Formal and informal collaborative projects: Engaging in industry with environmental awareness
SCE (WILEJ) RIGHT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlong 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. CCC 0036-8326/00/010095-19INFORMAL SCIENCELynn D. Dierking and John H. Falk, Section EditorsFormal and Informal CollaborativeProjects: Engaging in Industrywith Environmental AwarenessYEHUDIT J. DORIDepartment of Education in Technology and Science, Technion, Israel Institute ofTechnology, Haifa 32000, IsraelandCenter for Educational Computing Initiatives, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,Cambridge, MA, 02139-4307REVITAL T. TALUniversity of Michigan, School of Education, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-1259Received 21 October 1997; revised 30 November 1998; accepted 8 December 1998ABSTRACT: A model of a mixed formalinformal sciencetechnologysociety (STS)curriculum that incorporates collaborative projects with case studies, eld trips, and formalclass sessions has been developed, implemented, and assessed. The contribution of thisstudy is threefold. One is a contribution to the growing body of knowledge on informaleducation. This is achieved through the establishment of constructivist relationships be-tween formal and informal learning activities. The second contribution is the developmentof an innovative, collaborative, project-based approach in environmental education, inwhich the community at large is involved. The third contribution concerns the develop-ment, implementation, and validation of an integrated formal/informal assessment systemthat is tailored to the unique learning environment. Assessment of students learning out-comesthe formal learningis done through case studies dealing with real-life problemsin the students neighborhood or region. Experts evaluate the collaborative projectstheinformal learningin an exhibition setting. The innovative approach of integrating andassessing projects with case studies was found to be effective and attractive to students,teachers, and parents. It is therefore recommended that collaborative projects be imple-mented in schools to enhance the value of out-of-school experiences. 2000 John Wiley& Sons, Inc. Sci Ed 84:95113, 2000.Correspondence to: Y. J. Dori; e-mail: email@example.com DORI AND TALSCE (WILEJ) LEFT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of testBase of textINTRODUCTIONRevolutions in science and technology, environmental concerns on the part of the com-munity, and reform in science education during the last three decades have all contributedto the creation of the science technologysociety (STS) theme. STS creates a suitablelearning environment for community involvement in which students may experience col-laboration and group responsibility, as well as sharing successes and failures (Bybee,1993). STS issues promote system approach and interdisciplinarity (Zoller, 1993). It en-ables the implementation of a constructivist approach (Appleton & Asoko, 1996; Osborne,1996) and alleviates transformation between formal and informal learning. The vast ma-jority of curricular projects within STS deal with the natural environment. These projectshelp students in getting acquainted with nature and appreciating it. However, educationrelated to the industrial environment, which is an integral part of the contemporary humansetting, is much less developed and referenced (Posch, 1993; Solomon, 1993). Industrial-economics understanding and democratic, values-based action are two aspects of STS thatare seemingly remote from each other. To overcome this, STS issues, such as pollutionand power generation, link industry with environmental awareness and moral values. An-other option is to teach students the issue of sustainable development, which comprisesfour elements: people, environment, economics, and technology (Gamble & Weil, 1997;Neal, 1995).Theoretical and practical interdisciplinary projects constitute an ideal tool that conformswith the characteristics of environmental and STS education (McDonald & Czerniac,1994). Such projects, done in either an informal or formal setting, potentially contributetoward improving students awareness of environmental and societal problems. This, inturn, encourages students to take an active part in a judicious decision making process andto be involved in environmentally related community activities.According to Bybee (1993), the weight of classroom decisions falls most heavily on theindividual science teacher. He claimed that, as we evolve toward an ecological society,the ultimate social goals, including interdependence, sustainable growth, conservation ofresources, population control, and global harmony, become identiable. These goals canonly be achieved if they are founded on solid scientic, ecological grounds. Educationthrough projects puts additional requirements on the teachers. These include managing thecomplexity of community involvement and investing considerable extra time in conductingand monitoring student activities.The target population of STS collaborative projects should not be conned to schoolstudents. Rather, it may encompass all ages and all walks of society. Due to the usual rigidframework of school topics, it is easier to introduce industrial issues with environmentalawareness as extracurricular activities in an informal setting rather than in a formal one.According to Dierking and Falk (1994), family learning involves both cognitive and af-fective domains. In such a setting, curiosity and attention play a key role in inuencinglearning and, when more naturalistic methodologies are utilized, researchers can betteranalyze the effect of learning on the learners knowledge and understanding.Informal EducationInformal education usually takes place in museums, zoos, nature centers, and eld trips(Dierking & Falk, 1994; Kubota & Olstad, 1991; Orion, 1993). The objectives of informalscience education are to encourage a change in the learning environment, to improve thelevel of interest in science, and to increase the rate of students success in science education.FORMAL AND INFORMAL COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS 97SCE (WILEJ) RIGHT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of textBase of textStudents gain valuable experience in coping with real-world problems by striving to solvecommunity-based problems of a scientic nature (Winston, 1995).According to Rudmann (1994), teachers, principals, and parents support informal learn-ing experience as a supplement to formal classroom learning because of its affective ben-ets