MWEEs support high-quality teaching and learning by actively engaging students in building knowledge and meaning through hands-on experiences. In these experiences, the core ideas and practices of multiple disciplines are applied to make sense of the relationships between the natural world and society. The MWEE definition has been designed to support state science and social studies standards and align with standards-based initiatives, including STEM education; the Common Core State Standards; Next Generation Science Standards; and the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. The MWEE definition also reflects research-based instructional models, including place-based education, the NAAEE Guidelines for Excellence, and Investigating and Evaluating Environmental Issues and Actions (IEEIA).
“There is a mountain of evidence that suggests environmental education is a powerful way to teach students. Over 100 studies found that it provides transformative learning opportunities. There is no doubt that environmental education is one of the most effective ways to instill a passion for learning among students.”
- Dr. Nicole Ardoin, Stanford University Graduate School of Education and Woods Institute for the Environment
Increased Student Engagement
By involving students in research about local issues that affect their schools, neighborhoods, and communities, MWEEs reach beyond textbooks and connect more authentically to the lives of students. Conducting hands-on, outdoor investigations and meaningful action projects related to real-world issues fully engages students as active learners.
MWEEs provide the opportunity for students to engage in problem-solving situations that place learning in the context of their daily lives. When this sort of life-relevant, student-centered learning is integrated into the curriculum or used to connect and organize themes across the curriculum, students are better equipped to meet academic standards.
Advance 21st Century Skills
MWEEs ask students to think critically, solve problems, employ analytical skills and higher-order thinking, and communicate effectively. These skills are essential to prepare a workforce ready for the innovation and challenges of the 21st century. In addition, today’s economy offers tremendous opportunities for careers directly related to the environment. MWEEs can help prepare students for these jobs.
Promote Environmental Stewardship and Civic Responsibility
A student’s years in school provide a unique opportunity to build the knowledge, skills, and motivation to make informed decisions regarding complex and evolving environmental issues. MWEEs prepare students for this civic responsibility by having them examine local issues and take action to help their community.