Barriers to and Motivations for Curriculum-Based Education Program Participation at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Virginia Tech


Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) provides quality education programs to local schools. In order to continue this success and expand programs to reach more middle and high school students, a mixed methods study was conducted to help better understand why local middle and high school teachers participate or not in park educational programs. Using the Theory of Planned Behavior, teacher surveys measured factors that influence teacher intentions to participate in park programs to best predict their likelihood of future involvement. In addition, school administrators were interviewed to understand their perceptions of teacher involvement. Results provided insight to how GRSM can better provide valuable services to local middle and high schools. The best predictors of teachers' intentions to participate in future programs were their perceptions of whether programs would enhance academic achievement, how easily and comfortably they could incorporate the programs into their pre-existing curricula, and whether the experience would be a fun experience in nature for both their students and themselves. Future communications with teachers should therefore emphasize that Park programs are fun, relevant learning experiences that address academic requirements for various subjects and are relatively easy to incorporate into pre-existing curricula.



Theory of Planned Behavior, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, participation, motivation, place-based education, environmental education