with the assumption that cognitive gains are also achieved. In the informal setting,the involved parents facilitate knowledge acquisition by expanding the range of questionasking and answering activities with respect to home interaction, where they act as mereinformation providers (Korpan, Bisanz, Bisanz, Boehme, & Lynch, 1997). Boisvert andSlez (1994) argued that informal education has become an important mechanism forspreading out information to the public about new ideas and technology.Falk, Koran, and Dierking (1986) claimed that we should not assume that informaleducation and learning are less important than formal education because they deviate fromthe norm. Moreover, the educational community should not expect to measure informallearning with the same degree of precision and reliability as classroom learning. An in-formal learning environment should be accompanied by a suitable informal assessmentmethodology that is exible and adaptable to the less structured programs. Informal learn-ing cannot be expected to be measurable using the same methods and tools used in formalclassroom testing.Informal education, community involvement, and STS education are closely related.STS programs have provided a solid ground for involving the community, including par-ents, business, and industry sectors in school life, with the latter being interested in thestudents future involvement in industry (Staley, 1993). The initial motivation for com-munity involvement stemmed from Goodlad (1984), who claimed that meaningful edu-cational reforms must involve the community. In Israel, industry studies are encouragedthrough various bodies that conduct formal activities, such as tours and hands-on activitydays.The inspiration for the project described in this study emanated from environment-friendly industry activities in the nearby Tefen region. The issue presented in this studyinvolves the application of informal learning combined with formal STS learning througha collaborative community project. Because constructivist learning is based on real-worldexperience in an open, free learning environment, it is best performed through inquiry orprojects that foster autonomous learning (Driver & Leach, 1993; Klein & Merritt, 1994).Formal and informal education may be best viewed as a continuum rather than a dichotomy(Hofstein & Rosenfeld, 1996). Our project seems to belong somewhere in the middle ofthis continuum and contributes toward closing the gap between formal and informal ed-ucation.THE RESEARCH SETTINGKfar Vradim is a community village (population 3000) in the Tefen region, located inupper western Galilee in the north of Israel. Parents and the community in this school aredeeply involved in both curricular and extracurricular activities. The student population isrepresentative of community schools in Israel, which practice the autonomous approach.In these schools, the community inuences the content of the curriculum, as teachers andparents may develop local curricula and design enrichment material to be used in con-junction with the national curriculum. Appendix 1 presents the learning topics, main prin-ciples, and related eld trips of the school-based curriculum in grade 6, which has evolvedinto its present form over the last 12 years. Community action and environment and in-dustry issues are highly intertwined and relate to each other. This approach was advocated98 DORI AND TALSCE (WILEJ) LEFT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of testBase of textby Ben-Peretz (1980), who claimed that, in modern times, no society can afford giving upcommunity involvement and value-based education regarding resource preservation andenvironmental awareness.An important constituent of the school-based curriculum in Kfar Vradims elementarycommunity school is the collaborative nal yearly project, done by groups of students,which is the focus of this research. The project expresses the community approach, whichseeks to combine the natural, industrial, and societal characteristics in the school curric-ulum. The project is carried out each year over approximately 3 months in the middle ofgrade 6. Examples of project subjects from previous years include designing a battery plantin the neighborhood, creating a plant for recycled paper products, and designing and man-ufacturing environment-friendly games. The projects are in conjunction with the nearbyhigh-technology Tefen Industrial Park, located within a natural environment.The school board has encouraged the project as part of the school-based curriculum dueto its contribution to the relations between industry, the environment, fulllment of com-munity life, and the need to be involved in regional development. Field trips constitute acrucial part of the program (see Appendix 1) and they follow the natural systems as wellas the human cultural and economic systems.The formal learning is done in the classroom and includes case studies that illustratethe scientic background of real-world problems. Along the formal informal continuumlie both eld trips and group-prepared portfolios that document the product design, man-ufacturing, and promotion processes. The project and its outcomesthe industrial prod-uctis conducted after school hours. Small student groups, guided by volunteer parentsand experts, meet either at school or in their homes. This element is positioned at theinformal end of this continuum.Research ObjectivesThe research objectives were as follows:1. Developing a new model for formal and informal education through communitycollaborative projects.2. Establishing an assessment system that assesses both students formal and informallearning outcomes.3. Verifying the assessment system through its application to the collaborative projectsin Kfar Vradim.Population and MethodsThe research was carried out during a period of 3 years, 19941997. During 19951996, the student population of 54 sixth graders was closely monitored. Twelve parents,four experts, and three teachers were also involved in the project and some were inter-viewed for this research.To assess the effect of the learning process, we used both qualitative and quantitativepre- and postcourse tools. The formal assessment tools included case studies (Dori, 1994;Herried 1994; Tal, Dori, & Lazarowitz, 1996) and the knowledge part of the ChildrensEnvironmental Attitude and Knowledge Scale (CHEAKS) questionnaire (Leeming,Dwyer, & Bracken, 1995). The formal assessment was done by the teachers at the indi-vidual level. The informal tools, which were applied at the group level, included expertevaluations, as well as student