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Environment identity development

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Title:
Environment identity development exploring the formative experiences and mental models of teachers engaged in environmental education
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Mason, Hillary Marie ( author )
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Denver, CO
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University of Colorado Denver
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English
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Environmental education ( lcsh )
Identity (Psychology) ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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This investigation explores the formative experiences and mental models teachers engaged in environmental education attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment, and how these factors might shape teachers' environment identity. Environment identity has been shown to be an important antecedent of environmental preferences, intentions and behaviors; yet, environmental education has taken only minimal efforts to include theories of identity into its research. This study suggests that teachers engaged in environmental education have an environment identity that is shaped by the experiences they consider formative to the development of their relationship with the environment and the mental models they use to conceptualize the environment. Participants of this case study included three teachers at an urban Early Childhood Education (ECE)-8 school who actively utilize some form of environmental education as part of their everyday classroom instruction. Identity theory was used as a theoretical framework to further understand how teachers' formative experiences and mental models might shape their environment identity, or the set of meanings they attach to themselves in relation to the environment. Methods used to elicit this information included online survey, autobiographical narrative, semi-structured individual interview, and focus group discussion. Data analysis followed an interpretive approach where relevant themes and categories were allowed to emerge from inductive coding processes. The finding of this study revealed similarities in the types of formative experiences and mental models teachers attributed to the development of their relationship with the environment. Furthermore, teachers' formative experiences and mental models shaped their environment identity by assigning significance to certain meanings for how they viewed themselves in relation to the environment. These shared meanings included being connected to, aware of, and responsible for the environment. The results of this study inform environmental education by illuminating elements and processes of environment identity development. Additionally, the theoretical and practical implications for supporting environment identity development through environmental education are discussed.
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Thesis:
Environmental sciences
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Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences
Statement of Responsibility:
by Hillary Marie Mason.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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892088477 ( OCLC )
ocn892088477

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Full Text
ENVIRONMENT IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT: EXPLORING THE FORMATIVE
EXPERIENCES AND MENTAL MODELS OF TEACHERS ENGAGED IN
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
by
HILLARY MARIE MASON
B.S., University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2000
B.S., Peru State College, 2003
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Science
Environmental Sciences
2013


This thesis for the Master of Science degree by
Hillary M. Mason
has been approved for the
Environmental Sciences Program
by
Bryan Wee, Chair
Brad McLain
Katie Navin
November 15, 2013


Mason, Hillary, M. (M.S., Environmental Science)
Environment Identity Development: Exploring the Formative Experiences and Mental
Models of Teachers Engaged in Environmental Education
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Bryan Wee.
ABSTRACT
This investigation explores the formative experiences and mental models teachers
engaged in environmental education attribute to the development of their relationship
with the environment, and how these factors might shape teachers environment identity.
Environment identity has been shown to be an important antecedent of environmental
preferences, intentions and behaviors; yet, environmental education has taken only
minimal efforts to include theories of identity into its research. This study suggests that
teachers engaged in environmental education have an environment identity that is shaped
by the experiences they consider formative to the development of their relationship with
the environment and the mental models they use to conceptualize the environment.
Participants of this case study included three teachers at an urban Early Childhood
Education (ECE)-8 school who actively utilize some form of environmental education as
part of their everyday classroom instruction. Identity theory was used as a theoretical
framework to further understand how teachers formative experiences and mental models
might shape their environment identity, or the set of meanings they attach to themselves
in relation to the environment. Methods used to elicit this information included online
survey, autobiographical narrative, semi-structured individual interview, and focus group
discussion. Data analysis followed an interpretive approach where relevant themes and
categories were allowed to emerge from inductive coding processes. The findings of this


study revealed similarities in the types of formative experiences and mental models
teachers attributed to the development of their relationship with the environment.
Furthermore, teachers formative experiences and mental models shaped their
environment identity by assigning significance to certain meanings for how they viewed
themselves in relation to the environment. These shared meanings included being
connected to, aware of, and responsible for the environment. The results of this study
inform environmental education by illuminating elements and processes of environment
identity development. Additionally, the theoretical and practical implications for
supporting environment identity development through environmental education are
discussed.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Bryan Wee
IV


DEDICATION
I dedicate this work to my family, friends, and mentors who provided unconditional
support during my masters degree experience.
v


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I would like to thank my committee advisor and mentor, Dr. Bryan Wee, for
making this thesis possible. Dr. Wee spent an incalculable amount of time and energy
devoted to helping me reign in my own thoughts on the complex concept of environment
identity. Not only did he challenge me to think beyond my own realm of knowledge, he
believed in me at times when I didnt believe in myself. For this I am eternally grateful,
and I hope to pass along this academic genealogy to my own graduate students one
day.
vi


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION...........................................................1
Background...........................................................1
Statement of the Problem.............................................2
Significance of the Study............................................5
Research Questions...................................................7
Conceptual and Operational Definitions...............................7
Thesis Overview......................................................9
II. RESEARCH DESIGN AND STUDY CONTEXT.....................................10
Theoretical Framework...............................................10
Epistemological Foundations.........................................12
Research Design.....................................................13
Study Site..........................................................14
Participants........................................................18
Data Collection Methods.............................................20
Data Analysis.......................................................26
III. LITERATURE REVIEW.....................................................29
Significant Life Experiences........................................31
Mental Models.......................................................36
IV. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION................................................40
Identity Profiles...................................................41
Formative Experiences...............................................50
Mental Models.......................................................67
Shaping Environment Identity........................................79
vii


V. IMPLICATIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR RESEARCH
85
Implications..........................................85
Future Directions for Research........................90
Conclusion............................................92
REFERENCES.................................................93
APPENDICES................................................102
A. EfS MISSION AND STANDARDS.........................103
B. ENVIRONMENTS TASK, PART I........................ 104
C. ENVIRONMENT IDENTITY BIPOLAR SCALE................105
D. ENVIRONMENT IDENTITY BIPOLAR SCALE RESULTS........106
E. ENVIRONMENTS TASK, PART I RESULTS.................107
F. AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NARRATIVE PROMPT.................Ill
G. INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW GUIDE........................112
H. FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE......................113
viii


LIST OF TABLES
Table
1. Participant Demographics....................................................19
2. Methods Overview............................................................21
3. Dougs Identity Pile Sort...................................................43
4. Mollys Identity Pile Sort..................................................45
5. Allens Identity Pile Sort..................................................47
6. Summary of Teachers Mental Models of the Environment.......................68
7. Teacher Meanings for Environment Identity...................................82
IX


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
1. EfS Bulletin Board At TGS................................................16
2. Miles &Huberman (1994) Conceptual Model for Data Analysis................27
3. Dougs Drawing of the Environment........................................69
4. Mollys Drawing of the Environment.......................................72
5. Allens Drawing of the Environment.......................................75
6. Hypothetical Model Relating Formative Experiences, Mental Models, and
Environment Identity........................................................81
x


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Background
"After many years of scientific domination of the decline of environmental quality,
environmental issues are now increasingly recognized as legitimate social and global
issues with distinct implications for children's education" (Hart, 2003, p. xiii-xiv).
Environmental and social problems, at one time possibly considered abstract and
far removed from our daily lives, continue to evolve into complex, interdependent issues
of personal relevance. At the heart of these problems are the human-environment
relationships that provide the context and capacity for environmental sustainability and
human well-being. It is in the different ways individuals and communities construct their
relationship with the environment, and the meanings they attach to themselves in relation
to the environment, that have implications for an environmental education that ensures a
healthy, just, and resilient planet (Kyburz-Graber, 2013).
Central to environmental education efforts is the production of knowledgeable
and aware citizens who are motivated to actively engage in environmental decision-
making and problem solving (Stapp et al., 1969). In some cases, traditional educational
approaches used to support this vision attach importance to ecological knowledge transfer
and behavior change (Coyle, 2005; Hungerford & Volk, 1990), while neglecting
individual and social perspectives. As environmental problems make their presence felt in
our daily lives, it is not only knowledge but also our environment identities that
determine our motivation to know and act. Specifically, the way that we identify
1


ourselves in relation to the environment influences what we perceive to have meaning
and shapes our response to environmental changes.
Statement of the Problem
Environmental education is intended to engage humanity to make informed
decisions and take knowledgeable actions to address complex, multi-faceted issues such
as climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, urbanization, ecosystem
mismanagement, and overconsumption of natural resources (UNESCO, 1997).
Embedded in this and other visions for environmental education is the importance of
conceptualizing the environment in its totality such that it represents a complex of
natural, built and social components in the life of humanity (UNESCO, 1978, p. 26).
Environmental education is designed to enable all people to construct their own
understandings of how they view the environment and environmental problems in order
to make useful contributions to the world around them (UNESCO, 1978). Consequently,
it is under the premise of these foundational principles of environmental education that
further explorations into the link between identity, environment, and education can
progress.
The intentions of environmental education become problematized upon the
realization that each of us possesses distinct identities with attributes that regulate how
we situate and perceive ourselves in different roles and contexts (e.g. in the environment,
as a researcher, as a teacher, as a learner). The following sections briefly illuminate some
tensions that exist when considering identity in specific roles relevant to environmental
education.
2


