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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Seaschool : a case study of education, ecology and economics Baron, Nancy Elizabeth


Seaschool is a one day marine studies program which takes place in Vancouver Harbour. This program explores interdependencies between economics, environments and ourselves. Seaschool is the product of interdisciplinary graduate studies, interpreted through my perspecitves as a science educator and translated into a program offered by the Vancouver Public Aquarium. Seaschool was developed within the educational context of the "Year 2000's Framework for Learning" aims for relevent, learner-centred programming. Seaschool integrates traditional single subject studies and takes a systems approach to learning by emphasizing "connections". This case study takes a constructivist view of program development from the perspective of the program developer. The study traces the origins of Seaschool and the evolution that it has undergone from its inception in 1990 through 1991 and 1992. The strengths and limitations of the programmer are embodied in a program. Consequently incorporating collective knowledge and input from a range of stakeholders i.e. other educators, staff, teachers and students improved Seaschool's content and teaching techniques. Nevertheless the programmer plays an important on-going role in evaluating input and ensuring that the directions the program takes are consistent with the program's objectives. As the programmer I have analyzed who and what influenced me, documented the changes to the program, outlined the mechanisms for change and summarized what I have learned about program development. The data includes excerpts from a written program log, written and oral feed-back and evaluations from teachers, students and co-workers, transcripts from in-depth interviews with teacher participants as well as connection charts completed by program participants. I found through the evaluations that the most important connections that participants made, were the ones they made themselves. I learned that the most effective way to make Seaschool connections between ecology and economics relevant to the participants was through learner centred approaches which encouraged participants to start with their own context and build on their experiences of the day. Therefore I learned to not be overly directive in teaching my own personal construction of connections and to maximize the students' and teachers' opportunites to participate even if it meant not being able to cover all of the content and concepts of interdepencies that I considered important. The greatest value of Seaschool is the experience itself and the multitude of opportunities it offers to make classroom learning relevant to participants.

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