and parent open interviews.FORMAL AND INFORMAL COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS 99SCE (WILEJ) RIGHT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of textBase of textTABLE 1Theme Selection MeetingsMeeting No. Purpose Participants1 Brainstorming for themes Parents, teachers2 Brainstorming for themes Students, teachers3 Criteria devising and theme selection Parents, teachers, students4 Voting on the projects theme Parents, teachers, studentsTHE COMMUNITY COLLABORATIVE PROJECTDeveloping a Model for Formal and Informal EducationTo achieve the rst objective of this research within the constraints just discussed, weadopted the collaborative project in an informal setting. The informal community part ofthe project was carried out on a voluntary basis during an 8-week period. It involved thecommunity in decision making and helping as experts by giving lectures and judging theproject products. This involvement was an important factor that contributed to the projectssuccess. The groups met several times a week in the evenings, and toward the end almoston a daily basis. During the rst stage, the participants engaged in theme selection andwere divided into working groups. Each group, which consisted of 1012 students and 2or 3 parents, selected the product to be designed and manufactured within the previouslyagreed-upon theme. Each group proposed alternatives and carried out market research toselect the best alternative. The results of this process, which took three to four meetings,included a title and a general product idea. The next major process, which took six to tenmeetings, involved product analysis and design, prototype construction, andmarket survey.The nal prototype was then subject to marketing by advertising the product in the town-ship before and during the exhibition.Theme Selection ProcessAt the theme selection stage, parents, students and teachers together chose a topic, whichwas related to industry with environmental awareness. The process is described in Table1. Both parents and students proposed various project themes for the 19951996 schoolyear. Titles for these projects included Road and Public Areas Improvement, Packagesand Packing, Industry out of Waste, Industry from Natural Resources, Sweets,Industrial Plant Growing, Perfumes, Furniture, and Shoe Accessories. Questionsthat guided the theme selection criteria were: Is it interesting? Can it be considered in-dustry? Is it useful? Can we actually do it? Is it clearly dened? Is it possible to come upwith a variety of products?Based on the aforementioned criteria, many students and parents voted in favor of Roadand Public Areas Improvement, because, in their view, this theme had the potential fortangible contribution to the township and the community. As one of the students noted,Its not just a product. Imagine that our design will be part of the place we live in, andmaybe others will use the real things we design and manufacture.Main Informal ActivityProduct Design ProcessThe next 8 weeks were dedicated to the next processproduct analysis and design,prototype construction, and market survey. This is the core of the project, and is done100 DORI AND TALSCE (WILEJ) LEFT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of testBase of textTABLE 2Weekly Group MeetingsMeeting No. Meeting Topics35 Choosing group title; Preparing a survey about public needs; Choosing theproduct68 Detailed product planning; Choosing materials; Examining environmentalaspects810 Plant design; Product and marketing design; Economic aspects considera-tions; Project-portfolio preparation1112 Commercial campaign; Exhibition design; Studying for experts interviewsthrough group work, as summarized in Table 2. The students were divided into groupsaccording to criteria similar to those suggested by Lazarowitz, Hertz-Lazarowitz, Baird,and Bowlden (1988) and by Kempa and Orion (1996), namely, that each group should beof heterogeneous academic achievement, and mixed by gender and social conduct. Eachof the ve groups included 1012 students and was guided by 2 or 3 parents, with otherparents joining occasionally as needed by their areas of expertise.The parents usually guided the discussions, but the whole group made decisions byvoting on topics like the product, design, marketing policy, and environmental attitude.Each participant, parent or student, was given one vote.The schoolteachers were present at many of the meetings even when they were held atstudent homes. Although they were involved in the discussions, they did not take part inthe decisionmaking processes by voting. Industry experts were also invited to give theirperspective on specic topics of interest to each group.As Table 2 describes, each group rst selected a product related to the theme. Then,each group proposed alternative products, selected a product, and designed the manufac-turing process and the marketing plan.Several groups conducted surveys among the village public. The students in each groupwere guided to examine environmental aspects of the designed product. They suggestedpossible solutions for manufacturing stages that have adverse effect on the environment,or developed an alternative manufacturing process. The names and details of the veproducts chosen by the 19951996 students are described in Appendix 2.Integrating Formal and Informal AspectsProduct Portfolio and ExhibitionAll group decisions, processes, correspondence, programs, and debates were docu-mented by the students and collected for inclusion in the project portfolio for authenticity,as recommended by Kamen (1996). The preparation of the portfolio, mentored merely bythe teachers, was an important part of getting ready for the exhibition. The highlight ofthe project was the exhibition evening, during which the students displayed their productsin an industrial exhibition. The exhibition included the manufactured products, the mar-keting program and tools, student explanations about the environmental solutions, and theproject portfolios. The evening also included the following elements: Experts evaluation. An open market for the entire community. Group presentations. Awarding group projects.FORMAL AND INFORMAL COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS 101SCE (WILEJ) RIGHT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of textBase of textExperts evaluation. The school community involves a potential reservoir of expertsand scholars in various subject areas, including industry, economics, marketing, environ-ment, science technology, and education. The domain experts may vary from year to yearaccording