Identity and the researcher in environmental education. Identity is a
multidimensional concept that reaches across disciplines of environmental psychology,
environmental sociology, environmental science, and environmental education. Current
literature in these different disciplines acknowledges the reciprocal relationship that
exists between identity and the environment (Blatt, 2013; Clayton, 2012; Stets & Biga,
2003). Given the interdisciplinary nature of identity research, however, there are just as
many ways to investigate identity and the environment as there are identities. For
example, from an environmental psychology perspective, research on identity and the
environment might emphasize internalized attributes of moral and emotional identity to
assign significance to an individuals relationship with the environment (Clayton, 2003).
Environmental sociologists might focus on the social component of identity development
in certain environments or within specific groups of people (Stets & Biga, 2003). While
not as prevalent in the literature, environmental science education researchers may
combine approaches from both natural and social sciences to understand how learners
develop an identity in relation to the environment and how this identity is applied in
environmental problem solving (Blatt, 2013). Despite similar research objectives, the
variation of different approaches used to explore relationships between identity and the
environment result in the fragmentation of relevant literature. This presents a challenge
for environmental education researchers to be clear in their intentions and to consider a
plurality of epistemologies, ontologies, and methodologies when exploring environment
identity (Dillon &Wals, 2006).
3


Identity and the teacher in environmental education. Concepts of identity
resonate not only with environmental problem solving approaches, but also with the
approaches we use for environmental teaching and learning. In a recent survey asking
environmental education researchers what they believed were the most relevant topics in
environmental education, Ardoin et al. (2012) identified an increasing interest in
culturally embedded learning and its implications for identity and capacity building
within the framework of environmental sustainability. The way we construct knowledge
and understanding about the environment (and education, for that matter) is a product of
social processes, experiences, beliefs, ideologies, and history. These factors influence not
only teachers conceptualizations of the environment, but also the meanings they attribute
to themselves in relation to the environment, or their environment identity. Consequently,
teachers tend to choose, design and shape their environmental education efforts in
alignment with their own identities and, ideally, the identities of their students. If teachers
attach certain meanings to how they perceive themselves in relation to the environment,
then their behaviors and actions will likely reflect these meanings in the classroom. This
presents the need for additional inquiries on the link between identity and environmental
teaching in environmental education.
Identity and the learner in environmental education. Declines in
environmental quality have long been interpreted within traditional science paradigms
advocating a discourse focused on observable facts (Gough, 2013; Hart, 2003). In these
paradigms, the way we interpret the environment and our relationship to the environment
is subject to objectification, where environmental problems are reduced to generalizable
ecological principles with minimal to no accounting for individual realities or different
4


ways of knowing (Lundholm et al., 2013). The mechanization of science presents a
challenge for understanding how diverse learners establish the competencies and capacity
to act for a healthy and sustainable future. Environmental problems and issues are
becoming increasingly complex, and scientific knowledge is often uncertain and
contested. If, as Clayton (2012) suggests, our experiences and perceptions shape the
identities that we inhabit and acquire over time, then engaging learners in environmental
education will require acknowledging how they conceptualize the environment and how
they perceive themselves in relation to the environment. This presents the need for
additional inquiries on the link between identity and environmental learning in
environmental education.
Significance of the Study
Identities are developed and shaped by the different experiences that influence
how we perceive and relate to the world around us. Once the meanings attached to any
particular identity are understood, predictions can be made for the behaviors tied to that
identity (Burke & Stets, 2009). For example, as Reitzes & Burke (1980) conclude in their
study of college students, if a person understands the identity of a student or student
identity to be academically responsible, intellectually curious, sociable, and personally
assertive, then we can assume that this person will exhibit these behaviors as a student.
The larger assumption is that these behaviors are characteristic of the identity of other
students as well (Burke & Stets, 2009).
Operating under this premise, the aim of this study is to explore different
characteristics that define the environment identity of teachers engaged in environmental
education. Given that people have a tendency to act in alignment with their identities in
5


any given situation (Burke & Stets, 2009), explorations of teachers environment
identities might further elucidate not only how teachers share their knowledge and
perceptions of the environment with students in the classroom (Desjean-Perrotta et al.,
2008), but also how students interpret teachers perceptions to construct their own
environmental understandings and whether or not they possess/express environment
identities similar to their teacher. Additionally, this is helpful for schools seeking to
emphasize environmental education in their curriculum because it provides
administrators with insights into the teaching philosophies of their teachers vis-a-vis the
environment, as well as relevant information on the kind of structure teachers need to
support new practices consistent with their beliefs.
Environmental education requires that teachers and students have an
understanding of ecological concepts such as systems and interdependence (NAAEE,
2010). It also requires the infusion and integration of social sciences and the humanities.
Research in environmental education has historically proceeded with only a limited
inclusion of human dimensions that include how people come to know, interpret, interact
with and seek meaning in their relationship with the environment. Acknowledging the
diversity of social contexts from which different individuals and communities perceive
and attach meaning to the self in relation to the environment facilitates the broader
approaches needed for environmental education research and practice to evolve (Hart &
Nolan, 1999). By exploring characteristics that define the environment identity of
teachers engaged in environmental education, this study acknowledges the significance of
the personal and social surroundings in which the environmental perspectives of different
individuals and communities are developed and materialized.
6


Research Questions
Identities are developed and shaped by the different experiences that influence
how we perceive and relate to the world around us. The broad scope of this study targets
the relationship between identity and environment in environmental education. A
narrower and more explicit focus for this study explores the formative experiences and
mental models that contribute to the environment identity of teachers engaged in
environmental education. With these aims in mind, this study is guided by the following
research questions:
1. What formative experiences do teachers engaged in environmental education
attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment?
a. How might these formative experiences shape teachers environment
identity?
2. What mental models do teachers engaged in environmental education attribute
to the development of their relationship with the environment?
b. How might these mental models shape teachers environment identity?
Conceptual and Operational Definitions
Identity is a set of meanings attached to the self that serves as a standard or
reference that guides behavior in situations (Stets & Biga, 2003, p.401). Identity theory
posits that each of us has multiple identities that are developed and activated in different
places, social structures, and relationships. The set of meanings we attach to each identity
operates as an individual point of reference or true north that guides how we perceive
and respond in different situations.
7


Environment identity is the meanings one attributes to the self in relation to the
environment (Stets & Biga, 2003, p.406). These meanings are reflected in
environmental behaviors and actions. Environment identity is viewed as one type of
identity that operates across various roles and social situations. It is also representative of
ones core identity, or sense of self in relation to something else. Acknowledging a core
identity fosters feelings of authenticity, such that one is being true to oneself (Burke &
Stets, 2009). Environment identity should not be confused with how one places the self in
relation to the environment. It should be viewed as how one perceives the self in relation
to the environment.
Formative experiences are those experiences identified as having a profound
influence on the formation and activation of an identity. They influence the development
of mental models teachers use to represent how they relate to the environment.
In this case, a teachers formative experiences contribute to how teachers view
themselves in relation to the environment and, subsequently, are viewed as one
characteristic to describe the development of an environment identity.
Mental models are internal representations of phenomena based on prior
knowledge, existing ideas or conceptions, and past experiences (Shepardson et al, 2007,
p.330). They influence the way a person perceives experiences across time and space, as
well as the degree of influence attributed to these experiences. In this case, a teachers
mental model contributes to how they view themselves in relation to the environment
and, subsequently, are viewed as one characteristic to describe the development of an
environment identity.
8


