carolina Teachers’ Tour) began as a partnership between the Temperate Forest Foundation and the North Carolina Forestry Association in 1999. Both of these organizations desired to educate citizens about the vital role that forests, trees, and wood products play in supporting human
  5. 5. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 5 population and the quality of life. The organizations are also similar in their promotion of healthy forest ecosystems and responsible use of forests. In 2001, the program transferred to North Carolina partners, becoming a program developed and facilitated by the North Carolina Forestry Association and the North Carolina State University Forestry and Environmental Outreach Program. The North Carolina partners agreed to continue to promote the program goals of understanding the complexities of forest management for a healthy environment, a range of social benefits, and a strong economy. The North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academy (SFTA) is currently structured as a five day, four-night residential program. One program is located in North Carolina’s Coastal Plain, the other in the mountains of North Carolina. Approximately 70 teachers attend the program annually. The SFTA addresses forest industry connections to social, economic, environmental issues and conditions across the state. Teachers are introduced to these concepts through a variety of activities, speakers, and field experiences. Throughout the week, numerous resources are provided to help teachers incorporate their new knowledge into the classroom. I attended the Mountain SFTA as a participant in 2005, and the Coastal SFTA in 2006. Upon the conclusion of the 2006 program, I became a member of the facilitator team alongside Dr. Susan Moore, Director of the North Carolina State University Forestry and Environmental Outreach Program, and Jennifer Grantham, then Director of Education for the North Carolina Forestry Association. As the Environmental Educator for North Carolina State University Extension Forestry and the State Coordinator of Project Learning Tree® , I was able to provide valuable resources and North Carolina K-12 curriculum knowledge to the team.
  6. 6. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 6 Through our work together, the program expanded in 2007 to incorporate a PLT workshop, an expanded resource notebook and supplemental CD-ROM, explicit time to discuss curriculum ties in grade level groups, and learning objectives for each SFTA activity. Another program update to increase the professional development value of the program included changing the name of the program from Tour to Academy. Problem Statement and Rationale Professional development programs should provide educators with content knowledge and opportunities to experience their own learning, especially if they will be facilitating similar inquiry-based experiences for students in the classroom (Jeanpierre, Oberhauser, & Freeman, 2005). I am of the opinion that the SFTA has always accomplished this goal with the variety of activities and learning experiences provided to teachers during the program. Many teacher professional development programs focus on increasing teacher content knowledge, but lack clear emphasis on how teachers can translate the new knowledge into the classroom (Loucks-Horsley, Stiles, Mundry, Love, & Hewson, 2010, p. 40). One way to address this shortcoming is to model how to apply new knowledge to practice as we currently do during the SFTA. Another is through continue engagement with teachers and supporting them as they translate their new content knowledge into practice. Upon the conclusion of the SFTA, we have no system in place providing continued engagement with participants to determine how they are using the information in their classrooms, or for teachers to share with each other. Action research is a systematic inquiry to gather information to gain insight and effect positive changes on educational practices (Mills, 2011, p.5). For this project, I used the process of action research to discover methods of extending engagement with participants upon the conclusion of the SFTA.
  7. 7. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 7 Research Question Seven years after program modification, the SFTA facilitator team began evaluating how to adapt and update the SFTA to remain in alignment with current educational trends and educator needs. A survey completed by 215 past participants in the fall of 2013 revealed that 85% of the participants would like some type of additional forest education opportunities including another academy, one-day workshops, webinars, content specific web site, a blog, or classroom visits (Moore, Grantham, & Strnad, 2013). Additionally, despite annual formal participant evaluation, I also wondered what teachers in North Carolina consider valuable to their professional development in relation to our Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academies. Currently, we do not have meaningful contact with participants upon conclusion of the academy. I believe that teachers will have greater success implementing forestry topics into their classroom if there is a way to continue forestry education related conversations in formal and informal settings, and with program facilitators and other teacher participants. The purpose of my research is to determine ways to create meaningful engagement activities for teachers that have attended our program. This desire has led to my action research question and sub-question:  How can I create a meaningful continued engagement experience for teachers from across North Carolina attending our annual Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academy? o How do other extended forestry education program connect with teachers after their events? Project Importance: Internal and External I am passionate about the SFTA because of the content and the quality of the program. I believe forestry practices today are often viewed through a historical lens when overharvesting of trees and land degradation was an industry norm. Today, there are stricter regulations on
  8. 8. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 8 forestry practices that protect soils, water quality, and habitat. Trees are important components of our communities and ecosystems, but also provide us with many resources. Healthy forests are important for numerous ecosystem services that are fundamental to human health including air quality, water quality, and carbon sequestration (USDA, 2013). Forests are vital for plant and animal diversity. Uhl (2013) writes: The mistaken belief that Earth is simply here to serve as a supply house for human needs leads us to see the forest as a “woodlot” and the stream as a “hydropower generator”; but of course, the forest and streams, first and foremost, serve as homes for other species. (p. 95, emphasis original) Human and natural systems are intertwined through forests, and the SFTA helps teachers begin to see the connections that are often overlooked. A majority of the teachers I have met through the SFTA do not have a background in forestry, yet they are required to teach forestry concepts as part of their North Carolina curricular objectives. I speculate that this lack of forestry knowledge is true for teachers throughout the state. For me, it is exciting to increase teacher understanding of the complicated topic of forests, forest use, and forest management. SFTA provides a variety of activities to increase teacher knowledge, but as a facilitator I help them construct new meanings of what forestry is, the importance of forestry to the history of North Carolina, the state’s economy, and to our environmental health. I believe the SFTA is important to North Carolina teachers because we provide a no-cost opportunity to receive professional development, focusing on content knowledge that many teachers lack. Teachers within the state must obtain 7.5 licensure renewal credits through professional development activities ever five years, and the SFTA provides a minimum of 2.5
  9. 9. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 9 continuing education credits (Licensure, n.d.). Additionally, many researchers agree a key aspect for professional develop is a focus on subject content knowledge, and the SFTA meets this goal. Borko (2004, pg. 5) stresses that “teachers must have a ‘rich and flexible’ knowledge” of the subjects they teach in order to foster students’ understandings. These types of learning experiences provide teachers with the knowledge they need to help connect ideas, answer questions, and facilitate similar learning experiences within their classrooms (Jeanpierre et al, 2005; Darling-Hammond, Wei, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009; Capps, Crawford, & Constas, 2012; Capps & Crawford, 2013). The SFTA provides this type of professional development learning experience through a variety of activities. Furthermore, the SFTA focuses on communicating system dynamics, which is included as one of seven crosscutting concepts in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS, 2013). This concept challenges teachers, and their students, to discover how core scientific knowledge crosses disciplinary boundaries. The NGSS states it is important to question and discover the interactions that occur within a system, as well as begin to comprehend assumptions and approximations when we investigate models of systems. Meadows (2008) reminds us that real world systems can be surprising because of three truths: 1. Everything we think we know about the world is a model, 2. Our models usually have a strong congruence with the world, 3. Our models fall short of representing the world fully (p.86). In order for teachers to help their students understand the complexities of systems, they must begin to understand system characteristics. Additionally, studying systems helps us recognize system structures, leading to an understanding of not only what is happening but why (Meadows, 2008, p. 89, emphasis original). I allege that immersive, experiential activities like the SFTA can
  10. 10. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 10 help build these understandings and provide teachers the knowledge they need to educate their students, and thereby creating future generations that are more aware of human-Earth interactions. Lastly, the SFTA challenges teachers to recognize multiple sides of environmental issues and use critical thinking skills, which I believe are crucial for future voters and natural resource managers. It is imperative that we provide educators with correct and balanced information about forest management and forest resources. During the SFTA, we challenge teachers to recognize multiple sides of environmental issues and use critical thinking skills to build new understandings to take back into the classroom. The information classroom teachers share with their students could spark interest to explore local forest-related issues, pursue education in forestry, or natural resources management. I recognize the number of students pursuing natural resource advanced education degrees could be low. Therefore, I also consider the forestry information that students receive in their K-12 education highly important because it could be the summation of the formal education they receive on the topic. Literature Review The goal of the SFTA is to increase K-12 teachers’ knowledge about our state’s forest resources and industry so they can transfer this information to their students. In this literature review, I examine effective professional development for teachers. The information learned about effective professional development helped frame my action research by examining the program’s professional development strengths and weaknesses. The definition of professional development (PD) is as broad as the activities characterized as PD. Desimone (2009) reminds us that teachers take part in PD on a daily basis, ranging from workshops during in-service days to informal hallway discussion with peers. A