to the theme of that year. Whereas assessment by parents and community mem-bers may not be highly reliable, Mitchell (1992) has encouraged parents as interviewers.Community experts were invited and took part either in mentoring or in assessing. Parentsof children in grade 6 could not serve as evaluators, as it may bias their judgment. Whileworking on the project, students consulted with these experts and the teachers invited someof them to evaluate the student presentations.The experts ranked each group according to criteria agreed upon by the guiding parentsand the teachers regarding product design, manufacturing process, environmental aware-ness, marketing, and commercial campaign.Open market for the entire community. Later that evening, while the refereeing tookplace, the exhibition was open to the community at large. The public was invited to visitthe exhibition and buy the products by voting through handing coupons. This was away to get an idea of the popularity of each product. The exhibition remained open forthe public for about 1 week, and many children from grades 15 in that school visitedthe exhibition with their parents.Group presentations. During the exhibition evening, a representative of each group gavea speech that summarized the groups work and the group played a short commercialperformance.Awarding group projects. Toward the end of the evening, the teachers presented eachgroup with an award for knowledge of the subject matter, presentation, the project port-folio, and team work.FORMAL AND INFORMAL ASSESSMENT TOOLSFollowing the developing of the formal and informal model for education through com-munity collaborative projects just described, we proceeded to the second objective of theresearchestablishing an authentic assessment system that refers to both the formal andinformal dimensions of the projects.The assessment tools were divided into two groups according to these dimensions. Forthe formal part, which included class activities and eld trips, we used the knowledge partof the CHEAKS questionnaire (Leeming et al., 1995). CHEAKS evaluated studentsknowledge and understanding of key terms and concepts. Higher cognitive skills andlearning outcomes were assessed through the use of pre- and postcourse case studies, inwhich the students were required to exercise decisionmaking and demonstrate awarenessof system complexity.The tools to assess the informal outcomes consisted of community expert evaluations,as just described, as well as interviews with students and parents. A number of studentsand guiding parents were interviewed in two sessions: once in the second week of groupmeetings and then during the seventh week.Assessing the Formal LearningA. The Knowledge Part of CHEAKS. The aim of the CHEAKS questionnaire was toevaluate environmental knowledge and attitudes of children. It is a research instrumentwith sound psychometric properties that allows comparisons of results across studies. Weused the knowledge part of the CHEAKS questionnaire, which was adapted for use byIsraeli students as follows. First, it was translated to Hebrew and three experts validatedthe translation. Only two items were changed to address cultural differences. The rst102 DORI AND TALSCE (WILEJ) LEFT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of testBase of textoriginal question, which was changed, asked the student to name the home appliance thatuses the highest amount of energy in an average American home. The answer to thisquestion is the water heater. In Israel, however, most of the houses are equipped with solarenergy devices for heating water, and air condition systems use the most energy. The otherquestion that was changed related to the group most involved in environmental issues inthe USA. We modied it to reect the situation regarding analogous organizations in Israel.The adequacy of the translated questionnaire was veried by administering it to a groupof 60 grade 5 students who were not involved in the study. The average scores and theirstandard deviations matched those reported by Leeming et al. (1995). The Cronbach forthe knowledge scale was 0.749. This value matches the result of the original CHEAKSvalues, which were between 0.719 and 0.762 in the same age group.B. Case Studies as an Assessment Tool. Case studies were presented to the studentsbefore and after they carried out the yearly project. The case studies involved industrial,natural, environmental, and societal aspects. Each case study presented so far was basedon a real event taken from actual environmental conicts around the Tefen industrialregion. The following case study served as the precourse questionnaire of the 19951996school year. It involved planning and constructing a road linking the industrial region tothe nearby southern city of Karmiel. Implementation of the shortest path would damagethe natural environment, as the proposed short route had to pass through a cliff naturalreserve. What follows is part of the original case study text, translated from Hebrew:The TefenKarmiel Road case studyIn 1983, planning authorities decided to construct a new road that would connect thenew industrial area in Tefen to Karmiel. Their plan was to build the road along a uniquecliff, famous for its beauty and geological phenomena, which is a natural boundary betweentwo distinct geographical units. The plan triggered public protest, led by environmentalistsand nearby Kibbutzim. The main argument against the road construction was the destruc-tion of the rich natural ecosystem, which could be seen from far away. Industry interestsand people living in the area, who are in need of an adequate road for transportation tothe Tefen industrial area and nearby villages, were in favor of the plan.In what follows are two of the three student assignments related to this case study:1. Industrial interest groups, settlers, and environmentalists present their position tothe planning committee, which has to make the decision. Offer the best argumentsfor each one of the three sides in the debate.2. Explain and exemplify the following terms:(a) Destruction of the natural view.(b) Economic considerations and their importance.