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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development of a built environment program for application and use in the B.C. secondary curriculum Davis, Susan Jacqueline


The objective of this study was to develop an instructional program based upon the built environment for possible application to the British Columbia secondary school curriculum. In this study, the built environment is defined as the man-made buildings and structures that play a vital role in human activity. Educational programs related to the study of the built environment are well developed in Britain and the U.S.A. but little has been done to develop programs specifically for B.C. schools. The topic is deemed important and relevant for inclusion in the curriculum due to the important role man's environment plays in everyday life, human activities, heritage and culture. A built environment program was developed for pilot testing based upon the General Learning Outcomes of the B.C. secondary art/curriculum and the stated desirable behavioral objectives in education. A series of "idea matrices" was developed incorporating program objectives with the matrix content serving as a stimulus for program content. The educational program consisted of an activity workbook entitled "Close Encounters with the Built Environment" and containing a variety of study activity suggestions for classroom use. The content of the workbook emphasized sensory experience and awareness of the built environment, the study of the use of design and materials in built environment and development of critical appraisal and judgment skills by the individual. The activity workbook was evaluated by a six week situational testing program in three greater Vancouver area schools and involving grades 10-12 level classes. Evaluation procedures consisted of evaluator's observations, teacher and student questionnaires, and a quantitative test administered to two classes involved in the study program prior to, and following exposure to the activity workbook. Results of situational testing revealed a highly positive teacher and student response in one test class as evidenced by the evaluator's observations, innovative output demonstrated by activity reports of students, teacher and student questionnaire response, and student reaction to the material. Implementation difficulties were identified with a second class which consisted of slow learners and students with a poor academic performance history. This group appeared to have difficulty with verbal and written responses to the material and were somewhat resistant to it. Nevertheless, quantitative analysis indicated statistically significant increases in knowledge, comprehension and judgment skills related to the built environment in both classes exposed to the material. There was no statistically significant change in performance of the control group to which the quantitative test was administered but which was not exposed to the study material. Strengths of the program included evidence of heightened individual awareness and interest in the built environment, development of critical judgment, innovative output in terms of results produced through study activities, and positive motivation towards the subject, particularly in the moderate to fast learner test group. Problems associated with the program as tested, included difficulty experienced by some students with written material in some sections of the workbook, need for vocabulary explanation or simplification, and need for more complete instructions for teachers. In addition, difficulties in implementation were identified for slow learner groups. These concerns resulted in modification of the workbook content. The activity workbook "Close Encounters with the Built Environment" is judged to have good potential for useful inclusion in the B.C. secondary curriculum with application to the study of art, social studies, architecture, and urban planning. Pilot testing of the program in B.C. schools over a one year trial period is recommended.

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