  11. 11. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 11 crucial piece that researchers agree upon is that teacher PD is key to improving student learning, and understanding the effectiveness of professional development is critical (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009; Tournaki, Lyublinskaya, & Carolan, 2011; Desimone, 2011). In the 2009 report Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad, the authors outline four key principles for designing PD: 1. Professional development should be intensive, ongoing, and connected to practice; 2. Professional development should focus on student learning and address the teaching of specific curriculum content; 3. Professional development should align with school improvement priorities and goals; 4. Professional development should build strong working relationships among teachers (Darling-Hammond et al., pp. 9-11). Similarly, Desimone (2009, 2011) outlines five core features of effective professional development: content focus, active learning, coherence, duration, and collective participation. There are clearly overlaps between these two models, however Desimone adds active learning to her model, stressing the importance of teacher involvement in their own PD. Additionally, she emphasizes the duration of PD by topic should be 20 or more hours annually. For this project, I am focusing on the four key principles of PD outlined by Darling- Hammond, Wei, Andree, Richardson, and Orphanos (2009) and how they relate to the SFTA. The first principle states that PD should be intensive, ongoing, and connected to practice. Darling-Hammond et al. (2009) discovered teachers were engaging in professional development within their academic areas, but the time spent on this form of PD was less than 16 hours annually, with only 23% percent reporting more than four days of PD on the content in subjects
  12. 12. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 12 taught. Results of national study of mathematics and science teachers determined that time span and number of contact hours were important measures of effective PD (Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman & Yoon, 2001). As previously mentioned, Desimone (2009) does not believe that research “has indicated a ‘tipping point’ for the duration of effective professional development” (p.184) but it does show support for activities that total 20 hours or more. However, research supports the notion that effective professional development programs provide teachers additional PD opportunities after the initial program or training (Penuel, Fishman, Yamaguchi, & Gallagher, 2007; Capps, et al., 2012). The SFTA currently offers 20-25 hours of professional development in the weeklong meeting, but lacks a program component after the teachers have completed the program. The addition of a post-academy engagement activity could help meet SFTA goals of increased forestry education in classrooms across the state. The second principle of effective PD focuses on student learning and addresses the teaching of specific curriculum content. Effective PD focuses on increasing teachers’ knowledge and skills in relation to curricular content, going beyond workshops focusing on classroom management or administrative issues. Many researchers agree the key is focusing on subject content knowledge, and SFTA meets this goal with content focusing on forestry issues from seedling to final products. To foster students’ understandings, teachers must have a breadth and depth of knowledge regarding the subject matter being taught (Borko, 2004). These types of learning experiences provide teachers with the knowledge they need to help connect ideas, answer questions, and facilitate similar learning experiences within their classrooms (Jeanpierre, et al., 2005; Darling-Hammond et al., 2009; Capps, et al., 2012; Capps & Crawford, 2013). Desimone (2009) states:
  13. 13. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 13 The content focus of teacher learning may be the most influential feature. A compilation of evidence in the past decade points to the link between activities that focus on subject matter content and how students learn that content with increases in teacher knowledge and skills, improvements in practice, and, to a more limited extent, increases in student achievement. (p. 184) As facilitators, we constantly review state curriculum objectives, ensuring we are meeting the content needs of teachers. This information is shared with teachers throughout the week. According to Darling-Hammond et al. (2009), research also suggests PD is most effective when it addresses specific academic subject matter. Findings from a study conducted by Penuel et al. (2007) regarding teacher use of the GLOBE program suggests that curriculum alignment is important, but teachers’ judgments about the alignment of the program with their personal goals for student learning is more important. Information presented during the SFTA addresses curriculum objectives outlined by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Standard Course of Study. Science courses provide obvious connections, however a number of learning opportunities also link to social studies and mathematic standards as well. The third principal of effective PD as outlined by Darling-Hammond et al. (2009) is a reminder that PD should align with school improvement priorities and goals. Professional development activities are less effective if they are isolated events and not in alignment with other school reforms. If teachers see PD as relevant to their everyday work in the classroom, they are more likely to try new curriculum and teaching methods (Capps et al, 2012). The use of learning objectives and distribution of curriculum correlated to curricular goals promotes the relevancy of the SFTA.
  14. 14. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 14 The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction released a school improvement guide in September 2013. This guide lists five principles for school improvement: 1. NC public schools will produce globally competitive students; 2. NC public schools will be led by 21st Century professionals; 3. NC public school students will be healthy and responsible; 4. Leadership will guide innovation in NC public schools; 5. NC public schools will be governed and supported by 21st Century systems (Public Schools of North Carolina, 2013). The SFTA does help address some of these goals, especially those related to classroom teachers. Teachers begin to understand the “interconnectedness of the world”, relationships with the environment, and the use of natural resources on a global scale during the SFTA (Public Schools of North Carolina, 2013, p. 48). Other ties to North Carolina school improvement include promoting a culture of life-long learning, providing information to help students make responsible choices, and introducing opportunities to collaborate with high education institutions to provide educational opportunities for students. The last key PD principle from Darling-Hammond et al. (2009) relates to teacher working relationships and collaboration. Throughout the literature there are many recommendations regarding the benefits of teachers working together and learning from each other. The teaching profession in the United States struggles with developing professional collaboration because teachers work alone and are given little time together to plan lessons, share practices, assess students, and other administrative decisions (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009, p. 11). Effective PD programs offering content knowledge and providing time for teachers to interact can facilitate improved teacher efficacy (Lakshmanan, Heath, Perlmutter, & Elder, 2011). Providing
  15. 15. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 15 time during PD for teachers to discuss implementation should be an essential feature of effective PD (Capps et al., 2012). Desimone (2009) refers to this as collective participation, which can take place between teachers from the same school, grade, or department. During the SFTA, we do provide time for teachers to come together in grade-based cohorts to discuss ideas for the implementation of the knowledge and materials provided during the week. This does help remove an isolation factor that some teachers may feel if they are not attending PD with others from their school. However, at the conclusion of SFTA, we do not have a method to help facilitate these continuing conversation and collaborations. The SFTA provides effective PD addressing the forest-related content needs of teachers in North Carolina, however, it could be improved to reflect best practices. The information provided closely aligns to course content teachers are required to present in their classrooms and is congruent with school improvement policies and goals. However, the areas of effective PD presented by Darling-Hammond et al. (2009) I find lacking during the SFTA are key principles 1 and 4: PD should be ongoing and PD should build strong working relationships. Tournaki et al. (2011) remind us that even long-term effective PD programs might not have a positive effect on all areas of practice. However, I consider key principles 1 and 4 closely linked, and therefore an area for improvement in our program. Throughout the PD research body, there is consensus on the elements of effective professional development programs. However, the challenge is how to design and implement a program that addresses these principles (Loucks-Horsley et al., 2010). Additionally, there are many ways to provide extended support upon the completion of a PD activity including classroom visits, reunions, chat groups, discussion boards, job-embedded activities, and virtual meetings (Capps et al., 2012; Marrongella, Sztjn, & Smith, 2013). My action research project
  16. 16. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 16 helped me determine the best type of extended engagement with teachers upon the completion of the SFTA, thereby creating a more effective PD program. Methodology As a facilitator of the SFTA, I believe that we provide a valuable professional development opportunity for teachers. However, our program lacks a component of extended engagement. Adding an extended engagement component has been discussed, but as facilitators we were unsure what types of activities teachers would find valuable. Finding answers through action research allows practitioners to seek change by reflecting on their practice (Dana, 2013, p.2). I was also curious if other similar programs across the United States included post-program engagement and included an investigation of other programs into my action research project. Action research encourages practitioners to move away from linear ideas of causality, and promotes thinking about multiple forces interweaving for causation (Bradbury, 2003). The action research process allowed freedom to explore multiple avenues and wonderings about the SFTA and extended engagement through a systematic process. Action research requires the personal study of your teaching practice to improve the quality and results. Schmuck (2006) encourages the action researcher to move away from intelligent assessments of where you are at present as a practitioner, and use reflection on past and future strategies to realize the change you seek; action research can be empowering (p. 28). This has been especially important this year as we faced program changes beyond our control and the action research process allowed me to focus on the positive educational changes we wanted to make to the program. Action research correlates well with ecological teaching and learning. Reason and Bradbury (2006) remind us that the process of action research is a way of being and doing in the world. Action research is a way to inform our practices, but allows the practitioner to respond
  17. 17. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 17 creatively. Bringing research and action together allows us to understand the complexity of whole situation, and act upon learned insights. Action research is based on a participatory worldview, bringing people together to pursue solutions that will help people and communities flourish (Reason & Bradbury, 2006). I do hope that my action research project improves the SFTA, teacher experiences, and the knowledge gained by students. I also think that the ideas and information I discoved will be beneficial for others providing similar programs. Participants The participants in my action research project are comprised of three distinct groups of educators. The first group included 56 North Carolina teachers that attended our 2014 summer program. The 2014 participants included 17 elementary teachers (grades k-5), 22 middle school teachers (grades 6-8), 11 high school teachers (grades 9-12), two college-based instructors, and four teachers that reach across multiple grade divisions. Participation in the 2014 program was lower than our annual average due to lodging constraints in one location. The second group of educators included 17 program providers across the United States. (Appendix A). These educators are located within universities, non-governmental state forestry associations, and state governmental forestry agencies. Dovetail Partners (2013), a non-profit organization providing forestry educational information, lists the states providing summer professional development programs focusing on forestry education for classroom teachers. These program providers lead summer professional development programs similar to our Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academies in their home states. I know the programs are similar to the North Carolina program from past conversations with program facilitators, through internet research, or email communication with program facilitators for this project.
