Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Benjamin C. Herman, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Dana L. Zeidler, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stephen Thornton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Hyunju Lee, Ph.D.


authentic experiences, socioscientific issues, place-based, experiential


A perennial goal of environmental education is to produce a scientifically literate citizenry capable of negotiating and resulting complex environmental problems. Popular methods of environmental education instruction tend to overemphasize scientific content knowledge and neglect to consider ethical and moral aspects of the problem. This qualitative study examines the longitudinal association between an experiential environmental education course infused with SSI instruction and students’ environmental behaviors. The results indicate that several students’ conceptualizations of contentious environmental issues change after completing the course and specifically. Furthermore, students’ willingness to act to resolve contentious environmental issues was most closely associated with their environmental behaviors. The most significant theoretical implication of the study is the effectiveness of the SSI framework in authentic experiences. Additionally, this study supports the notion that SSI instruction in authentic experiences is an effective alternative approach to teaching environmental education.