Meanings refer to the characteristics or attributes that individuals see as
representing who they are, how they feel, and what they value (Stets & Biga, 2003, p.
403). The meanings that an individual attaches to an identity are internalized and
reflected in how one perceives the self in certain situations (e.g. social roles, membership
in a group). In this case, the meanings that teachers attach to their environment identity
are influenced by formative experiences and mental models, which in turn influence
behaviors and actions.
Thesis Overview
This chapter presented an introduction to the study, background and problem
statement, purpose, research questions and study significance. Chapter II presents a
theoretical framework, defines concepts, explains philosophical foundations, and
describes research design, site selection, participants, data collection methods and
analysis. Chapters III provides an overview of relevant literature on formative
experiences and mental models in the context of environmental education. Chapter IV
presents findings and a discussion on the formative experiences and mental models
contributing to the development of teachers environment identity. Chapter V is focused
on the implications of this research for environmental education as well as directions for
further study.
9


CHAPTER II
RESEARCH DESIGN AND STUDY CONTEXT
Theoretical Framework
The key to understanding qualitative research lies with the idea that meaning is
socially constructed by individuals in interaction with their world. (Merriam, 2002, p.3)
The concept of identity recognizes how individuals see themselves in terms of the
meanings they perceive from their affiliations and interactions in social structures and the
roles they play within those structures (Stryker, 1980). As we act upon our identities, we
influence the structure of society. Conversely, existing social structures tend to shape our
identities (Burke & Stets, 2009). This mutual relationship helps to contextualize how
individual identities are developed and how individuals in specific roles relate to the
environment. In the most recent edition of the International Handbook of Research on
Environmental Education, leading EE researchers suggest a re-orientation of
environmental education research toward the understudied areas of individuals
worldviews, belief systems, and identities (Stevenson et al., 2013). Research approaches
that offer broader insight into the connections between identity, environmental teaching
and learning can open a pathway for new inquiries on how different aspects of an identity
might influence individual courses of action in relation to the environment.
Environment identity is one aspect of environmental education that transcends the
boundaries of what we know about human-environment relationships. Environment
identity in the context of environmental education asks (a) how individuals see
themselves in relation to the environment, (b) how the meanings attached to the self in
this relationship might guide environmental teaching and learning, and (c) how this
10


learning might motivate participation in solutions to multi-faceted environmental
problems. By exploring the environment identities of teachers engaged in environmental
education, we get a glimpse of their personal perspectives on the environment and the
motivations behind why they engage in environmental education.
Research with explicit links between environmental education and identity is
limited at best. However, aspects of identity originating from different disciplines (e.g.
environmental psychology and environmental sociology) use a variety of frameworks that
can be consolidated to support efforts to explore environment identity and its implications
for environmental education theory and practice. Identity theory as a theoretical
framework allows for a purposeful exploration of the meanings that teachers give to their
environment identity.
According to the identity theory presented by social psychologists Peter Burke &
Jan Stets (2009), individuals possess standards, or sets of meanings, for how they define
and characterize themselves in relation to other people, places and things. These identity
standards are internalized and developed over time, serving as points of reference guiding
behavior and promoting authenticity. Most important for this study, identity theory posits
that people choose behaviors that are aligned with the meanings of their identities.
Using Burke & Stets (2009) identity theory, Stets & Biga (2003) suggest that, in
order to predict how one behaves, we need to examine the identities that individuals
claim and the corresponding meanings of these identities (p.398). The meanings
individuals attach to the self as a part of the environment, and vice versa, constitute their
environment identity. Identity theory then, is an appropriate theoretical lens to frame the
broad array of experiences associated with teachers environment identities in this study.
11


Epistemological Foundations
Qualitative research locates the observer in the world (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005).
It involves using a set of practices and tools to represent the realities of the knower and
the known, while attempting to make sense of the meanings people give to different
phenomena. One objective for using a qualitative approach to inquiry is to explicate the
ways people in particular settings come to understand, account for, take action, and
manage their day-to-day situations (Miles & Huberman, 1984, p.7). The emphasis of
locating teachers environment identity and the meanings they attach to this identity
makes this study suitable for using a qualitative approach.
This study is grounded in a framework that is informed by Burke & Stets (2009)
theory for identity. A guiding assumption of identity theory is that each of us develops
internal standards, or identity standards, for how we perceive ourselves in different
situations and interactions. These standards are arranged along a continuum of meanings
that we use to define the identities we inhabit. For instance, in this study, teachers
environment identity standards might be characterized by their formative experiences in
the environment and their mental models for the environment. These standards might
contribute not only to the range of meanings teachers give to their environment identity,
but also the motivation to be engaged in environmental education.
Utilizing a qualitative approach to inquiry and a theoretical framework of identity
theory to explore the environment identity of teachers engaged in environmental
education positions this study for a case study research design.
12


Research Design
The research design used for this study was driven by its research questions to
explore the formative experiences and mental models teachers engaged in environmental
education attribute to their relationship with the environment, and how these experiences
and mental models might shape the development of an environment identity. Case study
methodology was employed using a purposive study sample of 16 teachers and a
convenience sample of three teachers (cases) in one urban school. Teachers at this school
engage in some form of environmental education every day, as it is a significant part of
school culture and practice.
The use of case study in this research presented an opportunity to probe for deeper
insight and understanding using a variety of methods (Yin, 2003). This flexibility allowed
for the development of thick descriptions, or what Stake (1995) refers to as what is
perceived to be the cases own issues, contexts, and interpretations (p.450). Case study
as an approach for exploratory investigations grounded in past research opens the door
for previously unsuspected relationships that often accompany complex concepts, such as
environment identity. Given the unique nature and context of this study, using a case
study design ensured the richness and depth needed to understand the multiple
perspectives implicit in the complex phenomenon of environment identity. The three
participating teachers in this study comprised the individual cases, or unit of analysis, to
explore environment identity. Each case was bounded by the formative experiences and
mental models teachers attributed to the development of their relationship with the
environment and the meanings they attach to their environment identity. The synergy
between the self and environment was of utmost importance in providing a holistic
13


description of each case. Identity varies individually, and this research attempted to
maintain focus on the integrity of each individual case while also making room for
emergent patterns and potential comparisons across cases.
Study Site
To preserve anonymity and ensure confidentiality, pseudonyms are used for the
school and study participants. This study was conducted at Tucker Green School in the
Denver Public School District. Tucker Green School (TGS) is an Early Childhood
Education (ECE)-8 neighborhood school situated in an urban area of a city with a
population of approximately 600,000 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). The mission statement
for TGS outlines a school culture that is focused on providing learning opportunities for
its students to be leaders of a sustainable planet:
In partnership with our diverse urban community, [TGS] will provide a
hands-on, brains-on experience that includes all students, staff, families
and community, preparing all learners to lead the way toward a
sustainable, bright green future, (retrieved online, October 2013).
At the time of this study, TGS was preparing for its 4th year since opening its
doors to serve a socio-economically, linguistically, culturally, and academically diverse
community. Student enrollment was approaching over 500 students from 18 different
countries with a gender makeup of 52% male and 48% female. Ethnicity of the student
population showed a profile of 42% Anglo, 27% Latino/a, 18% African American, 3%
Asian, 2% American Indian, and 8% other. Additionally, 60% of the student population
qualified for free and reduced lunch and 20% qualified for English Language Learner
services.
14


The population of teachers at TGS at the time of this study included 37, three-
quarter to full-time teachers with ethnicity percentages of 87% Caucasian, 8% Hispanic,
and 5% African-American. Of the 37 teachers, 38% were male and 62% were female.
The average age range of teachers was 26-45 with an average of 9.75 years teaching
experience.
Site selection. TGS is a public school developed as a progressive approach to
education reform efforts. Included in this approach is the autonomy for TGS to
implement its own unique program design. This school was selected for this study
primarily because of its use of Education for Sustainability (EfS) in school functioning.
TGS is the first school in its large urban district to intentionally include sustainability as
an essential component for infusion in community culture, curriculum, instruction and
assessment practices. As a result of these efforts, TGS was one of the first in the nation to
earn the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award. This
honor recognizes schools and school districts implementing innovative best practices to
reduce environmental impact and costs, improve health and wellness, and provide
effective environmental and sustainability education (U.S. Department of Education,
2013). The following image (Figure 1) was taken at TGS and emphasizes a school culture
and community that strives toward their mission of sustainability.
15