  18. 18. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 18 The third group of educators included in my project involved ten North Carolina teachers that attended a focus group held on October 13, 2014. These teachers responded to an email invitation sent to 22 teachers that had previously attended at least one of our academies, expressed interest in a Piedmont Academy on previous surveys, and lived within two hours of our meeting location in Chatham County, North Carolina. My co-researchers and I strived for a mix of grade levels at the focus group, and our final breakdown included three elementary teachers, four middle school teachers, and three high school teachers. The focus group has a total of 132 years of teaching experience, with the range from 8-20 years in the classroom. All participants were given a $100 stipend for their participation, and lunch and refreshments were also provided. Co-researchers. Dr. Susan Moore, Director of the North Carolina State University Forestry and Environmental Outreach Program, and Jennifer Grantham, Environmental Education Consultant for the North Carolina State University Forestry and Environmental Outreach Program, have been involved with the facilitation of the SFTA since it began in North Carolina. As my co-researchers, they played a crucial role by helping me draft survey questions, review my data and interpretations, and will help guide the actions from my findings. Additional Assistance. I must mention two other people that were instrumental in cycle two of project. Though not co-researchers, Pat Maloney and Mike de Lasaux were instrumental in assisting me with the creation of the program provider survey I used in cycle two of my project. I met them through Project Learning Tree, and had the pleasure of presenting with them at the 2014 Project Learning Tree International Coordinator’s Conference in Michigan. It was during this conference that the three of us decided that we needed to begin bringing together all
  19. 19. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 19 the summer forestry program providers to share information, and my project was a great beginning point. I would also like to thank Addie Thornton, Program Coordinator for the Forestry and Environmental Outreach Program. She manually enters the data from the SFTA teacher evaluations annually, and she graciously included my additional research questions in her data entry. Dr. Kathryn Stevenson, post-doctoral researcher in the NC State University Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, deserves my whole-hearted thank you as well for her proofreading assistance. Data Collection and Analysis In my project, I used a mixed-method of data collection by combining quantitative and qualitative data. A mixed-method approach builds on the strength of each form of data, and can deepen the understanding of the story the data is telling (Mills, 2011, p.4). In looking to answer my research question, I was seeking numerical evidence as well as narratives to help lead me to future actions for the program. My first cycle of data collection took place in June 2014, before the beginning of the action research project. This archival data was important to my research because I had immediate access to the teacher participants and the experience was fresh in their minds. Upon the conclusion of each academy, participants complete a paper program evaluation. Specifically for my action research project, I added four additional questions to our standard evaluation as well as an introduction to my project and a statement of inclusion (12-15, Appendix B). These questions related specifically to interest in a variety of follow-up activities via a Likert-scale, a list of online tools for teachers to select as ways to connect with academy facilitators and participants; and an open-ended question relating to incorporating forestry education into the
  20. 20. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 20 classroom. The last question asked teachers what they would be willing to pay for a one-day follow-up program. These four questions were to help me judge what type of activities teachers would consider valuable, and how much they would be willing pay for these additional experiences. This data was hand entered into a spreadsheet for easier analysis. The data for questions 12, 13, and 15 were quantitative, so a simple comparison of response frequencies determined which areas the teachers were most interested in pursuing for continued engagement in the program. Question 14 was short answer, and required some coding to pull out ideas that would help teachers incorporate forestry education into their classrooms. I used grounded theory to generate the code categories (Corbin & Strauss, 2007), meaning I derived the categories from patterns I noticed in the data rather than using pre-determined codes. The four categories I used to sort this data were: ideas that could be provided online, ideas that are beyond the scope of the program in its current format, ideas that teachers could help each other with, and information that is covered but not equally in both program locations. The last category was included specifically because I noticed frequent requests for information that is covered more in one academy over the other, as the focus of each program is slightly different. The information gained from this first round of data collection guided the structure of some of the questions for my second cycle of data collection. For example, I had not included an email or list-serve as a way to connect with participants, however, five participants wrote this option as a way they would choose to communicate. I also structured some of the survey questions to see how other states provide information online or in formats different that our program. My second cycle of data collection was a survey (Appendix C) of 17 summer forestry program providers. The survey was distributed through Qualtrics™ and was open for 15 days.
