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Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR CONSERVATION OF WESTERN RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Collaboration, interdisciplinary thinking, and communication: new approaches to K-12 ecology education

Author
item Bestelmeyer, Stephanie - New Mexico State University
item Elser, Monica - Arizona State University
item Spellman, Katie - University Of Alaska
item Sparrow, Elena - University Of Alaska
item Haan Amato, Stephanie - Non ARS Employee
item Keener, Anna - Non ARS Employee

Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/2/2014
Publication Date: 2/2/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/60361
Citation: Bestelmeyer, S.V., Elser, M., Spellman, K.V., Sparrow, E.B., Haan Amato, S., Keener, A. 2015. Collaboration, interdisciplinary thinking, and communication: new approaches to K-12 ecology education. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 13:37-43.

Interpretive Summary: Ecologists often engage in global-scale research through collaboration, interdisciplinary thinking, and strong communication skills. We advocate including these three practices as an integral part of ecology education at the kindergarten through 12th grade level, as opposed to waiting until the graduate level. Here we present five models of K-12 ecology education programs that emphasize these three practices within student research projects on the ecology of drylands and other ecosystems. Such practices not only provide additional skills for future ecologists but also prepare students for success in any career as well as for ecologically literate citizenship.

Technical Abstract: Ecologists often engage in global-scale research through partnerships among scientists from many disciplines. Such research projects require collaboration, interdisciplinary thinking, and strong communication skills. We advocate including these three practices as an integral part of ecology education at the kindergarten through 12th grade level, as opposed to waiting until the graduate level. Current discourse about K-12 ecology education focuses on promoting lessons in which students learn science by conducting research rather than simply reading textbooks. Here we present five models of K-12 ecology education programs that emphasize collaboration, interdisciplinary thinking, and communication within student research projects on the ecology of drylands and other ecosystems. Such practices not only provide additional skills for future ecologists but also prepare students for success in any career as well as for ecologically literate citizenship.