Figure 1. EfS Bulletin Board At TGS
Curriculum context. For the purposes of this study, EfS was considered as one
form of environmental education with the goal of enhancing socio-ecological knowledge
about and concern for, human-environment interactions while empowering students to
engage in environmental behaviors within their communities. For purposes of
consistency, EfS is referred to as environmental education in this study. While this
study recognizes the epistemological and practical differences that might exist between
environmental and sustainability education, the common ground is considered most
important. Foundational principles for both environmental and sustainability education
acknowledge that environmental and social systems are interdependent. Theoretical
underpinnings of both fields also recognize that environmental, social, and economic
resilience can only be achieved by integrating aspects of individual, social, and
environmental well-being.
16


As Clayton (2012) adeptly put it: People live in environments, and in the long term
healthy individuals will not thrive in an unjust society or an unhealthy environment.
Taking action to protect the environment may have both direct and indirect benefits for
those involved. (p. 682). To reiterate, while individual epistemological differences might
exist, the theoretical goals and practical goals are the same.
EfS emphasizes a learner-centered approach for developing the knowledge and
habits of mind needed to address the interdisciplinary nature of environmental problems
and the socioeconomic issues that surround them. It is a curriculum that has an
independent structure and standards developed by the Cloud Institute (The Cloud
Institute, 2013; see Appendix A for EfS mission and standards). A typical day at TGS is
structured for project-based learning where students and teachers are often found engaged
in practical, hands-on experiences taking place throughout the energy-efficient building,
working farm and community garden, and surrounding community.
As a relatively new school, TGS is currently in the process of developing a strong
foundation of EfS programming. Current teachers are tasked with designing and
implementing interdisciplinary lessons that integrate state academic standards with the
EfS standards intended to prepare students to participate in sustainable behaviors and lead
in a sustainable future. Teachers professional development for EfS pedagogy is further
supported with 4-5 half and full day EfS workshops and one day of individualized bi-
weekly coaching with the EfS coordinator during teacher planning time (Personal
communication with school founder, September 1, 2013).
17


Participants
Participant selection. All teachers at TGS were invited to participate in an
online survey. The survey was used to obtain a glimpse of the overall environment
identity of teachers at TGS and to eventually provide a context for the individual case
studies. A sample of 16 teachers (N=16) out of 37 (43%) provided complete responses to
the online survey. Given the time constraints for teachers during a busy school year, a
convenience sample of 3 teachers (n=3) from the pool of 16 consented to continue
participating and completed the autobiographical narrative, the focus group and
individual interviews. Having only three teachers was conducive to this study given the
aim of providing a rich description of the environment identity of individual teachers
engaged in environmental education at TGS. Table 1 presents participant demographics
for two sample populations of teachers.
18


Table 1. Participant Demographics
Characteristics
Teacher Years Grade Level Subject
Teaching Years at TGS Teaching Teaching Gender
1 >5 1 K-5 All M
2 2 1 K-5 All F
3a > 10 3 ECE-8 All M
4 1 1 k-5 Reading F
5 5 1 6-8 Science M
6 4 3 ECE All F
7 5 2 6-8 English F
8 5 1 6-8 English F
9 2 2 k-5 All F
10 >5 2 k-5 All F
11 >5 1 k-5 All F
12 > 10 1 k-5 All M
13 3 2 6-8 English, ESL F
14 2 2 ECE-8 Health/PE M
15 2 1 k-5 All F
16 >10 3 k-8 All M
Average >7 2 Male = 6 Female =10
Note. Case study teachers 1, 2 and 3 are in bold.
a At the time of this study, Teacher 3 was not teaching a specific grade level and had assumed the position
of curriculum coordinator at the school. He often substitutes for teachers at all grade levels and subjects.
19


Data Collection Methods
The sources used for data collection in this study aligned with the needs of the
research questions and advocated an exploratory approach for capturing the environment
identity of teachers engaged in environmental education. Data collection methods of
online survey, autobiographical narrative, interview, and focus group were used to elicit
the formative experiences and mental models associated with teachers environment
identities. A more detailed description of the utility and purpose of each data source can
be seen in Table 2. The methods used in this study gave teachers the opportunity to
reflect on and express (a) the formative experiences they attribute to the development of
their relationship with the environment, (b) the mental models they attribute to the
development of their relationship with the environment, (c) the meanings they attach to
themselves in relation to the environment, and (d) the motivations that continue to drive
their engagement in environmental education.
20


Table 2. Methods Overview
Data
Source
Measure
Stets & Biga (2003) Bipolar Scale
u
>
s-
3
C/3
1. n= 16
2. How do you view yourself in relation to the
environment? Where would you place yourself
between each of the statements?
Shepardson et al. (2007) Environments Task, part I
1. n= 16
2. Do these images depict the environment? Justify your
answer.
3
O
§£
00 g
o fc:
3
Chawla (1999)
1. n= 3 case studies
2. Allow your thoughts to go back in time and return to
the present day. Contemplate and describe, in your
own words, the parts of your life that have shaped
(and/or continue to shape) how you know, relate to
and interact with, the environment.
<
c
T3
Oh
3
O
S-
o
C/2
3
O
o
Ph
McLain (2012) Identity Pile Sort
1. n= 3
2. Think about what best describes who you are. What is
included in your definition of me?
3. What is included in your definition of not me?
4. Think about the various identities or roles you take on
in your life. List and number each on an index card.
Please rank your identities in terms of:
a. Your perceived importance for each
b. Amount of time spent in each
c. Most pleasing to least pleasing to inhabit. Why
didyou rank this way?
d. Your ideal selfyour most desired rank order in
an ideal world. Why didyou rank this way?
5. What does it mean to you to be a teacher at TGS?
What do you feel is expected of you in this role?
6. What elements or characteristics, if any, do you bring
to the role of a teacher at TGS that are perhaps
different from the traditional or societally expected
role? In other words, what do you bring to the role
__________because you are you?________________________________
Shepardson et al. (2007) Environments Task, part II
1. n= 3
2. Describe and explain your drawing.
3. What does your drawing represent?
4. What does the term environment mean to you?
5. What does the term environment mean to you as a
teacher at TGS?
6. Is there anything else you would include in the
drawing?
7. Is there anything you did not include in your drawing?
Why didyou not include this/these things?
8. Did the experiences from your narratives contribute to
your drawing? If so, how? If not, why?
9. Did the experiences from your narratives contribute to
how you feel or act toward the environment? If so,
how? If not, why?
Utility and Purpose
primary source of information
to provide an overview or
sense of teachers' environment
identity at TGS
to contextualize the
environment identities of
teachers engaged in
environmental education at
TGS__________________________
primary source of information
for teachers formative
experiences
to identify the formative
experiences teachers attribute
to the development of their
relationship with the
environment__________________
secondary source of
information for teachers
formative experiences and
mental models
to establish and verify the
self-meanings for an
environment identity in the
context of different roles (i.e.
teacher)
primary source of information
for teachers mental models of
the environment
to identify how teachers
conceptualize the environment
to member check for
narratives
21


Online Survey. An online survey was administered to all teachers at TGS. The
primary purpose for using the instrument was to give an overview of the teachers
environment identities, their mental models of the environment, and also to contextualize
the data from the individual case studies (teachers). After listing the first three terms that
came to mind to describe the environment, teachers completed two measures in the
survey. The first measure was a component of the Environments Task used by
Shepardson et al. (2007; see Appendix B for this measure). It consisted of seven images
reflecting natural and human-managed environments. Not all of the images are identical
to the Shepardson et al. (2007) version, but they capture the essence of the original
images. Teachers were asked if they thought each picture represented an environment and
to justify their answer. This data source served as one measure to gauge teachers mental
models of the environment.
A second measure in the survey asked teachers about one dimension of
environment identity. Stets & Bigas (2003; see Appendix C for this measure) 11-item
bipolar scale measures how individuals view themselves in relation to the environment.
Teachers were prompted to place themselves between 11 bipolar statements representing
a spectrum of meanings for the self in relation to the environment. Placement along each
scale indicated an individuals perception of self as being environmentally friendly or
environmentally unfriendly. Responses ranged from 1 to 5, where 1 represented
agreement on one side of the bipolar scale (e.g. environmentally-unfriendly), and 5
represented agreement on the opposite side of the bipolar scale (e.g. environmentally-
friendly). Responses of 3 represented a neutral placement on the scale. A higher score on
the scale represents an environmentally friendly identity. The 11-item bipolar scale used
22