(c) Public opposition in a democratic country.A second case study was administered after the project ended and was used for thepostcourse assessment and comparison with the precourse case study. It dealt with a rel-evant industryenvironment dilemma, which was being debated at that time. It concernedthe establishment of a new industrial zone above a very important regional aquifer. Itconsisted of three parts and the students were asked to provide arguments for rejecting theproposal by environmentalists and nearby villagers, pose questions related to the text, andexpress their own opinion.FORMAL AND INFORMAL COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS 103SCE (WILEJ) RIGHT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of textBase of textTABLE 3Comparison of Pre-CHEAKS Questionnaire between Two SchoolsAchievement LevelKfar Vradim School(N 52)School B(N 63)High 43% 7%Intermediate 49% 40%Low 8% 53%Assessing the Informal LearningExperts and Community Evaluation. As noted, experts evaluated the exhibition. In19941995, the expert judges were asked to rank each criterion on a scale of 15. Someof the experts found it difcult to assign exact numeric scores. They later indicated thatthe fact that one group was presented with more awards than the other adversely affectedthe mood by encouraging competition. Therefore, in 19951996, the judges were askedto indicate, for each group, two criteria in which its students performed best. This alleviatedthe judges task and underscored the positive aspects of each project while decreasingcompetitive tensions between groups.FINDINGSQuantitative AnalysisAs noted, we used the knowledge part of the CHEAKS questionnaire to evaluate stu-dents knowledge and understanding of environment-related key terms and concepts. TheCHEAKS questionnaire was administered as a pretest in two schools in the region: KfarVradim, which is the school in which the research was conducted; and School B, whichhas a student population that is more heterogeneous both academically and socioecon-omically. School B did not teach according to a school-based environment-centered cur-riculum, but it too conducted an industry project. We normalized each students score tot a 1100 scale. Based on students pre-CHEAKS scores, they were divided into threegroups. The low-level group included students who scored 034, the intermediate levelincluded those who scored 3549, and the high-level student group scored 50100.The data in Table 3 indicate that CHEAKS results are affected by whether or not theschool teaches according to a environmentally oriented curriculum ( 2 36.04, p 0.0001). The effect is evidenced by the fact that, in Kfar Vradim, 92% of the studentswere classied as either intermediate or high, whereas 93% of School Bs students wereclassied as either intermediate or low. The use of the pre-CHEAKS questionnaire andthe associated division into the levels was twofold: one was to analyze improvementaccording to levels of environmental knowledge as a result of the project; and the otherwas to relate the results of the pre-CHEAKS to the case study results (Table 3).To investigate the improvement of Kfar Vradim students in environmental knowledgeas a result of the collaborative industry project with environmental awareness, a t-test anda Wilcoxon test were carried out. The t-test for Kfar Vradim students indicates that theyimproved their knowledge signicantly by an average of 23.8 points (t 4.87, p 0.0001).The Wilcoxon test results, presented in Table 4, show that intermediate-level students104 DORI AND TALSCE (WILEJ) LEFT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of testBase of textTABLE 4Wilcoxon Scores for Kfar Vradim Students Pre- to Postcourse Improvement inCHEAKS KnowledgeLevel NMeanDifference SD Z PIntermediate 26 27.9 44.9 2.52 0.0118High 20 17.8 42.7improved their environmental knowledge more than the high level ones. This can beattributed to the ceiling effect.Analysis of Student Responses to the Case StudyStudent responses to the rst assignment of the precourse (Karmiel Road) case studydealt with understanding and presenting the objectives of each type of stakeholder, ex-pressing value judgment, and understanding the landscape characteristics.Understanding the stakeholder interests required that the student recognizes industrysinterest in manufacturing and marketing, where economic considerations are most impor-tant. Environmentalists, on the other hand, want to protect the wildlife, leave landscapesundeveloped, and prevent damage to habitats and ecological systems.Based on these assessment criteria, what follws are exemplary answers students providedfor each of the three stakeholder groups in the TefenKarmiel Road case study, namelythe industry proponents, the environmentalists, and the engineers, along with an indepen-dent students opinion:(a) Industrialist: I really dont understand why you environmentalist oppose the idea ofthe road passing in the shortest way. Our transportation must be fast and easy. This regionis based on industry and were sure that good access is part of our success . . . How dowe get materials as fast as possible? Only through that road! How do we ship our products?Of coursethe same way!The student speaking for the industrialist understood the role of industry in society,using the industrys way of thinking, although he did not use any value judgment. Heunderstood the regions characteristics and gave three arguments in total:(b) Environmentalist: We cant ruin what we cant create or rebuild! So why do you insiston this plan? We have to choose either to destroy the cliff or to change the path 5 km tothe west, so it wont harm anything. We think that a person who is aware of the facts willnot have difculties in choosing the right way.The student speaking for the environmentalist, who used two arguments, understood theregions uniqueness, presented the ideas of the environmental groups, and also used valuesas an argument:(c) Engineer: I support the solution proposed by the environmentalists, because it keepsmost of the cliff, and other villages will enjoy being close. I dont think that the industri-alists will suffer if this solution is adopted.FORMAL AND INFORMAL COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS 105SCE (WILEJ) RIGHT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of textBase of textTABLE 5Criteria and Examples for Student Responses to the Precourse Case StudyAssignmentIdentifying the Dilemma andComplexity of the Problem Value-Based JusticationsFeasibility of ProposedSolution Life in the region is based onindustry. Easy access is part of oursuccess. Decision has to be made be-tween destroying the cliffand changing the path. Whoever is aware of thesituation should have nodifculty in choosing theright solution. We cant ruin what wecant create. The road will cross thecliff close to the westside. The way will still beshort and comfortable. Our plan keeps mostof the cliff.The above citation reected the dilemma the student faced and demonstrated that shegained insight into