  21. 21. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 21 The first email included information about my project and asked the participants to consider participating. Three reminders were sent, and all 17 providers completed the survey for a 100% completion rate. The survey included single answer, multiple choice, and short answer questions. I also provided the opportunity for participants to enter any other information they felt was important for my project but not specifically addressed in the survey. The purpose of the survey was to help me discover answers to my research sub-question by investigating extended engagement opportunities other programs provided. The survey also allowed me to begin exploring how other state programs are configured and how other similar programs strive to connect with their participants. Again, a majority of the data collected was quantitative, and was compiled by the Qualtrics program. This data was provided in easy to read bar graphs, enabling me to quickly discern the information the program providers shared. A few questions presented qualitative data, but the responses were limited. Question 32 asked about the types of action program participants are asked to complete at the conclusion of the program. These responses were simply separated into what I called soft asks, meaning there is little follow up or consequences if actions are not taken; and requirements, which resulted in earning continuing education credits or additional stipends. The last question of the survey was also an opportunity for program providers to share anything else they felt was relevant that was not previously addressed in the survey. These answers were coded as clarification of a survey response and general program information. My co-researchers reviewed this data and we discussed some of the aspects that varied from our program. Overall, they did not have much comment on the data. My third cycle of data collection took place on October 13, 2014, when 10 previous participants in our program gathered at the Stan Adams Training Facility at Jordan Lake
  22. 22. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 22 Educational State Forest in Chatham County, North Carolina. The purpose of the focus group was to determine the professional development strengths and weakness of our current program format and how the teachers would design a new program. My co-researchers and I began the meeting at 9am with an overview of the day, information about my project including a statement that the work during the day would be used in my project and to inform the creation of a new Piedmont academy. Working in grade level groups, the teachers addressed three questions:  What are the key aspects of professional development (PD) that help you bring back what you have learned into the classroom? Clarification was given stating how and what are important piece of PD.  Thinking back to what you said about important pieces of PD programs: o What pieces of the SFTA fit your model? o What could be added/done to SFTA to address the missing pieces/parts  What forestry and natural resource topics or activities should be included in a Piedmont Academy to deepen and round out your knowledge? Question three is not included in my discussion as it falls outside the scope of my research questions. Groups were given roughly 30 minutes to discuss and record their answers on flip-chart paper. Following the group work time, my co-researcher Dr. Moore led the debriefing of each grade level group. I took additional notes throughout the debriefing discussions, including clarifying questions. We followed this protocol for all three questions. At the conclusion of the focus group, I transcribed the flip chart information and combined it with my handwritten notes. Due to the room acoustics, the size of the room, and the length of the focus group, I decided that
  23. 23. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 23 voice recording would not be beneficial. My co-researchers reviewed these notes for clarification and to ensure that all comments were captured as they remembered. The large amount of qualitative data required coding that would help me detect any patterns in the data. I first began by attempting a grounded theory approach (Corbin & Strauss, 2007), however the wide variety of answers, some of which did not relate to my research question, made this technique inappropriate. The purpose of the focus group was to determine how the SFTA meets professional development needs and what actions could be taken to fill professional development gaps. Therefore, I went back to Darling-Hammond et al. (2009), and decided to relate the focus group responses to the four key principle of well-designed professional development. This process began by just listing out each item, but some responses fell in more than one category. Next, I moved to a more visual form. My original documents were handwritten in lead and color pencil, but I recreated them digitally to increase their clarity (Appendix D). Ideas and comments provided during the focus group were linked specifically to the professional development key principles. This process allowed me to see easily areas where we are doing well in designing our academies, as well as the areas where we could improve and extend engagement. My critical colleagues and co-researchers reviewed this data for clarity and to determine if there were additional linkages that I may have missed. In addition to collecting data throughout the research process, I also collected ideas and recorded reflections in my research journal. Alber (2011) writes, “Many students report that taking a few minutes at the end of the day to record their thoughts was helpful as they implemented their studies” (p. 70). I used my research journal to help keep track and identify, recognize, and acknowledge values and interests that may affect my research. Subjective awareness is beneficial to the qualitative researcher as preconceptions enable the researcher to
  24. 24. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 24 identify issues, situations, and recognize common themes (Ahern, 1999). Engaging in this reflection process before, during, and after my research project helped me recognize my feelings during the research process, identify potential conflicts, and reframe perceived roadblocks (Ahern, 1999). My research journal helped me keep track of the research process, conversations, and other needed documentation. Reflection is an important part of action research, and my research journal provided a place to document and collected these reflections. Findings In the first cycle of data collection, all teachers stated that they would be very interested, or somewhat interested, in attending other forestry educational programs. This information did provide me with validation that teachers find forestry education a valuable resource for their professional development. Teachers also stated that Facebook was the top online tool that they would use to connect with SFTA participants and facilitators, which validates the Facebook page we began in August 2011. A third of program providers surveyed use Facebook to facilitate program topic conversations with participants before their programs begin, with the number increasing to over half for post-program conversations. No program providers use Google+, though it ranked second with our 2014 teacher participants. Additionally, no program providers use online conferencing or webinars, which was selected by less than 15% of the North Carolina teachers. The most often used tool to facilitate program topic conversations with program providers was email, which I did not have as a tool for teachers to select. Overall, a large majority of states are similar to our program with little face-to-face follow-up with the program participants upon the conclusion of the program. A majority of face- to-face follow-up takes place when teachers request individual assistance. Programs that do require post-program follow-up provide either additional funds to teachers for their efforts or a
  25. 25. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 25 university intervenes and offers course credit when additional requirements, such as writing lesson plans are completed. According to the survey data, eight states offer college credit for their program, but there was little discussion about this process. One program did comment that their program is not responsible for awarding college credits, which are handled directly through a university. However, it appears from the survey that these are optional activities for program participants, and it was not clear how this information was shared with other participants in the program. According to the focus group, the current structure of the SFTA does address every key principle of well-designed professional development as discussed by Darling-Hammond et al. (2009). My visual data layout shows me that we correlate the strongest to principle two, which states that professional development should focus on student learning and address the teaching of specific curriculum content. This is not a surprise to me, as I feel this is where our program is the strongest. The program’s weakest area relates to principle four. This was as I expected as principle four relates to building strong working relationships among teachers, and the purpose of my research is to determine ways we can begin to build these relationships through extended engagement. The focus group data also helped to validate data from the 2014 SFTA participant survey and the program provider survey. The idea of a group list-serve was very popular with the focus group, was mentioned in the participant survey, and used most often by program providers. During the focus group, the idea of an alumni weekend was discussed with much excitement when listing ideas of how the SFTA could address the missing parts important for good professional development. The program provider survey indicated that four states provide reunion events for previous participants, and six programs ask past participants to serve as
  26. 26. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 26 facilitators in their program. The focus group teachers also discussed the idea of an SFTA Ambassador program, which would allow past participants the opportunity to connect with teachers in their area and help market the program. Another interesting finding was related to online tools used to connect program participants. Within our participant survey, 30% of teachers said they would find Edmodo as a useful tool. However, the program provider survey indicated that no programs currently use this tool. Within the focus group, the idea of an Edmodo site was highly received. Ample discussion concentrated on this idea including ease of use, the ability to share documents within the platform, some of the larger school districts encouraging professional development providers to use Edmodo for monitoring participants’ use of information provided in training, and most schools not blocking the site. Validity and Ethics My critical colleagues have been a sounding board throughout the project, helping me see pathways I may have missed, posing questions for me to consider, and ensuring I stay on task. My critical colleagues are from cohort 16 of the Ecological Teaching and Learning Masters Program at Lesley University. Dr. Lily Fessenden, Assistant Professor at Lesley University and faculty for the masters program, is one of my critical colleagues. My other two critical colleagues, Lisa Canale and Ashley Outlaw, are students in the masters program. As a critical colleague, Canale encouraged me to go deeper and helped me see that program changes could be beneficial and provide new opportunities. Outlaw is a classroom teacher, therefore her experiences and ideas of quality professional development were also valuable. Since I was not dealing directly with students, I was not required to seek parental permissions for my research. However, I did have to build and maintain the trust of teacher
  27. 27. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 27 participants throughout my project (Mills, 2001, p. 26). I accomplished this by ensuring that throughout my research, the teachers and program providers I surveyed understood the extent of my research project and gave them the opportunity to contact me with they had any concerns. All surveys were anonymous, and comments in the focus group were not assigned to any particular participant unless I was given specific permission for additional follow-up. Mills (2011, p. 114) reminds us that it is challenging to remain objective and open when looking at our data, which can lead to bias. At the beginning of the project, I was personally focused on an online solution to extend the engagement with participants in the SFTA. This was due to perceived barriers of limited time, funds, and ability to provide face-to-face engagement with a limited staff. I had to recognize this bias early in my project when many of the online tools that I felt would be easy to implement including blogs, webinars, and a dedicated wikispace were not the ideas that the teachers were interested in pursuing. I was required to push my bias aside to be open to new ideas, and remember that the goal was to provide professional development for teachers in a way that engaged them. For the whole project, my biggest limitation was having access to the teachers that participate in the program since they are spread across the state. This is one reason why the archival data from the summer 2014 program participants is valuable for my project. Early in the research process, it was my intent to bring together a larger group of past participants to provide some additional forestry-related training, then follow their incorporation of this materials into their classroom. However, time constraints and other logistical issues prevented this training from occurring. In retrospect however, I am not sure if this would have provided the information I was really seeking to answer my research questions.