by Stets and Biga (2003) is the only validated tool that exists to measure environment
identity as defined within the parameters of this study. No criterion categories between
the bipolar statements have been established; Stets & Biga (2003) suggest further
research in this area. Data collected from the online survey were prepared for analysis
using the following steps:
1. Data were transferredfrom online survey format into an interactive Excel
spreadsheet for maneuverability.
2. To ensure anonymity, teacher identification labels were assignedfor all
teachers completing the survey (N=16).
3. Data were separated into three spreadsheets showing results for all items
on the survey, environments task, and bi-polar scale. This provided a
birds-eye view of the data overall and by task. Teacher responses from
each measure in the survey can be found in Appendices D and E.
4. Data were further separated by teacher into separate Word documents to
gain clarity on teachers overall environment identity as well as any
similarities and differences between teachers.
Autobiographical narratives. Autobiographical narratives offer a flexible
medium for recall of significant memories, experiences, and interpretations (Chawla,
1998). The three teachers making up the individual case studies were prompted to write a
narrative on the parts of their life that they believed to have shaped, and/or continue to
shape, how they know, relate to and interact with the environment. The prompt for the
autobiographical narrative can be found in Appendix F. Teachers were given 2 weeks to
complete the narrative and no further instructions were provided. In other words, these
23


narratives are also embedded with teachers interpretations of environment and
environment identity. The narratives were used to attain clarity on the formative
experiences contributing to how participating teachers viewed themselves in relation to
the environment. Data collected from the autobiographical narratives were prepared using
the following steps:
1. Teacher identification labels used in the online survey portion were
assigned to ensure anonymity of the three teachers participating as case.
2. Text from the narratives was triple-spaced to allow for ease in coding.
3. Line numbers were addedfor line-by-line coding.
Semi-structured individual interview. The teachers representing the three cases
in this study were asked to participate individually in a semi-structured interview.
Interviews are useful for obtaining in-depth information and gaining an understanding of
participants perspectives, beliefs, and motivations (Johnson & Christensen, 2012). For
the interview portion of data collection, teachers were asked to think about and describe
their identities and counter-identities, or what they viewed as me and not me.
Following this discussion, teachers were asked to list on index cards the various identities
they take on in their life. The list was followed up with a pile sorting activity where
teachers were asked to arrange and rank the identities on each index card according to
their perceived importance for each, the amount of time spent in each, the most pleasing
to least pleasing to inhabit, and their ideal self in an ideal world. The individual interview
guide used for this activity can be found in Appendix G. This exercise was adapted from
McLain (2012) and was used as a tool to locate the different identities each teacher
assumes according to specific criteria. It also provided information on the meanings
24


teachers give to their different identities. The results from this exercise were used to show
a cross-section, or slice of each teachers identity profile. The interview concluded with
other questions related to how teachers feel about the importance of their relationship
with the environment and their motivations as teachers engaged in environmental
education at TGS.
Focus group. Focus groups are used to collect qualitative data in the words of
the participant. They are especially useful as a complement to other methods of data
collection, and provided in-depth information in a short amount of time (Johnson &
Christensen, 2012). As a final source of data, one focus group took place with all three
participating teachers. The focus group served as a venue to administer the second
component of Shepardson et al.s (2007) Environments Task. Guiding questions for the
focus group discussion can be found in Appendix H. Teachers were asked to draw a
picture of the environment and to explain the drawing in their own words. This visual
tool was used to explore teachers mental models for the environment, and augmented the
data collected from other portions of the study. A secondary objective for the focus group
was to guide teachers in a shared reflection on select excerpts from their autobiographical
narratives. The purpose of this discussion was to verify researcher interpretations of the
narratives (member-check) and to facilitate dialogue between teachers on how past
experiences and mental models might or might not have shaped the meanings and
motivation for the environment and environmental education.
25


Data from the individual, semi-structured interviews and focus groups were
prepared for analysis using the following steps:
1. Audio were recorded and downloaded to a secure server.
2. Audio data were transcribed and teacher identification labels were
assigned to ensure anonymity of the three teachers participating as case.
3. Text from the transcriptions was triple-spaced to allow for ease in coding.
4. Line numbers were addedfor line-by-line coding.
Data Analysis
Data from each case study was analyzed using an interpretivist lens to gain insight
into the multiple realities and lived experiences of each teacher. Interpretivism assumes
that certain meanings are inherent in the way a person acts, and it is the task of the
inquirer to reveal and interpret those meanings (Schwandt, 2001). Acquiring a practical
understanding of how people define their experiences and interactions is a central concept
for interpretive qualitative inquiries (Bogdan & Biklen, 2010). Using an interpretivist
lens also implies an emphasis on the authenticity of participants voices as a window into
the subjective worlds they inhabit. This study relied on the co-construction of meanings
attained from methods of autobiographical narrative, interview, and focus group. These
strategies align with the objectives of an interpretive analysis process by facilitating a
deep understanding of the environment identity of teachers engaged in environmental
education. Utilizing these methods also account for the convictions and orientations of
the researcher and teachers in the co-construction of a rich description for environment
identity.
26


Qualitative research involves the researcher taking an active role in the collection
and interpretation of the meaning-making of others. Measures should be taken to ensure
goodness and trustworthiness. This means that the researcher should understand their
research as the participants do, and not under their own assumptions and narrow thinking
(Stake, 1995). Data trustworthiness is assessed in this study by checking for
representiveness, getting feedback from participants, and triangulating methods (Miles &
Huberman, 1994). By triangulating methods, findings could be crosschecked for validity
(Stake, 2005) while accounting for any commonalities and differences in the meanings
teachers hold for their environment identity.
Procedural overview. Miles & Huberman (1994) provide the analytical
framework used for this study in which data reduction, data display, and conclusion
drawing/verification are taking place concurrently and in a nonlinear way. Figure 2
represents the conceptual model for data analysis used by Miles & Huberman (1994,
p.12). The following sections provide a more detailed description of each step of analysis
used in this study.
Figure 2. Miles &Huberman (1994) Conceptual Model for Data Analysis
27


Step 1: Reduce the data. Data from each source were continuously simplified,
abstracted, and transformed before, during, and after collection, while ensuring that it was
not stripped from its context. Before data collection, research questions were refined,
methods, population and setting were selected, and ideas about environment identity were
abstracted into a theoretical framework. During collection, textual and visual data were
chunked, pulled out, and coded using open coding and line-by-line processes. After all
data was collected, it was reduced, transformed, and synthesized into coherent case
studies.
Step 2: Display the data. All data was organized in a way that permitted clarity,
accessibility, and conclusion drawing. Text was transformed into coded data and
displayed in a series of matrices to represent any sequential or chronological patterns and
to expose any emergent themes. The creation and use of displays was considered part of
the analysis process, and continued to evolve throughout the study as new data was being
collected.
Step 3: Draw conclusions and verify. Conclusions were inductively drawn at
every step of the data collection process. The meanings interpreted from any patterns
revealed during the analysis process were used to make conclusions that were not
finalized until the end of the data analysis process. Verification of any conclusions relied
on continuously reviewing and comparing primary data as well as member-checking
information with participants before, during, and after data was collected.
Using an interpretivist lens and Miles & Hubermans (1994) framework as an
approach for qualitative data analysis allowed for the construction of thick, rich,
descriptive case studies of each teacher.
28


CHAPTER III
LITERATURE REVIEW
Memory is the connections. Meaning comes from what something is connected to.
Something unconnected, unassociated with, unrelated to anything is literally
meaningless. (Kushner, quoted in Thomashow, Ecological Identity, p.187)
The objective of this literature review is to offer a synopsis of the most relevant
research to explore environment identity within the context of environmental education.
With roots in nature study, outdoor education, and conservation education, environmental
education has evolved over 40 years into a discourse that recognizes global and local
relationships between people, society, and environments (Disinger, 2001; Stevenson et
al., 2013). Ideally, teaching and learning in environmental education takes place in non-
formal and formal venues (Hart & Nolan, 1999), and involves interdisciplinary
transactions of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that equip students to
understand environmental and sustainability problems and actively participate in finding
solutions (UNESCO, 1997). Environmental education research covers a broad range of
topics addressing historical, theoretical, cultural and practical dimensions as well as more
targeted discussions on curriculum, instruction, and learning. However, as environmental
education inquiry advances and individuals become more removed from the natural
environment and environmental impacts, the significance of expanding our understanding
of how individual identities relate to the environment becomes a valid research endeavor.
29