the problems involved in making conscious decisions of this type, whichrequire trade-off among conicting interests.The method we followed consisted of collecting and screening the student responses,such as those just presented. We then dened assessment criteria, validated the criteria bythree experts, classied the responses, and validated our classication by experts and teach-ers.Listed in Table 5 are criteria and exemplary student responses to the case study assign-ments. Complete documentation was provided by Tal (1998).Following a careful examination of the responses we dened ner assessment criteriafor each question in the assignments, and the score was dened on a 15 scale. Severalexamples of the scoring criteria are presented in Table 6.As noted, the second case study was administered after the project ended and was usedfor the postcourse assessment and comparison with the previous precourse case study. Themean difference between the postcourse case study and the precourse case study for theKfar Vradim population (N 42) was 34 points, from 24 to 58 (SD 14.9). Thisimprovement was found to be signicant (t 4.5; p 0.0001).Analysis of the Case Study vs. CHEAKS ResultsTo relate the case study scores to the CHEAKS scores, Figure 1a includes a plot thatshows the pre- and postcourse CHEAKS knowledge and the case study scores. The im-provement for the entire population was signicant ( p 0.0001) in both knowledge andthe high-order thinking skills required in the case study assignments. Figure 1b is a plotof the improvement in scores from pre- to postcourse CHEAKS knowledge and the casestudy for intermediate- and high-level students. The difference in improvement betweenthe intermediate- and high-level students was signicant ( p 0.03) in regard to CHEAKSknowledge. The difference in improvement between these two groups was not signicantin the case study (Fig. 1).This nding shows that the intermediate-level students improved more than the high-level students in CHEAKS knowledge scores, whereas the high-level students improvedmore than the intermediate-level students in the case study scores. This difference inimprovement can be explained by the fact that the case study was a more intellectuallydemanding task than the knowledge test, and therefore the high achievers improved in itmore than their intermediate counterparts.106 DORI AND TALSCE (WILEJ) LEFT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of testBase of textTABLE 6Criteria and Examples for the Precourse Case Study Assignment ScoringAssignment Score Scoring Criterion ExampleAn explanation and anexample for the de-struction of the nat-ural view in the site.High (5) Well-founded argu-ments and expla-nations related tonature and land-scape in this par-ticular site.Destruction of the landscape(in this site) concerns ru-ining of beautiful sceneryin order to build infrastruc-ture for industry and todestroy habitats of ani-mals and plants.Low (1) A simple minded ar-gument withoutany example.Destruction of the landscapeconcerns ruining the viewin an ugly way.An explanation of theeconomic problemsinvolved.High (5) A response contain-ing a spectrum ofarguments fromthe domains ofeconomy and na-tional/societal con-siderations.We must construct the roadto transport materials andproducts. Without a roadwe will lose a lot of moneyon transportation, wellstop manufacturing due tononprotability, and theentire country will lose. Ifwe change the roadsroute it will make it moreexpensive and the con-struction will take longer.Low (2) A response that doesnot explain theproblematic situa-tion.We think the road should bemoved 5 km west. Noth-ing will happen to the in-dustrialists if they travelsome more.Figure 1. (a) Total score in the pre- and post-course of CHEAKS and the case study (b) Improvement in thepre- and post-course of CHEAKS and the case studyFORMAL AND INFORMAL COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS 107SCE (WILEJ) RIGHT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of textBase of textThe correlation between pre-CHEAKS and pre-case study was 0.547 ( p 0.0001). Thecorrelation between pre-case study and post-case study was 0.501 ( p 0.0016). The casestudy questionnaire thus gave the teachers an alternative assessment tool for assessingintermediate students who do not get high scores in formal written tests that are mainlybased on knowledge and understanding.Community Involvement: Student/Parent Attitudes and Teachers RoleThe role of the parents and community members in this collaborative project settingwas very important, as the school sought to establish and foster their long-term involve-ment. Parents and students alike expressed positive attitudes and recommended that thisframework be carried over in future years. Several students asked when the next case studywould be presented.Students were interviewed regarding the use of the case study. Ninety-ve percent ofthe 19951996 student population (N 54) were eager to get details about the next casestudy, such as whether it was going to be real or ctitious. The rest were more critical,indicating that this type of study and assessment prevented them from demonstrating whatthey had studied. In what follows are four of the positive expressions and two negativeones (Tal, Dori, & Lazarowitz, 1996):I liked it because its like in real life.I discussed the case at home and asked my parents for their opinion.I didnt have to memorize anything.I enjoyed playing different roles in the debate.I didnt like it because it does not show that I study well and have the knowledge . . .I am disappointed because this is not a test in which I can use the things we learned inclass. Its easier to talk about this issue than writing about it and being scored.Sixty-nine percent of the students asked to visit the site around which the TefenKarmiel Road was to be built and also to get a second chance to express their opinionsfollowing the visit. Moreover, 5% of the students reported to the class that, after the eldtrip, they took their families to observe the site.Parent interviews concerned the entire collaborative project setting. Excerpts from par-ents responses at the end of the project about its merits are given in what follows:Mother A: I cant explain how much I enjoy joining the project. Other parents are joiningthe group as well. It is surprising because the hours are impossible . . . The group at-mosphere is great and the kids are working wonderfully. There isnt any competition andthis is what makes me very glad.Mother B: The project made me know my son from a different perspective. I have wit-nessed new