  28. 28. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 28 Another limitation is apparent in the program provider survey. There are some responses I am uncertain about, and would have liked more clarification. I was surprised at the number of programs that provide college credit, and wonder if college credit included continuing education credits. One of the programs is an international program and is very different from the other programs. I do not think this difference skewed my findings as responses to engagement questions in the survey were all similar. In retrospect, I may not have included them in the original survey pool in order to prevent any possible misrepresentation in my findings. The focus group participation was another limitation. Due to limited funds, the focus group was limited to one day, and in the central part of the state. North Carolina is a large state, and the assumption was made that teachers further than two hours away would not be interested in attending due to the additional travel time. The focus group was also held during the week. These constraints reduced our pool of past participants based on travel time and the ability to be gone from the classroom for a day. During the focus group, one group was unclear with the instructions for the first question. Instead of listing what they considered important to professional development, they related their answers to the SFTA. Despite giving verbal instructions and writing the question on the board, they were still misdirected. My only concern is that we may have missed some of their ideas that they consider key to professional development. However, seeing how this question was not related directly to our program, my co-researchers and I are not too concerned that their responses skewed findings relevant to the project. Implementation Overall, I was thrilled with the outcome of my action research project. The work validated the format and work we have done in the past years to make the program a strong
  29. 29. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 29 professional development opportunity for teachers. Additionally, I feel like I came away with actions that can be implemented to reach a goal of extending engagement with useful activities for teachers. As stated previously in my literature review, I felt our program was the weakest in key principles one and four (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009). The first principle relates to ongoing professional development, and the fourth principle focuses on developing working relationships among teachers. Teachers in the focus group felt that we were already addressing the first principle; however, I feel our future actions will strengthen the correlations to both key principles of professional development. In the near-term, we have already begun the process of creating a list-serve for all the SFTA past participants and facilitators. North Carolina State University provides this service for campus faculty and staff, however the system is a bit cumbersome. Over 400 email addresses have been uploaded and validated by the system. The next step is to invite past participants to the list-serv with an email that includes user guidelines for the list-serve and how to opt-out and not receive any email notifications. Email communications and list-serves were highly utilized by the other program providers I surveyed, as well as being a suggested tool during the focus group. A second-near term action as a result from my research is the creation of an Edmodo site for our program. The user interface is very similar to Facebook, but with more power to share documents. I have created a personal account, and my co-researcher Dr. Moore has created a program account and page. We are in the process of determining the best way to set-up our site and add content before inviting others to join. Our goal is to have the site functional before our summer 2015 programs.
  30. 30. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 30 A mid-term action involves the creation of the SFTA Ambassador program. An SFTA Ambassador would promote the program to teachers in their county and be a point of contact to assist program participants with classroom implementation as needed. Guidelines need to be created to outline the expectations of the SFTA facilitators and the ambassadors. I have a strong desire to tie this program into the evaluation system for North Carolina teachers and the six standards that are measured during teacher evaluation (North Carolina Teacher Evaluation Process, 2012). I foresee the leadership that the ambassadors demonstrate, the sharing and gaining of content knowledge, and modeling of classroom application would address three of the six standards. A long-term action is the creation of an alumni gathering. Some other state programs provide short gathering for their past participants, and the focus group was incredibly excited about this possibility of meeting up with other teachers and sharing how they have incorporated forestry education into their classrooms as well as learning new information. Data from our summer 2014 participants demonstrates that charging $50 is the threshold for an additional forestry program; therefore we will need to seek additional funding. I also want to investigate the content and structure of alumni gatherings provided by other state forestry education programs. Other suggestions provided by the 2014 program evaluations, and validated by the focus group, can be implemented with the creation and use of the email list-serve and Edmodo site. Teachers were seeking videos and pictures to share with their students. Some of this information is on the current Facebook site, but not everyone has an account. Our hope would be cross posting on multiple sites would reach more educators. Some ideas require seeking additional
  31. 31. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 31 funding. This includes the creation of ready-made activity kits, providing the materials for one new lesson during the academy, and supplies for checkout and use across the state. Moving forward, I will be interested to see how these program additions affect the perceptions of the SFTA as a professional development program. Will these actions equally affect all teachers across North Carolina, or is it just a small snap shot of teachers’ perceptions in one given year? Additionally, our program has been modified for summer 2015, with the addition of one new location and cutting each location from five days to four. Will the implementation of online tools overcome the loss of a day of programing? Will the loss of a programming day require more focus on content knowledge during alumni gatherings, or can it remain an opportunity for teachers to share their forestry curriculum successes? Another area I plan to continue investigating are other state programs. I am especially curious about the programs that offer college credit. In addition, when lesson plans are submitted in the various programs, I wonder how they are vetted and shared with wider audiences. As program facilitators, many of us know each other but we are not sharing our information with each other. I believe sharing information across a network of program providers can only make all of our programs stronger. Presentation of Data My current employment at North Carolina State University will provide me with many opportunities to present my action research project. I am not aware of any systematic study of forestry education programs like the SFTA, so I believe this information will be valuable to many groups.
  32. 32. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 32 This report and my findings will be presented for the first time at Lesley University in January of 2015 for the completion of the Ecological Teaching and Learning Master of Science Degree. Other oral presentations may include:  NC State University Department of Forestry and Environmental Resource’s Seminar Series (Spring 2015)  Project Learning Tree International Coordinators’ Conference (June 2015)  Environmental Educators of North Carolina Annual Conference (September 2015)  Society of American Foresters Conference (November 2015) I also plan to submit my report and findings for publication to the Journal of Extension, a peer- reviewed digital journal. Conclusion North Carolina has 18.6 million acres of forested land covering approximately 60% of the state’s land mass (Brown and New, 2013). Sixty-eight percent of North Carolina counties are more than 50% forested. Mitchel (2013) reported the forest industry benefits the North Carolina economy by employing approximately 67,500 people and annually exporting $16.2 billion in products. Additionally, the United States Forest Service reminds us that trees and forests are important for urban areas as they strengthen the quality of social connections, provide areas to recreate, help regulate temperatures and reduce energy use, improve air quality, increase property values, and reduce storm run-off to decrease urban flooding (USDA, 2014). It is evident that forests are a highly visible feature of North Carolina’s landscape, are important to the economy, and vital for healthy ecosystems. It is truly my pleasure to offer a professional development program that bolsters North Carolina teachers’ understanding of the complexity of our forest ecosystems, and provide them
  33. 33. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 33 tools to take information they have learned back to students in their classrooms. The actions based upon the findings of my action research will create positive changes within our program. The action research process has left me renewed and reinvigorated to connect more wholly with the program and excited to move forward, creating a stronger professional development program for North Carolina teachers.
