Great Lakes Education Program gets high marks from teachers
Evaluations show classrooms benefit from experience. Next session begins soon!
August 31, 2016 - Author: Steve Stewart, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant
This fall the Great Lakes Education Program (GLEP) will conclude its 26th year of classroom and vessel-based education in southeast Michigan. Why should teachers participate in our upcoming 2016 fall season? It could be the numerous awards the program has received at the state and national levels, or because it has been developed and kept current by participating teachers. Evaluations from the 2016 spring season describe many more reasons.
In May and June, more than 90 teachers and their classes joined the Great Lakes Education Program on the water with educational cruises conducted on both Lake St. Clair/Clinton River, and Lake Erie/Detroit River. Each teacher used the GLEP curriculum with their students in the classroom both prior to and following their field day. On their field day, they spent half their time on our schoolship and the other half on shore with interpretive educators from our partners, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks.
Teachers were asked to complete an online evaluation following the field day and we received completed evaluations from 33 of the 90 teachers (37 percent) and of those, 79 percent were GLEP veterans. One set of questions asked teachers to assess individual learning activities conducted on the GLEP schoolship. These activities included conducting water chemistry tests, taking samples from the lake bottom, towing a plankton net, and using navigation charts. Teachers were asked to rate each activity on a 1 (poor) to 4 (excellent) scale. The results? Activities received teacher ratings ranging from 3.5 to 3.9. They were also asked to give the program an overall rating reflecting its educational value to their students, and the average response was 3.9. One teacher commented, “The students loved all of activities. ‘Best field trip ever!’ was heard from many of the students.” Perhaps this is why 61 percent of the teachers said GLEP education is “much better” than other experiential education opportunities.
What the teachers do in the classroom before and after the field day is also critical to the success of the program. The GLEP curriculum, which was developed by and for teachers, received an average rating of 3.5. One teacher said, “It was very apparent the book was created with educators. I liked the layout and all the parts to each lesson and its research for those lessons.” Teachers also gave GLEP education a rating of 3.6 in terms of helping them meet state educational standards.
We also try to assess differences in behavior on the part of teachers following their participation in GLEP education. We found that 96 percent of those who were veteran GLEP teachers shared GLEP program information with their fellow teachers, 84 percent included more Great Lakes content in their classroom, 79 percent encouraged other teachers to participate, and 19 percent involved their students in Great Lakes stewardship activities. One teacher said “We created brochures to explain things about the Great Lakes, including invasive species and what can be done to help get rid of them. They presented this to other classes.”
And 92 percent of the veteran teachers said that they felt a greater responsibility for the Great Lakes following their GLEP education experience. No doubt they shared that sense of stewardship with their students.
Registration is now open for the fall 2016 Great Lakes Education Program season, which runs from early September through October. For more complete information on the program, the fall season calendar, our locations, cost, and how to register, simply go to the Great Lakes Education Program website.
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Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.