abilities I did not know he had . . . Friendly connections are being builtevery day. They eat together, play and work together, and even when we nish the meetingthey wouldnt go home.Father A: Its great! I never imagined that it would touch me this way. The issues I bringto the discussion are like the ones I present to my college students. The survey we madeand analyses of its results were done professionally . . . Very few dont cooperate, mostof the kids are ready for the meetings and they make us meet more than we thought before.108 DORI AND TALSCE (WILEJ) LEFT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of testBase of textFather B: If I knew how much work it is Im not sure Id join . . . I cant complainbecause its interesting. I think the project is worth years of school . . . I feel that mycontribution is for better learning and doing it with my son is the prize I get. Im luckybecause my other child is only in rst grade.Parent mentors asked for help and discussed many issues with the teachers. All of themfunctioned until the end of the project and some brought other parents or spouses for help.The teachers who led the project were key players. They contributed to the success ofthe program. They linked the formal schoolwork with the evening informal activities andtook an active part in both the formal and the informal learning modes. They helped theparents guide the groups, solved managerial problems, and coordinated details betweenthe schools requirements and the industrial setting as well as parents beliefs and ideas.The most common complaint concerned the time requirements, which were almost im-possible, as one teacher said:I almost divorced my family during the project period. Its a period when you have towork day and night, run from school to student homes, return to the computer center andvice versa.One of the teachers functioned as a guiding parent in the 19941995 academic yearand as a teacher in the project in 19951996. Finally, she became the project coordinatorin 19961997. After the second year she contributed to the working conditions of theteachers:I made a condition that we [the teachers] would get paid extra, because of the project. Itsnot a big sum of money but it gives us some feeling that we get recognition for thisincredible work. Im sure that teachers in school believe in the project as a unique way ofdealing with our society goals, but we cant keep being volunteers for years.As a result of the exhibition and the enthusiasm of the experts and the community, twoproductsTeuron (a lighted sign for each house in the village) and Safsalego (theLego street bench)which got most of the votes, have been manufactured in mass pro-duction and are positioned throughout the village.DISCUSSION AND RECOMENDATIONSWe have proposed a model for STS learning through a collaborative industry projectthat involves students, parents, teachers, and the community at large. The major elementsof the curriculum are as follows: The yearly project, which engages students in industry with environmental aware-ness. The use of relevant case studies to assess the formal and informal science learningoutcomes. The incorporation of industrial and environmental elements into the curriculum,adapted for a community school.The approach is in line with Posch (1993), who argued that emotional involvementhas to be balanced with reective and creative action, and that strong emotions supportedFORMAL AND INFORMAL COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS 109SCE (WILEJ) RIGHT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of textBase of textby solid facts can play an important part in the process of learning in environmentaleducation.The contribution of this study is threefold. The rst contribution is to the growing bodyof knowledge on informal education. This is achieved through the establishment of con-structivist relationships between formal and informal learning activities. The second con-tribution is the development of an innovative, collaborative, project-based approach inenvironmental education, in which the community at large is involved. The third contri-bution concerns the development, implementation, and validation of an integrated formal/informal assessment system tailored to the unique learning environment. In this system,the students learning outcomes are assessed formally through CHEAKS knowledge ques-tionnaires and case studies dealing with real-life problems in the students region. Theinformal assessment is based on their group performance in carrying out the collaborativeproject. The exhibition, in which the informal learning products are presented, is in linewith Sizer (1992) to promote the exhibition as a motivating learning environment.Many researchers have argued in recent years that a positivist view of scientic knowl-edge is no longer warranted in science education (Aikenhead, 1985; Bingle & Gaskell,1994; Milar & Driver, 1987). Wide recognition that the social constructivist position maybe a more satisfactory explanation for the construction of scientic knowledge has impli-cations in conducting STS education (Hand, Treagust, & Vance, 1997). The students arebut one segment of society, so STS education takes place in the context of concern aboutcitizens being able to make decisions in a highly complex world (Bingle & Gaskell, 1994).Because constructivist learning is based on a real-life setting, it can be conducted effec-tively in a classroom atmosphere that enables free experience and inquiry (Driver & Leach,1993). Klein and Merritt (1994) indicated that independent, inquiry-based study and proj-ects are at the heart of both constructivist learning and environmental education The studentshould be able to carry out authentic assignments and to be able to defend his position.This implies that learning outside the school boundaries and formal hours is mandatoryand should involve the community at large alongside the teachers. This philosophy con-forms with the constructivist approach for assessing STS learning (Bingle &Gaskell, 1994;Driver & Leach, 1993).Involving families in science learning through interactive learning settings is one of thetargets of informal science professionals (Dierking & Falk, 1994). Informal educationalongside a formal one is most appropriate, as it addresses the community at large. Inparticular, it may enable future adult citizens to act wisely in situations involving envi-ronmental quality. Involving the community in assessing student performance is one ofthe recommendations for implementing postmodern evaluation (Russell & Willinsky,1997).STS programs often