In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, causing an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil to spill into the ocean before its containment. Today, scientists and environmental researchers are still determining the true environmental impacts of the spill, including the negative affects to wildlife and those living on the coast.
Disasters like the Deepwater Horizon explosion underscore the need for greater consideration of the environmental impacts of human beings. Helping the next generation develop a deeper understanding of these impacts are environmental science teachers – teachers who blend environmental awareness with traditional scientific methodology.
These teachers must perfect their research, communication, and assessment skills in order to best serve their students. Helping them reach this level of perfection are master’s programs in environmental science, giving teachers advanced knowledge about ecosystems, curriculum design, teaching methods, and ecology. Armed with this knowledge, teachers prepare their students to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the future.
How will a graduate degree in environmental science help me as a teacher?
Master’s degree programs in environmental science provide teachers with expanded opportunities to investigate and hypothesize how certain stimuli in an ecosystem will affect it. While they focus on environmental concerns, these teachers are first and foremost science educators. Environmental science teachers need a thorough understanding of the scientific method, and how to test environmental variables in a laboratory setting.
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These laboratory exercises help teachers develop teaching and learning practices based on inquiry – a key aspect of any successful environmental science class. With a better understanding of inquiry-based learning, teachers are better able to design laboratory experiments where students learn by doing instead of simply listening to lecture.
Environmental science programs provide teachers with expanded knowledge of their particular content areas, from geology to oceanography. Teachers will review the history of the field, while additionally learning of new research driving discoveries in environmental science.
Master’s programs in environmental science also place heavy emphasis on stewardship of the planet and natural resources. Teachers learn how to assess the consequences of human actions on the planet, and how to become advocates for environmental preservation. Coursework in communication, research, and advocacy helps teachers explain these concepts to students by providing them with sources that prove these human effects.
For example, teachers in master’s programs develop more advanced research tools that foster inquiry-based teaching practices. Teachers explore primary and secondary research sources and sift through data to draw conclusions about environmental impacts. Then, they take this data and use critical thinking skills to hypothesize solutions.
This data interpretation skill also comes into play when teachers assess their students’ learning outcomes. With a greater understanding of how to interpret grade patterns, educators can adjust their teaching practices to fit individual needs.
Subjects Taught: Environmental Science
- Foundations of Environmental Education
Review the history, curriculum, and teaching practices needed for successful student learning outcomes in environmental science.
- Assessment, Evaluation, and Research in Environmental Education
Examine causes, processes, and impacts in environmental science and conduct research on problem areas in the environment. Learn to evaluate and critically examine research for proper scientific processes and outside challenges to that research.
- Designing Environmental Science Experiences
Develop a greater understanding of effective laboratory experiments and better approaches to inquiry-based learning. Take students into the field and keep them on track in immersive experiences.
- Environmental Science Content: Ecosystems
Explore the qualities of various ecosystems, and how outside forces could derail the fragile structure. Learn how to describe a variety of biomes to students and the differences between those biomes.
- Environmental Issues: Investigation and Action
Expand your knowledge of challenges in the environment, and propose solutions to those problems based on the scientific process.
Master’s programs in environmental science aim to increase public awareness of environmental concerns. Because of this, many programs specifically focus on developing leadership qualities in teachers. Teacher leaders and administrators have wider impacts on the student population, allowing a greater population of students to understand the challenges we face.
How will a graduate degree in environmental science help my students?
With a greater understanding of content and pedagogy, master’s-level environmental science teachers help foster inquiry-based learning practices in their students. Many courses in environmental science stress the need to get students out of the classroom and into the field, allowing them to witness environmental issues first-hand.
Master’s programs allow teachers to research and explore more field experiences for their students, in additional to enhancing their understanding of the various biomes they explore. Field experiences help motivate students who may have only held a slight interest in the subject before. Highly effective teachers who guide students through these field experiences with the help of knowledge gained through their master’s programs ensure greater learning outcomes.
Want to know more?
If you’re interested in learning more about earning a master’s degree in environmental science, research and contact schools offering graduate programs in education. Pick your state from this map representing Master’s in Education programs throughout the country.