Culturally responsive pedagogy with community stewardship effectively increased student academic achievement and engagement. A Waiʻane Intermediate teacher created opportunities for student engagement and leadership in multiple places in the community. Stewardship experiences involved place-based site visits and hands on activities such as Keawaʻula, Kaʻala Farms, Makaha, and Pōkaʻi. Through various partnerships students were able to have culturally relevant service learning experiences in the Wai’anae moku. This class incorporated Native Hawaiian values within the curriculum and grew interest for local conservation. Student’s socioemotional learning, community stewardship, and interest in natural resource management careers grew. Through a pre and post survey we see students interest in science, Hawaiian culture, language, and sustainability increased.
This study is conducted at Waiʻanae Intermediate School, located on the leeward coast of O`ahu, Hawai`i. The schools racial demographic has a 64% of Native Hawaiian students, (HIDOE, 2016).
This study looked at the effects of integrating culturally responsive pedagogy with place-based learning on students interest in future conservation careers, feelings of responsibility of this land and culture, and feeling grounded in Hawaiʻi through the Nā Hopena Aʻo outcomes. Through the school year the three main questions were asked: How do we get students to view science as fun and interesting? How do we get students to care about their place and Hawai`i conservation management? Lastly, how can we make students improve their overall well-being?
The first hypothesis was that by making content culturally relevant students could identify and understand content more successfully. The second hypothesis is that through community stewardship experiences outdoors and Hawai`i conservation organization partnerships to help restore the land, students would care more about their place. Finally, through a curriculum that integrates culturally responsive pedagogy and community stewardship experiences students would improve their sense of overall well-being.
Through the fostering of multiple partnerships students experienced many outdoor restoration project, this help build a conservation community and spark natural resource management leaders throughout the classroom. Through these partnerships students conducted field trips and activities in the Wai`anae community that helped them develop their sense of place and stewardship.
Student data was analyzed and each questionʻs Likert scale answer was averaged. The results were split per survey between Native Hawaiians (NH) and non-NH students for a pre and post. In the pre survey as seen in table 3 all questions were above a 2.8 average, however, non-NH students had overall a lower interest in culture, science, sustainability careers, feelings of belonging, respect for the land, and feeling worried about their community.
Table 3 Wai`anae Intermediate Pre Survey Results.
Table 4 Waiʻanae Intermediate Post Survey Results.
After a year of field trips, community outreach, restoration projects, conservation field trips, and research, students took the survey again. This time results were different. Table 4 shows how both NH and non-NH students average went up significantly. Students found that through community stewardship they learned to love the culture and place. This made them feel like they cared more for the land, and it really positively impacted their self identity according to the Nā Hopena Aʻo survey. Although non-NH scores are still lower than NH students, their average increased more than the NH students. The highest increase was the Interest survey, students who did not care for science, conservation, Hawaiian culture or sustainability careers were now interested. Overall, this survey shows how community stewardship and engagement through a school year can positively impact students.
A total of 91 students, (46 male, and 45 females) participated in this study. All participants were from Wai`anae Intermediate School located in Hawaiʻi, Oahu, Waiʻanae.
Participants from Waiʻanae Intermediate School were from an 8th grade science class taught by Ms. Russo in the 2017-2018 school year.
A questionnaire that consisted of four parts was administered; section one concentrated on demographics (e.g. gender, ethnicity), section two consisted of five questions shown in table 1, about participants interest in culturally responsive activities and place-based field trips. Section three asked students fifteen questions about how they feel about their community, culture, and science. Lastly, part four incorporated a survey on Nā Hopena A`o General Learner Outcomes, which focus on Hawaiian values and the total well-being of the participants, see table 2, (HIDOE, 2015).
Table 1 Likert Scale Interest Survey.
Table 2 Likert Scale Feelings Survey.
Table 3 Likert Scale Na Hopena A`o Survey.
Students were given this survey at the beginning and the end of the school year, reflecting on activities, field trips, interest and feelings in Hawaiian culture, science, and their overall well-being. Data will be analyzed by collecting the average score per question and comparing Native Hawaiian and non-Native Hawaiian students average.
The hypothesis was that all students, especially Native Hawaiian students could identify and understand content more successfully when presented with a place-based and culture-based curriculum. The integration of community stewardship experiences and partnerships with Hawaiʻi conservation organizations students would strengthen a sense of place, and their overall self-identity. The results show a higher average for Native Hawaiian students in all categories.
Some limitations of this study was a small sample size, especially for non-NH students. A non mesurable outcome was that students that did not care about school, or felt continuously defeated or uninterested in school found passion and pride. Watching students develop a sense of place and responsibility was the highlight of my work. Building partnerships and letting students explore and understand the Waiʻanae community and resources has created a bridge between what seems impossible, useless science, to relevant fascinating science. The ultimate goal was for our students to feel successful and confident as a scientist while working in the community and finding solutions to our local problems. Through these experiences and students have seen successful careers in conservation, land management, and restoration. For future research a pre and post qualitative data survey can be given to see the reason behind some of their responses. Another factor could be looking at student grades and showing progress of grades throughout the year.