  34. 34. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 34 References Alber, S. M. (2011). A toolkit for action research. Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Ahern, K. J. (1999). Ten tips for reflexive bracketing. Qualitative Health Research, 9(3), 407- 411. doi: 10.1177/104973239900900309 Association for Experiential Education. (2014). What is experiential education?. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher, 33(8), 3-15. doi:10.3102/0013189X033008003 Brown, M. J., New, B. D. (2013). North Carolina: 2011 forest inventory and analysis factsheet. e-Science Update SRS–080. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station. Retrieved February 27, 2014, from states/nc/NC%202011_e-SU-080.pdf Bradbury, H. (2003). Sustaining the heart of action research(ers): An interview with Joanna Macy. Action Research, 1(2), 208-223. doi: 10.1177/14767503030012005 Capps, D. K., Crawford, B. A., Constas, M. A. (2012). A review of empirical literature on inquiry professional development: Alignment with best practices and a critique of the findings. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 23(3), 291-318. doi:10.1007/s10972- 012-9275-2 Capps, D. K., & Crawford, B. A. (2013). Inquiry-based professional development: What does it take to support teachers in learning about inquiry and nature of science?. International Journal of Science Education, 35(12), 1947-1978. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2012.760209
  35. 35. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 35 Common Core State and NC Essential Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2014, from Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2007). Basics of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Dana, N.F. (2013). Digging deeper into action research. Twin Oaks, CA: Corwin Darling-Hammond, L., Wei, R. C., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. Dallas, TX. National Staff Development Council. Desimone, L. M. (2009). Improving impact studies of teachers' professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educational Researcher, 38(3), 181– 199. doi: 10.3102/0013189X08331140. Desimone, L. M. (2011). A primer on effective professional development. Kappan Magazine, 92(6), 68-71. Dovetail Partners. (2013). 2014 U.S. Teachers’ Tours. Retrieved March 4, 2014, from Garet, M. S., Porter, A. C., Desimone, L., Birman, B. F., & Yoon, K. S. (2001). What makes professional development effective? Results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 915-945. Retrieved from . Jeanpierre, B., Oberhauser, K., & Freeman, C. (2005). Characteristics of professional development that effect change in secondary science teachers’ classroom practices. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(6), 668-690. doi:10.1002/tea.20069
  36. 36. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 36 Lakshmanan, A., Heath, B. P., Perlmutter, A., & Elder, A. (2011). The impact of science content and professional learning communities on science teaching efficacy and standards-based instruction. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(5), 534-551. doi: 10.1002/tea.20404 Licensure. (n.d.). Public Schools of North Carolina. Retrieved April 3, 2014, from Loucks-Horsley, S., Stiles, K. E., Mundry, S., Love, N., & Hewson, P. E. (2010). Designing professional development for teachers of science and mathematics (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Marrongelle, K., Sztajn, P. & Smith, M. (2013). Scaling up professional development in an era of common state standards. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(3), 202-211. doi: 10.1177/0022487112473838 Meadows, D. H. (2008). Thinking in systems: A primer. D. Wright (Ed.). White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing. Mills, G. E. (2011). Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. Mitchel, P. (2013, August 1). North Carolina’s forest products industry is an economic engine. [Web log post]. Retrieved from carolinas-forest-products-industry-is-an-economic-engine/ Moore, S.E, Grantham, J., & Strnad, R.L. (2013). NC Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academy. Unpublished raw data.
  37. 37. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 37 NGSS. (2013, April). Appendix G – Crosscutting concepts. Retrieved April 17, 2014, from G Crosscutting Concepts FINAL edited 4.10.13.pdf North Carolina Teacher Evaluation Process. (2012). Retrieved December 1, 2014, from manual.pdf Penuel, W. R., Fishman, B. J., Yamaguchi, R., & Gallagher, L. P. (2007). What makes professional development effective? Strategies that foster curriculum implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 44(4), 921-958. doi: 10.3102/0002831207308221 Public Schools of North Carolina. (2013, September). North Carolina School Improvement Planning Implementation Guide. [Version 2.1]. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from Reason, P., & Bradbury, H. (2006). Preface, Introduction. Handbook of action research: Concise edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Schmuck, R. A. (2006). Practical action research for change (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Tournaki, E., Lyublinskaya, I., & Carolan, B. (2011). An Ongoing Professional Development Program and Its Impact on Teacher Effectiveness. The Teacher Educator, 46(4), 299- 315. doi: 10.1080/08878730.2011.604711 Uhl, C. (2013). Developing ecological consciousness: The end of separation (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  38. 38. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 38 USDA. (2013, October 1). Ecosystem Services. Retrieved from USDA. (2014, January 9). Trees for people, urban forestry 101. Retrieved from
  39. 39. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 39 Appendix A Teacher forestry education program providers, as compiled by Dovetail Partners (2013) State Contact email Program Name AR Rob Beadel Arkansas Teacher Conservation Tour CA unlisted California Forestry Institute for Teachers (FIT) FL Chelsea Parke chelsea.parker@freshfromfloridacom Florida Forestry Teachers Tour GA Carla Rapp Georgia Teacher Conservation Workshop ID Michele Youngquist Idaho Sustainable Forestry Tour for Teachers & Counselors IN Donna Rogler Indiana Natural Resources Teachers Institute LA Whitney Wallace unlisted Louisiana Forestry Teachers' Tour ME unlisted Forests of Maine Teachers' Tours MI Bill Botti Michigan Sustainable Forestry Teacher Program MN Paula Frings Minnesota Forestry Education and Awareness Program (FEAP) MS Anna Kendall Mississippi Teachers Conservation Workshops NC Renee Strnad North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Teachers' Academy (NC SFTA) OR Rick Zenn Oregon International Educator's Institute SC Julie Leary South Carolina Teachers' Tour: Teaching Sustainable Forestry in Environmental Education
  40. 40. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 40 State Contact email Program Name TX unlisted Texas Teachers' Conservation Institute VA Bill Worrell Virginia Trees-to-Products Summer Teachers' Program WI Sarah Gilbert Wisconsin - A Forest for Every Classroom WI Sarah Gilbert Wisconsin - From Forest to Finish: A community based learning retreat for educators
  41. 41. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 41 Appendix B 2014 Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academy Post Academy Evaluation – Asheville Thank you for your participation in the North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Teachers' Academy! I am in the process of beginning an action research project centered on the Sustainable Forestry Teachers' Academy as part of the Ecological Teaching and Learning Masters Program through Lesley University. My research question is: How can I create a meaningful continued engagement experience for the teachers across North Carolina annually attending our Sustainable Forestry Teachers' Academies? As part of my project, I will be using some of the data collected in this program evaluation to help create post-academy engagement experiences in Fall 2014. All responses will remain anonymous throughout my project. If you have any questions or concerns during the completion of this program evaluation, please let me know. I also encourage you to contact me afterwards if you have any concerns. Renee Strnad Environmental Educator - Extension Forestry NC State University 919-515-5518 Name (optional): ___________________________________________________ Attended a previous Academy/Tour? ___ No ___ Yes. If no, please DO NOT use the Post-Academy #2 scale. 1. Please rate your OPINION of forestry in NC. (Circle the number of your choice.) Extremely favorable Extremely unfavorable Pre-Academy 5 4 3 2 1 0 Post-Academy #1 5 4 3 2 1 0 Post-Academy #2 5 4 3 2 1 0 2. Please rate your KNOWLEDGE of forestry in NC. (Circle the number of your choice.) Significant knowledge No Knowledge Pre-Academy 5 4 3 2 1 0 Post-Academy #1 5 4 3 2 1 0 Post-Academy #2 5 4 3 2 1 0
  42. 42. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 42 3. Please rate how your CHOICE of forest products to purchase has changed by participating in the Academy. (Circle the number of your choice.) Changed significantly Unchanged Pre-Academy 5 4 3 2 1 0 Post-Academy #1 5 4 3 2 1 0 Post-Academy #2 5 4 3 2 1 0 4. Please rate your LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE that the forest products industry operates responsibly. (Circle the number of your choice.) Confident Not Confident Pre-Academy 5 4 3 2 1 0 Post-Academy #1 5 4 3 2 1 0 Post-Academy #2 5 4 3 2 1 0 5. Please RATE your COMFORT LEVEL TO TEACH forestry topics in your classroom. (Circle the number of your choice.) Extremely comfortable Not Comfortable Pre-Academy 5 4 3 2 1 0 Post-Academy #1 5 4 3 2 1 0 Post-Academy #2 5 4 3 2 1 0 6. Please RATE your experience at each site based on the value to you as an educator. (Circle the number of your choice.) Extremely valuable No value Forest History Presentation 5 4 3 2 1 0 Biltmore Forestry and Wildlife Tour 5 4 3 2 1 0 Forest Measurements Exercise 5 4 3 2 1 0 Bent Creek Tour 5 4 3 2 1 0 Urban Forestry Presentation 5 4 3 2 1 0 Urban Forestry Tour 5 4 3 2 1 0 Jackson Paper Mfg. Tour 5 4 3 2 1 0 Cradle of Forestry Visit 5 4 3 2 1 0 GIS/GPS Presentation and Exercise 5 4 3 2 1 0 Columbia Forest Products Tour 5 4 3 2 1 0 Parton Lumber Co. Tour 5 4 3 2 1 0
