Forestry Education Attitudes and Teaching Practices Among High School Science Teachers in the Southern Piedmont
Fowler, Shannon Marie
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Forestry education in high schools can be an effective method for introducing students to forest management. To study its use and purpose, we conducted a web-based survey of high school science teachers in the Southern Piedmont region of the United States investigating their forestry education attitudes and teaching practices. A total of 1024 surveys were delivered and 324 returned for an adjusted response rate of 32%. Results indicate that most teachers (82%) agree forestry should be taught in high schools and do so most frequently by presenting forestry concepts in the context of ecosystem services, followed by physical and physiological characteristics of trees. Concepts related to products, uses, and management are taught least frequently. Variables that predict teaching frequencies for each of these three concept groups include classes taught in the last 5 years, environmental education program training, and childhood location in addition to attitudes toward and knowledge of forest management. Also, it was found that over half (57%) of the teachers surveyed do not take field trips to forests and less than 25% do so multiple times per year. Variables that predict whether or not teachers take field trips to forests include confidence in teaching forestry concepts, involvement in school natural resources related extra-curricular activities such as 4-H and Envirothon, and the presence of a forest within walking distance of the school. The most widely reported constraints to teaching forestry concepts and taking field trips to forests are mandated standards or curriculum (60%), money (40%), time (32%), mandated testing (19%), and training, interest, and infrastructure (19%).
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