Currently, there are no existing studies that use the framework of environment
identity in the context of teachers engaged in environmental education. This study seeks
to address what Reid & Scott (2013) might refer to as a blind spot (p. 521) in our
knowledge. Specifically, I am interested in two characteristics that may be used to
describe the development of teachers environment identity. These include the formative
experiences and mental models that teachers attribute to their relationship with the
environment. Exploring attributes of formative experiences and mental models might
help to elucidate the different meanings teachers attach to themselves in relation to the
environment, and how this environment identity translates into behaviors such as
engaging in environmental education.
Explorations into the significant life experiences and mental models of students
and teachers have been identified in past research as factors that influence environmental
understanding, behaviors, and action (Chawla, 1998, 1999, 2007; Desjean-Perrotta et al.,
2008; Shepardson et al, 2007; Tanner, 1980, 1998). While the direct connections between
formative experiences, mental models, and identity development are unknown, this study
asserts that these areas provide useful pathways for further explorations of identity,
namely environment identity. The following sections expand on the operational
definitions in Chapter I and provide an overview of foundational environmental
education literature related to formative experiences and mental models.
30


Significant Life Experiences
Significant life experience research provides a useful avenue for inquiries into the
formative experiences that shape environment identity. This research exists primarily in
more descriptive and interpretive forms, but lacks any specific and consistent use of a
theoretical framework (Liddicoat & Krasny, 2013). Literature in significant life
experiences is positioned in the field of environmental education and has been described
by Chawla (1999) as the formative influences recalled by people whose lives
demonstrate environmental concern (p. 15). The rationale behind most significant life
experience research originates with Tanners (1980) work to understand how people
acquire the cognitive and affective dispositions that guide active and informed citizens
committed to the goal of maintaining a varied, beautiful, and resource-rich planet for
future generations (Tanner, 1980, p.20).
Significant life experience research using qualitative methods of open-ended
survey, interview, life story, and autobiographical narrative has produced coherent results
across a broad range of adult environmental professionals in conservation, activism, and
education (Chawla, 2006). In her research on significant life experiences, Chawla
identifies the types of experiences consistently shown to influence how one feels and acts
toward the environment. Some of these experiences include: positive childhood
experiences in nature, negative experiences witnessing the destruction of a valued place,
environmental stewardship supported and modeled by family members and teachers,
involvement in environmental organizations, exposure to social or environmental justice
issues, vocations that deepen or inspire environmental commitment, and reading books or
being exposed to other media with an environmental message (Chawla, 1999).
31


While there are no studies that make explicit linkages between significant life
experiences and environment identity, this study attempts to reconcile the two by
exploring the formative experiences of teachers engaged in environmental education and
how these experiences might shape the development of their environment identity.
To contextualize the formative experiences acting as a contributing source for
environment identity development, this study pulls from environmental education
literature on significant life experiences. Research on significant life experiences is well
established in environmental education literature, and it is used here as one of many ways
to approach development of an environment identity. Significant life experience research
is rooted in the groundbreaking work of Tanner (1980, 1998), Chawla (1998, 1999, 2001,
2006, 2007), and Palmer (1993) (Palmer et al., 1998, 1999), among others. Consequently,
this study is informed primarily by research from these authors.
In his foundational efforts to illuminate the factors influencing environmental
activists choice of work, Thomas Tanner (1980) relied on autobiographical statements
and resumes from his participants. According to Tanner, an environmental activist is
defined as one who engages directly in pro-environmental political activism and/or
provides it financial support, as through contributions to activist organizations (Tanner,
1980, p.400). All but one of the responses from forty-five professionals representing
citizen conservation groups such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Nature
Conservancy, National Audubon Society, and the Sierra Club revealed positive childhood
experiences in natural habitats having a formative influence in the trajectory of their
career. Other responses recognized the influence of parents, teachers, books, and
exposure to environmental destruction.
32


The premise of Tanners significant life experience studies was to further
understanding about the experiences that motivate environmentally responsible
behaviors. If educators, and possibly even parents, are aware of these factors, then they
might be more inclined to nurture significant life experience opportunities for their
students.
In her studies of significant life experiences, Louise Chawla utilizes open-ended
interviews to extract the autobiographical memories that environmental activists from
different countries claim as having an influence on their commitment to environmental
action. Similar to Tanners 1980 study, environmental activists were viewed as those
"citizens who have demonstrated amply their informed and responsible activism" (p. 20).
In most of these studies, participants were asked to provide a description of where and
how they grew up as well as the vocational and environmental activities they were
involved in. More importantly, participants were invited to tell the story (Chawla,
1999, p. 17) of what they believe to be the sources of their commitment to environmental
protection and the personal experiences they believe to have inspired these pursuits.
Primary findings from Chawlas significant life experience research expand on Tanners
conclusions by distinguishing significant life experiences at each developmental stage of
life. For instance, childhood was considered a pivotal time for forming a foundational
relationship with the environment. A majority of the experiences contributing to the
development of this relationship took place in natural settings as a part of participants
everyday life. Other aspects Chawla found to have a positive impact on commitment to
environmental action during ones life span included adult role models, witnessing
habitat destruction, peers, education, friends, travel, organizations, books, and film.
33


Interestingly, 14 of the 56 participants in Chawlas 1999 significant life
experience study on activists from Kentucky and Norway related environmental concerns
to social concerns of equity and justice. These individuals also held the understanding
that environment and social problems are linked. At least 7 of the 14 participants relating
environmental and social justice issues traced their concerns back to experiences in
childhood. According to Chawla & Derr (2012), the value of studying the significant life
experiences of different populations resides in an understanding that if current and future
generations seek to achieve a sustainable world, then opportunities to experience and
build relationships with different environments, especially the natural environment, will
need to take place on a regular basis. As these experiences with the environment continue
to take place, relationships develop, and personal meanings are realized.
Studies in significant life experiences have been produced not only with
environmentalists, but also with environmental educators. In her 1993 study, Joy Palmer
attempts to bridge the gap between these two groups with an analysis of 232
autobiographical statements from environmental educators belonging to the National
Association of Environmental Education in the United Kingdom. Environmental
educators were viewed as citizens who have demonstrated their active environmental
concern (p.26) by helping children to learn about and care for the environment. This is
achieved by facilitating different learning experiences designed to produce active and
informed minds (p.27). Participants were asked to provide details of their demonstration
of practical concern for the environment and the experiences they feel led to this concern.
34


They were also asked to specify the most significant experience they feel
contributed to their own development of a positive attitude toward the environment and at
what time in their life this experience took place. Palmers (1993) findings align with
Tanner (1980) and Chawla (1998, 1999) as environmental educators viewed their most
formative experiences occurring in childhood and in the outdoors or under the influence
of a family member. Additional follow up investigations provide a more fine-grained
analysis of environmental educators significant life experience patterns relative to
different age groups (Palmer et al., 1998) and in different countries (Palmer et al., 1999).
The results of these studies corroborate findings (e.g. formative outdoor/nature
experiences, influential family member) from previous research.
An important assumption utilized in this study is that environmental educators
might not consider themselves to be environmental activists. The multiple meanings and
social stereotypes attached to words like activist and environment produce inherent
difficulties that make it challenging to isolate a particular identity. While they may not be
environmental activists, teachers in this study are, by virtue of their pedagogical efforts,
considered knowledgeable and aware citizens who are motivated to actively engage in
environmental decision-making and problem solving. One way this engagement takes
place is by equipping current and future generations with the cognitive and affective
competencies needed to ensure the sustainability and well-being of our planet.
35


Mental Models
Similar to significant life experiences, mental model research provides a valuable
path of inquiry to explore teachers conceptualizations of the environment and how they
contribute to the development of an environment identity.
Mental models refer to the internalized representations of knowledge that
individuals bring to a situation (Johnson-Laird, 1983). These knowledge structures are
the conceptualizations of ones personal reality of the world and how it works (Norman,
1983). They help to understand human reasoning and guide our positioning in ecological,
social, and cultural structures. Mental models can reflect pre-existing, stable knowledge
structures, as well as situation-specific knowledge structures. For instance, an individual
growing up in one type of environment (e.g. farm) for a long period of time may develop
a particular way of thinking about their surroundings. If, however, the same individual
were to re-locate to a completely different environment (e.g. city), then the existing,
stable mental model would assimilate new information and adjust accordingly. In this
way, mental models are formed from lived experiences and are constantly being
reconstructed as new understandings emerge and new meanings are realized (Johnson-
Laird, 1983;Nespor, 1987).
While literature on mental models has its roots in cognitive psychology, the
concepts have been applied in environmental education research to understand how
teacher and student conceptualizations of the environment influence their perceptions,
understandings, and behaviors in relation to the environment (Desjean-Perrotta et al.,
2008; Moseley et al., 2010a, 2010b; Shepardson, 2005; Shepardson et al., 2007).
36