  43. 43. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 43 7. Please RATE the concepts below based on how likely you are to incorporate the concept into your classroom. (Circle the number of your choice.) Definitely Will Not Likely Myths vs. Reality in forestry 4 3 2 1 0 Importance of the forest products industry to our state 4 3 2 1 0 History of North Carolina’s forests 4 3 2 1 0 State of North Carolina’s forests 4 3 2 1 0 Principles of forest ecology 4 3 2 1 0 Forest measurements 4 3 2 1 0 Forestry technology 4 3 2 1 0 Importance of forest management 4 3 2 1 0 Techniques of forest management 4 3 2 1 0 Advantages of wood products versus substitutes 4 3 2 1 0 Career opportunities in forestry 4 3 2 1 0 Use of biomass for energy 4 3 2 1 0 Forest wildlife 4 3 2 1 0 Importance of forest products to our daily lives 4 3 2 1 0 8. If you answered “not likely” for any of these concepts, why not? (Check all that apply.) ___ not enough time ___ not part of the curriculum ___ not confident ___ other: (please describe)_______________________________________________ 9. Which of the following materials will help you incorporate forestry into your classroom? Project Learning Tree training ____ Lesson plans ____ Academy notebook ____ CD ROM ____ Other _______________________________________________________________ 10. As a teacher, how will you use the information you learned during the Academy in your classroom? Be specific. 11. How interested are you in attending other forestry educational programs? (Please check one.) ___ very interested ___ somewhat interested ___ not interested
  44. 44. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 44 12. Please RATE your interest, based on the value to you as an educator. (Circle the number of your choice.) Extremely Interested Extremely NOT Interested I would be interested in participating in follow-up programing with other teachers that have attended the Sustainable Forestry Teachers' Academy. 5 4 3 2 1 0 I would be interested in opportunities to share successes and struggles of incorporating forestry education into my classroom with other teachers that have attended the Sustainable Forestry Teachers' Academy. 5 4 3 2 1 0 I would be interested in a one- day workshop to build upon concepts learned this week. 5 4 3 2 1 0 I would be interested in participating in webinars about forestry education in the classroom. 5 4 3 2 1 0 I would be interested in a forestry education web site or blog. 5 4 3 2 1 0 I would be interested in curriculum writing workshops. 5 4 3 2 1 0 I would be interested in being a part of a Forestry Professional Learning Community. 5 4 3 2 1 0 I would be interested in using technology to bring quest speakers into my classroom. 5 4 3 2 1 0 I would be interested in guest speakers coming to my class. 5 4 3 2 1 0 13. What are the online tools you would use to connect with Sustainable Forestry Teachers’ Academy participants and facilitators? (Check all that apply.) ___ Facebook ___ Blog ___ Edmodo ___ LinkedIn ___ Twitter ___ Digital Newsletter ___ Google+ ___ Online Conferencing/Webinar ___ WikiSpace ___ Other (please describe)________________________________
  45. 45. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 45 14. Do you have other ideas not previously mentioned that would help you incorporate forestry education into your classroom? 15. If there were a fee to attend a one-day post-academy workshop, how much would you be willing to pay? (Check all that apply) ___ I would not pay ___ ≤ $25 ___ ≤ $50 ___ ≤ $100 ___ ≥ $100 ___ Would be based on what my school would pay 16. How will you personally use the new knowledge you have acquired, outside of your classroom? (Check all that apply.) ___ to make decisions about my own or family forest ___ share it with friends, family and others ___ to make more informed choices when buying forest products ___ other: (please describe)_______________________________________________ 17. What did you learn this week that surprised you most? 18. Would you recommend this program to others? Why or why not? If you can, please give us the name, school and email address of a teacher you would like to recommend for next year’s academy: 19. How could we improve the program? 20. How did you find out about the program? (Please check only one.) ___ through an internet search ___ at the NCSTA conference ___ referral by previous participant ___ through a listserve which one? ________________________________ ___ other: (please describe)___________________________________________
  46. 46. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 46 21. What is the primary reason that you attended the Academy? (Please check only one.) ___ I need continuing education credits. ___ I teach some forestry now, but want to do more. ___ I would like to begin teaching forestry. ___ A previous participant said I should attend. ___ I wanted to visit Asheville. ___ I’m working on my EE certification. ___ other: (please describe)___________________________________________ Grade(s) and subject(s) you teach: __________________________________________________ Number of students you teach per year ____ Type of school: ___ Public ___ Private ___ Homeschool Location of school: ___ Mountains ___ Piedmont ___Coastal Plain My school is ___ Rural ___ Urban ___ Suburban Do you own forested land? ___ Yes ___ No Thank you for attending!
  47. 47. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 47 Appendix C Hello ${m://FirstName} Follow this link to the Survey: ${l://SurveyLink?d=Take the Survey} Or copy and paste the URL below into your internet browser: ${l://SurveyURL} Building upon a presentation I co-presented at the 2014 Project Learning Tree Conference in Michigan, I am moving forward with a program provider survey. As mentioned at the conference, this survey serves two purposes. The first is for us, as program providers, to begin understanding how all our programs are formatted and to help learn from each other. The second purpose is related to my masters work at Lesley University. The basis of my project is the North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Teachers' Academy. My research question is: How can I create a meaningful continued engagement experience for the teachers across North Carolina annually attending our Sustainable Forestry Teachers' Academies? As part of my project, I am surveying the program providers of similar teacher forestry education programs across the United States. I hope to learn more about the variety of programs offered, and how your programs provide meaningful engagement with program participants upon the conclusion of your program. This survey contains 20 questions, and should take about 15 minutes to complete. By proceeding with this survey, you are agreeing that your information may be used and shared in my project, with other program providers, and may be published. All responses will remain anonymous throughout the report out of the data. At the end of the survey, there will be an opportunity to indicate if you would like a summary of the results. The survey will remain open until October 8, 2014. If you have any questions or concerns during the completion of this program evaluation, please let me know. I also encourage you to contact me afterwards if you have any question or concern. My contact information is below. Thank you in advance for participating in my survey. Renee Strnad Environmental Educator - Extension Forestry NC State University 919-515-5518 Follow the link to opt out of future emails: ${l://OptOutLink?d=Click here to unsubscribe}
  48. 48. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 48 Extended Forestry Education Programs for Classroom Teachers Q1 Extended Forestry Education Programs for Classroom Teachers: Provider Survey I am completing an action research project as part of the Ecological Teaching and Learning Masters Program through Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. The basis of my project is the North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Teachers' Academy. My research question is: How can I create a meaningful continued engagement experience for the teachers across North Carolina annually attending our Sustainable Forestry Teachers' Academies? As part of my project, I am surveying the program providers of similar teacher forestry education programs across the United States. I hope to learn more about the variety of programs offered, and how your programs provide meaningful engagement with program participants upon the conclusion of your program. This survey contains 20 questions, and should take about 15 minutes to complete. By proceeding with this survey, you are agreeing that your information may be used and shared in my project, with other program providers, and may be published. All responses will remain anonymous throughout the report out of the data. At the end of the survey, there will be an opportunity to indicate if you would like a summary of the results. If you have any questions or concerns during the completion of this program evaluation, please let me know. I also encourage you to contact me afterwards if you have any question or concern. Renee Strnad Environmental Educator - Extension Forestry NC State University 919-515-5518
  49. 49. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 49 The following questions relate to the structure of your program Q2 In which state does your program take place?  Alabama   Alaska   Arizona   Arkansas   California   Colorado   Connecticut   Delaware   District of Columbia   Florida   Georgia   Hawaii   Idaho   Illinois   Indiana   Iowa   Kansas   Kentucky   Louisiana   Maine   Maryland   Massachusetts   Michigan   Minnesota   Mississippi   Missouri   Montana   Nebraska   Nevada   New Hampshire   New Jersey   New Mexico   New York   North Carolina   North Dakota   Ohio   Oklahoma   Oregon   Pennsylvania   Puerto Rico 
  50. 50. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 50  Rhode Island   South Carolina   South Dakota   Tennessee   Texas   Utah   Vermont   Virginia   Washington   West Virginia   Wisconsin   Wyoming   I do not reside in the United States  Q3 What is the name of your program? Q4 What month(s) does your program take place? (Select all that apply)  January   February   March   April   May   June   July   August   September   October   November   December  Q5 How many times a year do you offer your program?  Once per year   Twice per year   Three times per year   More than three times per year 