lie along the continuum between formal and informal education,as the target of learning is exposure to real-world problems. Zoller (1993) advocatedincorporating informal activities in formal education and using real environmental prob-lems as case studies. As Staley (1993) argued, effective school partnerships ought to enablestudents to apply newly acquired skills, gain an understanding of their responsibility ascitizens, and make worthwhile contributions to society. These are the characteristics of ascientically and technologically literate person (NSTA, 1982). Our research has estab-lished a model for combined formal and informal science learning through incorporatinga project as an integral part of the STS school-based curriculum. The project is a real-lifelearning experience that contributes to the development of a system approach, as indicatedby Chen and Stroup (1993).The assessment process was conducted by three groups: experts, who evaluated thepresentation at the exhibition; teachers, who assessed the case studies and analyzed the110 DORI AND TALSCE (WILEJ) LEFT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of testBase of textknowledge part of CHEAKS; and the community, which voted for the most successfulproject.As Mitchell (1992) noted, assessment managed by parents and community memberscan potentially suffer from low reliability and validity, but it has advantages. Parentalassessment can solve two potential problems with regard to assessment: parents are in-volved and support the assessment, and the students feel comfortable because they areparents who they may know. Parental involvement seems to have a major impact onlearning outcomes, as students are stimulated by their parents active roles in the project.This factor, combined with the collaborative, nonthreatening nature of the project and thereal-world experiences through case studies, constitute a unique combination that fostersactive and meaningful learning.The assessment method has been proven to be suitable for analyzing the model char-acteristics in the setting described. Our ndings indicate that the increase in the numberof valid arguments and the complexity of answers, as expressed by student responses tothe case study assignments, was signicant for both high- and intermediate-level students.The improvement in the students verbal expressive power, resulting from the intensivegroup activities, was in accord with the ndings of Lonning (1993) and Lazarowitz, Hertz-Lazarowitz, and Baird (1994). In our research, the improvement in the knowledge part ofCHEAKS was most noticeable for intermediate-level students. This supports the ndingsof Barnea and Dori (1999), who established that the improvement due the use of com-puterized molecular modeling improved the spatial ability of the average students in theexperimental group signicantly more than that of the average students in the controlgroup. There are two plausible explanations for the similar ndings of improvement in themedian groups in the CHEAKS knowledge questionnaire: one is the ceiling effect, whichprevents high achievers from obtaining a big improvement; and the other is active partic-ipation of the average students, who are usually more passive and silent in a competitive,formal setting.We also found that the effect of the collaborative project was most noticeable in theresponses of the high-level students to the case study assignments. This is in accord withDori and Herscovitz (1999). They showed that, through study of the topic of air quality,students gained a more complex view of real-world problems, posed more questions, andinternalized societal and economic considerations while considering the planned locationof a chemical plant in the nearby area. As Dori and Herscovitz noted, bringing studentsto understand conicts like those presented in the case study may encourage them to reada daily or scientic article critically and question the quality of the given information.The approach of integrating projects carried out after formal school hours, along withthe case studies, was found to be both effective and attractive to students, teachers, andparents. It is therefore recommended that this approach be implemented in schools toenhance the value of out-of-school experiences, and that experts, teachers, and the com-munity conduct real-life investigation.A number of additional case studies dealing with industry, regional development, andnature conservation have been developed. Further validation of their effectiveness as re-search tools is scheduled to be examined by implementing them in an another communityschool. A major obstacle in scaling-up the implementation of combined formal/informalscience education with its authentic assessment scheme is the need to help teachers developprofessionally. This may prove to be problematic due to the long duration of the in-servicetraining required and teachers ability to really cooperate with parents and the communityat large.This research was partially supported by the Fund for the Promotion of Research at the Technion.FORMAL AND INFORMAL COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS 111SCE (WILEJ) RIGHT INTERACTIVEshortstandardlongTop of RHBase of RHTop of textBase of textAPPENDIX 1TABLE A1Learning Topics, Main Principles, and Related Field Trips from Sixth GradeSchool-Based CurriculumLearning Topics Main Principles Field Trips1. Upper Galileegeo-graphic structure: cli-mate, water, soil,faunahabitat con-stituents.Sediment rocks, nonirrigationagriculture, biotic vs. abioticconstituents, and inuenceof man.Nearby environmentem-phasis on landscapeviews, soil, rocks, andagriculture.2. Upper Galileeland ofhigh mountains andtraditional agricul-ture, minority vil-lages.Geologic breaks, slope orien-tation, layer springs, andtraditional olive oil manu-facturing.Minority villagesterraceagriculture, layer springsand water systems, reli-gion, and cultural life.3. Settlement in the Gali-lee in the 1980stargets, achieve-ments and prob-lems.Various settlement forms, in-dustry- vs. agriculture-based economy.Tefen regionvisitingsmall villages and meet-ing settler representa-tives.4. Industry and technol-ogyhistory in Is-rael and in Tefen inparticular, industryenvironment rela-tionship.Economic independence,from idea to product: mar-ket survey, manufacturing,and marketing.Tefen regionindustrywith environmentalawareness and open mu-seum industrial park.5. Industry and environ-ment.Traditional vs. modern indus-try.Haifa Bay industrial zoneecological problems.Final Yearly ProjectGroup Work6. 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