If an individuals mental model of the environment is incomplete (i.e. does not
include humans or interactions, acknowledges only natural environments), the impact that
person can have on the environment may not be fully realized because they are not seeing
the self in relation to the total environment and its processes (Moseley et al., 2010b). This
may have implications for environment identity as our perceptions dictate the meanings
we attach to having a relationship with the environment and our motivations for acting in
alignment with these meanings (Stets & Biga, 2003). Consequently, there is a need for
research that exists specific to identity and mental models of the environment within the
context of environmental education.
Unlike significant life experiences, mental model research encompasses both
children and adult populations. To illuminate how mental models of the environment
might be viewed as a contributing source for environment identity development, this
study is informed by environmental education literature focused on the mental models of
students and pre-service teachers. Specifically, the remainder of this chapter highlights
the prominent work of Desjean-Perrotta et al. (2008), Moseley et al. (2010a, 2010b), and
Shepardson et al. (2007).
In their foundational research on mental models of the environment, Shepardson
et al (2007) found a majority of students to have underdeveloped conceptualizations of
the environment. In this particular study, a large, cross-age and geographically diverse
sample of students was given a two-part task to draw and explain the environment, and to
indicate and justify whether or not a series of images depicted the environment. Inductive
methods of content and statistical analysis were used to construct a typology of four
different types of mental models.
37


The mental models that emerged varied by function and the inclusion or exclusion
of different abiotic and biotic elements. Findings revealed that a majority of students
mental models for the environment either placed humans as separate from the
environment and its processes, or students viewed the environment as a resource for
living things. These findings have been corroborated in other studies of childrens
conceptualizations of the environment (Judson, 2011; Loughland et al., 2002; Payne,
1998; Wals, 1992) and suggest an approach to environmental education that is
interdisciplinary, where teachers are cognizant of the different perspectives and
experiences of learners. It also suggests environmental education that supports a mental
model of the environment that is more integrated and inclusive of different types of
environments (e.g. built, natural, industrial).
Mental model investigations similar to those of Shepardson et al. (2005, 2007)
have occurred in other areas of environmental education research, particularly in teacher
professional development and preservice teacher education programming. For instance,
Desjean-Perrotta et al. (2008) and Moseley et al. (2010a, 2010b) found that preservice
teachers drawings and explanations for the environment were underdeveloped, and
revealed anthropocentric views holding humans as superior to the environment. In their
2010 pilot study to examine the potential of the Draw-An-Environment Test (DAET) and
the Draw-An-Environment Test Rubric (DAET-R), Moseley et al. use a draw and explain
method to elicit preservice teachers mental models of the environment.
38


Information that teachers provide on the DAET is measured using the DAET-R,
which was developed using the North American Association of Environmental Education
(NAAEE) Guidelines for the preparation and professional development of environmental
educators (2010) definition of the environment.
The guidelines specify that preservice teachers should be able to:
... describe the broad view that environmental education takes of
environment, incorporating concepts such as systems, interdependence,
and interactions among humans, other living organisms, the physical
environment-and the built or designed environment. (NAAEE, 2004, p.9)
Under the premise that one should know what the environment is before being
able to fully grasp environmental issues and behaviors, the DAET tool provides teachers
with a personal understanding of the factors that shape their own beliefs and
understandings of the environment. Findings from Moseley et al. (2010a, 2010b) suggest
that preservice teachers do not consider humans to be an integral part of the environment.
This is evidenced in sixty-percent of the drawings from 118 respondents that did not
include humans as part of their drawing of the environment. From the same sample
population, Desjean-Perrotta et al. (2010) performed a separate analysis of preservice
teachers drawings of the environment and the impact of ethnicity and setting. Operating
under the assumption that sociocultural factors shape our environmental understandings,
Desjean-Perrotta et al. found these factors to have no significant influence on preservice
teachers perceptions of the environment. This information supports the aim of this study
to explore other factors that might influence how teachers perceive themselves in relation
to the environment.
39


CHAPTER IV
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
By identifying the meanings that actors attribute to their surroundings, by getting
inside their head and seeing the worldfrom their perspective, we can understand why
people do what they do. (Meltzer, Petras, & Reynolds, quoted in Burke & Stets, Identity
Theory, p. 33)
Identities provide meaning for individuals lives (Burke & Stets, 2009).
According to identity theory, an identity is comprised of a set of meanings and
expectations that serve as a reference to guide how one perceives the self in different
situations. But where do the meanings that define an identity come from? This chapter
explores this question by looking at the formative experiences and mental models of
teachers engaged in environmental education and what they attribute to the development
of their environment identity, or how they view themselves in relation to the
environment.
Recall the research questions:
1. What formative experiences do teachers engaged in environmental education
attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment?
a. How do these formative experiences shape teachers environment
identity?
2. What mental models do teachers engaged in environmental education attribute
to the development of their relationship with the environment?
a. How do these mental models shape teachers environment identity?
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In this chapter, the findings informing the research questions above are presented
with a discussion. The first section of this chapter presents an identity profile for each of
the three participating teachers. A second and third section of this chapter presents
findings of the formative experiences and mental models teachers attribute to the
development of their relationship with the environment. A final section applies findings
to the identity theory framework and presents a discussion of how formative experiences
and mental models shape teachers environment identity.
Identity Profiles
The identity profiles presented in this section reflect information collected during
the individual interviews where teachers were asked to provide a statement of what is
included in their definition of me and not me. Teachers were also asked to perform a
card sort to rank the identities they inhabit according to perceived importance, amount of
time spent, most pleasing to least pleasing, and ideal self. One purpose of providing
identity profiles is to locate teachers meanings and perceptions of self in relation to the
different identities they acknowledge. Individuals assume multiple identities in a given
setting (i.e. teacher and colleague). The identities that are of most importance to the
person in a situation are those likely to be enacted. The profiles position each teacher
within a spectrum of identities and counter-identities, or what they believe themselves to
be or not be in different situations. Burke & Stets (2009) refer to the relationship between
identities and counter identities as one that is in a state of constant negotiation. In this
case, teachers must make compromises with themselves and others on the meanings and
expectations of their individual identities. The following identity profiles provide context
for a presentation of findings on the formative experiences and mental models of each
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teacher in addition to how these characteristics shape environment identity. From this
point forward, Teacher 1 is referred to as Doug. Teacher 2 is referred to as Molly, and
Teacher 3 is referred to as Allen.
Doug. When asked to describe what is included in his definition of me, Doug
identifies his self in terms of where he is and what he is doing.
I guess I have always felt that I have these two sides. One is very active
mountain skiing, hiking, fly-fishing. I always thought I would see myself
living in a small mountain town and sort of being a ski bum. Maybe
teaching. Maybe not. So I have that side of me, which comes from where I
grew up, and growing up in the mountains. And then there is also the side
of education and the urban experience of education, which is definitely a
part of me as well (Interview, September 3, 2013).
For Doug, the urban environment is where he works and spends a majority of his
time, and the rural environment is where he grew up and still tends to recreate in. This
presents an interesting dualism between what one can and cannot do in different types of
environments. It might also exemplify the standard he holds for himself in those different
environments. Doug implies that being a teacher was optional if he lived in a mountain
town. He associates his urban experiences with his role in education, but does not do the
same when referring to the mountains. This seems to indicate that his role as a teacher
does not necessarily align with his propensity toward a lifestyle in the mountains. In his
description for what is included in his definition of not me, Doug expresses adamant
opposition to being complacent about life and his surroundings. He is always trying to
learn, to be better, and to do better things. His biggest fear is to be a middle-aged guy
with a belly, driving a minivan, punching the clock at some sort of meaningless job
behind a desk all day long and in an unhappy marriage (Individual interview, September
3, 2013). This seems to indicate that Doug is driven by some sort of purpose or meaning
42