  51. 51. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 51 Q6 How many days is your program?  One   Two   Three   Four   Five   Six   More than six  Q7 Is your program residential?  Yes   No  If Yes Is Selected, Then Skip To How many overnights?  Answer If Is your program residential? Yes Is Selected  Q8 How many overnight stays for teachers does your program require?  One   Two   Three   Four   Five   Six   More than six  Q9 Maximum number of teachers annually accepted to your program
  52. 52. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 52 Q10 For this survey, I am using the term Key Facilitators to represent entities that set the agenda, handle logistics, manage the registration process, and take a lead on program facilitation. Which organizations within your state have the role of Key Facilitators for your most recent program? (Check all that apply)  State Forestry Agency   State Wildlife Agency   State Education Department   State Forestry Association / Landowner Group   State Conservation Organization   State Environmental Education Association   State Project Learning Tree Program (if not included in other agency)   State SFI Committee   Forest Product Company   University / College   Federal Forest Service   Other Non‐Government Organization   Other  If Other Non‐Government Organi... Is Selected, Then Skip To Please name other non‐government  orga...If Other Is Selected, Then Skip To Please name other agency that serves ...  Answer If For this survey, I am using the term Key Facilitators to represent entities that set the agenda,...  Other Non‐Government Organization Is Selected  Q11 Please name other non-government organization that serves as a Key Facilitator for your program Answer If For this survey, I am using the term Key Facilitators to represent entities that set the agenda,...  Other Is Selected  Q12 Please name other agency that serves as a Key Facilitator for your program
  53. 53. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 53 Q13 For this survey, I am using the term Program Sponsor to represent entities that financially sponsor your program. Which organizations within your state have the role of Program Sponsor for your most recent program? (Check all that apply)  State Forestry Agency   State Wildlife Agency   State Education Department   State Forestry Association / Landowner Group   State Conservation Organization   State Environmental Education Association   State Project Learning Tree Program (if not included in other agency)   Forest Product Company   University / College   Federal Forest Service   Federal Education   Charitable Foundation   State SFI Committee   For‐profit business (not forest product related)   Other Non‐Government Organization   Other  If Other Non‐Government Organi... Is Selected, Then Skip To Please name other non‐government  orga...If Other Is Selected, Then Skip To Please name other agency that serves ...  Answer If For this survey, I am using the term Program Sponsor to represent entities that financially  spons... Other Non‐Government Organization Is Selected  Q14 Please name other non-government organization that serves as a Program Sponsor for your program Answer If For this survey, I am using the term Program Sponsor to represent entities that financially  spons... Other Is Selected  Q15 Please name other agency that serves as a Program Sponsor for your program
  54. 54. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 54 Q16 Which organizations within your state provide in-kind support for your most recent program? (Check all that apply)  No in‐kind provided   State Forestry Agency   State Wildlife Agency   State Education Department   State Forestry Association / Landowner Group   State Conservation Organization   State Environmental Education Association   State Project Learning Tree Program (if not included in other agency)   Forest Product Company   University / College   Federal Forest Service   Federal Education   Charitable Foundation   State SFI Committee   For‐profit business (not forest product related)   Other Non‐Government Organization   Other  Q17 What was the budget for your most recent program (not including salaries)? Q18 Do participants pay to attend the program?  Yes   No   Deposit Only  If Yes Is Selected, Then Skip To How much do your participants pay to ...If Deposit Only Is Selected, Then  Skip To How much is the deposit participants ...  Answer If Do participants pay to attend the program?   Yes Is Selected  Q19 How much do your participants pay to attend your program? Answer If Do participants pay to attend the program?   Deposit Only Is Selected  Q20 How much is the deposit participants pay for your program?
  55. 55. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 55 The following questions relate to the content of your program Q21 What grade level of teachers do you accept? (Check all that apply)  PreK   Kindergarten   1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th   9th   10th   11th   12th   Pre‐Service   Administrators   College‐level Instructors   Non‐classroom educators  Q22 What topics are covered during the duration of your program? (Check all that apply)  Silviculture   Forest Ecology   Wildlife Habitat   Endangered Species   Water Quality   Recreation   Forest History   Sustainability   Urban Forestry   GIS / GPS Technology   Forest Ownership   Soils   Forest Product Production   Forest Measurements   Climate   Forest Economics   Other  If Other Is Selected, Then Skip To Please list other topics that are cov... 
  56. 56. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 56 Answer If What topics are covered during the duration of your program? (Check all that apply) Other Is  Selected  Q23 Please list other topics that are covered during your program? Q24 Do you use any of the following online tools to facilitate program topic conversations:   Before Your Program After Your Program Facebook       Edmodo       Twitter       Google+       WikiSpace       Blog       LinkedIn       Digital Newsletter       Online Conferencing / Webinar       Email       None of the Above       Other       If Other ‐ Before Your Program Is Selected, Then Skip To Please list the other type of online ...If Other ‐  After Your Program Is Selected, Then Skip To Please list the other type of online ...  Answer If Do you use any of the following online tools to facilitate program topic conversations: Other ‐  Before Your Program Is Selected  Q25 Please list the other type of online tools you use to facilitate program topic conversations before your program Answer If Do you use any of the following online tools to facilitate program topic conversations: Other ‐  After Your Program Is Selected  Q26 Please list the other type of online tools you use to facilitate program topic conversations after your program
  57. 57. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 57 Q27 Do you provide training in any of the following environmental education curricula during your program? (Check all that apply)  Project Learning Tree   Project Wild   Project WET   Project Food, Land, and People   Leopold Project   GLOBE   Other  If Other Is Selected, Then Skip To Please list other environmental educa...  Answer If Do you provide training in any of the following environmental education curricula during your  program? (Check all that apply)   Other Is Selected  Q28 Please list other environmental education curriculum training you provide during your program Q29 Do you offer professional development credits? (Check all that apply)  Teacher continuing education credits at the state level   Environmental Education credits at the state level (for state EE certification programs)   College Credit   No credits offered   Other  If Other Is Selected, Then Skip To What other type of professional devel...  Answer If Do you offer professional development credits? (Check all that apply) Other Is Selected  Q30 What other type of professional development credits do you provide? Q31 During your program, how many minutes do you specifically allot for: ______ Lesson Planning  ______ Curriculum Writing  ______ Discussing classroom implementation with teachers of similar grades and/or subjects  Q32 Upon completion of your program, do you ask program participants to (Check all that apply):  Complete a program evaluation   Submit written lesson plan / unit plan   Participate in a follow‐up face‐to‐face session   Engage with other participants through digital technology   None of the above   Other  If Other Is Selected, Then Skip To What other type of action do you ask ... 
  58. 58. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 58 Answer If Upon completion of your program, do you ask program participants to (check all that apply):  Other Is Selected  Q33 What other type of action do you ask programs participants to complete upon completion of your program? Q34 Do you provide any face-to-face follow-up with program participants upon the completion of your program? (Check all that apply)  Classroom visits   Bringing participants back together for 'reunion' meetings or events   Providing an 'advanced' program for former program participants   Individual follow‐up upon teacher request   Have participants serve as a program facilitator in subsequent years   Other  If Other Is Selected, Then Skip To What other ways do you provide face‐t...  Answer If Do you provide any face‐to‐face follow‐up with program participants upon the completion of  your program? (Check all that apply) Other Is Selected  Q35 What other ways do you provide face-to-face follow-up with program participants upon the completion of your program? Q39 Is there anything else you would like to share about your program that would help me with my research questions that has not been covered here? Q36 Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey. If you would not mind me contacting you with any follow-up questions or you would like to be notified of the survey results, please leave your contact information below. Your survey answers will not be tied to this data, and will only be used by me (Renee) to contact you directly. First name  Last name  Email Address  Phone   
  59. 59. MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT 59 Appendix D Focus Group Data Visualization