that ultimately, defines who he is, who he strives to be, and the type of people he prefers
to associate himself with. For instance, Doug goes on to express his dissatisfaction with
those who are just going through the motions of life without regard for their
surroundings or lifestyle choices such as the choice to eat healthy. For Doug,
complacency reflects some of the things he sees wrong with society, and he prefers to
surround himself with others who feel the same way. This seems to speak to the standard
of meaning he holds for others who are in a position to make the world a better place.
As shown in Table 3, when asked to rank his perceived identity roles according to
various criteria, Doug revealed an emphasis on the identities related to his roles as a
member of a family.
Table 3. Dougs Identity Pile Sort
Most Important Most Time Spent As Each Most to Least Pleasing Most Ideal World
1. Husband 1. T eacher 1. Husband 1. Husband
2. Father-To-Be 2. Husband 2. Athlete 2. Father-To-Be
3. Athlete 3. Athlete 3. Father-To-Be 3. Athlete
4. Brother 4. Father-To-Be 4. Brother 4. Brother
5. Son 5. Brother 5. Son 5. Son
6. Teacher 6. Son 6. Friend 6. Friend
7. Friend 7. Friend 7. Teacher 7. T eacher
Note. Identities ranked numerically most to least
Doug makes a distinction that being an athlete is a role he wears, but being
active is an important part of who he is and what he values to the extent that he is not
happy with himself if he is not being active and staying healthy. When asked about his
rankings for the teacher identity, Doug aligns himself with his disdain for complacency
and explains that teaching is so damn hard, but at the end of the day he knows that he
has challenged himself and made a larger contribution to society. This opinion could be
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attributed to the fact that Doug was in his first year teaching at TGS, which also speaks to
how certain transitions in life influence our identities. For Doug, teaching is one way for
him to make the world a better place. From his experiences as a teacher at TGS, Doug
finds a shared meaning with other teachers who are driven by good intentions and a
passion to always try to find a better way of educating. Interestingly, when asked if he
would still be a teacher if he could not teach EfS or some other form of environmental
education, Doug did not think he could continue to teach in the classroom because it
would be too discouraging. This statement reveals how much is at stake for teachers
with a strong environment identity. It is may be of no coincidence that Doug received the
highest scores of all teachers on Stets & Bigas (2003) environment identity measure
form the online survey.
Molly. When asked to describe what is included in her definition of me, Molly
organized her responses around things she likes to do, relationships, what she works for
in her life, and adjectives that best describe her personality. She made a point that what
people do does not necessarily define whom they are.
I would say as a teacher I am an advocate for children. I am also an
advocate for social justice in all aspects of my life. I am daughter, a
cousin, a sister, a niece, and a girlfriend. I am female. I am a singer,
musician, and dancer. I love to be outside. I am a hiker, a skier, and a
kayaker. I am positive, outgoing, like to be around people, type A, and
light-hearted. (Individual interview, August 30, 2013).
Included in her description of not me, Molly explains the reason she is in the
service profession is because she doesnt want to just be or just be on the normal
trajectory that people take. For Molly, having a normal teaching job and continuing
the status quo would not define who she is or ever wants to be. She thrives on the
challenge of bettering the world and making her life more meaningful. These feelings are
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in alignment with Dougs commitment to always do better in life, as well as the feelings
of resentment associated with being normal or being comfortable in a routine.
Also similar to Doug, when asked to rank her perceived identity roles for various
criteria, Molly revealed an emphasis on identities associated with those people in her life
that she is the closest to. The results from Mollys pile sort are shown below in Table 4.
She goes on to explain the reason for this is because she would still have her family to
fall back on if her life in Colorado completely went away. Both Doug and Mollys
emphasis on family-related identities suggest that the people in their immediate
surroundings are of particular importance for carrying out the multiple identities they take
on in life.
Table 4. Mollys Identity Pile Sort
Most Important Most Time Spent As Each Most to Least Pleasing Most Ideal World
1. F amily Member 1. Teacher 1. Girlfriend 1. Girlfriend
2. Girlfriend 2. Girlfriend 2. F amily Member 2 F amily Member
3. Friend 3. Planner 3. Friend 3. Friend
4. Teacher 4. Explorer 4. Planner 4. Explorer
5. Planner 5. Friend 5. Explorer 5. Teacher/ Social Justice Advocate
6. Explorer 6. F amily Member 6. Teacher 6. Meaning Seeker
7. Meaning Seeker 7. Exerciser 7. Meaning Seeker 7. Planner
8. Musician 8. Musician 8. Musician 8. Musician
9. Exerciser 9. Meaning Seeker 9. Exerciser 9. Exerciser
10. Social Justice Advocate 10. Social Justice Advocate 10. Social Justice Advocate 10. F emale
11. Female 11. F emale 11. Female
Note. Identities ranked numerically most to least
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For Molly, being a meaning-seeker means trying to find the meaning in her life
and the things that she does rather than just letting it go by. Ideally, Molly considers
herself a social justice advocate to the same degree that she is a teacher. The reason for
this ranking is because she feels like social justice is personally important to her and is
inherently a part of how she teaches the EfS curriculum used at TGS. This is confirmed
in her response to what it means to for her to be a teacher at TGS:
It means being in a place where we are pushing against the status quo and
educating kids to be problem solvers for a better world and not just keep
worsening our world or keeping it the way it is. There is sort of, not the
expectation, but the encouragement to then also live that way myself
(Individual interview, August 30, 2013).
Interestingly, the time Molly spends as a social justice advocate is far less than
her time spent as a teacher. Upon probing further into this discrepancy, Molly explained
that she wanted to do more social justice advocacy outside of her role as a teacher, and
that sometimes she wasnt able to because she didnt have the time. When asked whether
she would continue being a teacher if she could not teach EfS or some other form of
environmental education, Molly explained that she would still be a teacher because her
priority is to educate kids to become good people. In her opinion, one can still be a good
person without knowing anything about EfS. Other than family-related roles, the meaning
Molly attaches to her role as a teacher supersede other identities she claims.
Allen. When asked to describe what is included in his definition of me, Allen
pointed out that the boundary between the way he sees himself and everything else is less
defined because he believes he is part of something bigger. He further explains this by
making the distinction between this universal self and his day-to-day self as a dad,
husband, teacher, and founder of TGS. For Allen, the characteristics that define who he is
46


are driven by common goals to Take care of the Earth. Take care of people. Return the
surplus.
In his definition of not me, Allen recognizes the reality of his life and his beliefs
as someone who does not believe in war making, pollution, or damaging the planet and
each other. However, he also points out that although he has control over his own
choices, he does not have control over what happens in the grand scheme of things. By
saying this, one might assume that, while Allen claims some defining characteristics, he
may not feel that he has complete ownership over how those are played out.
When asked to rank his perceived identity roles for various criteria, Allen reveals
similar responses to Doug and Molly by emphasizing those identities associated with his
role as family member. The pile sorting results for Allen are shown in Table 5.
Table 5. Allens Identity Pile Sort
Most Important Most Time Spent As Each Most to Least Pleasing Most Ideal World3
1. Husband 1. Educator 1. F ather
2. F ather 2. Husband/ F ather/ Dad 2. Husband
3. Leader 3. Leader 3. Friend
4. Designer 4. Consumer 4. Designer/ Traveler
5. Educator 5. Designer 5. Educator/ Leader
6. Brother/ Son 6. Friend 6. Brother/ Son
7. Friend 7. Brother 7. Consumer
8. Traveler 8. Son
9. Consumer 9. Traveler
Note. Identities ranked numerically most to least
a Teacher 3 explains that, in his ideal world, ranking anything does not exist. Therefore, all of his
identities are equal in an ideal world.
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Allen explains his reasoning for ranking husband and father in the top positions in
at least three of the four categories.
I spend a lot of time raising other peoples kids and not necessarily enough
time raising my own. I would like to play with my daughter more than do
just about anything.
I think my relationship with my wife is the most important thing I can do
for my daughter (Individual interview, September 3, 2013).
Upon probing into his identity as a consumer, Allen relays that being a consumer
doesnt necessarily define him personally, but more in the sense that his role as a
consumer in the world creates ripples of influence for others. By saying this, he is
positioning his identity as a consumer beyond the immediate surroundings and within the
world-at-large. For Allen, being a consumer is inevitable. It is also the least important
role.
Similar to teachers Doug and Molly, Allen identifies with living a life of
intention. This characteristic fuels his roles as a designer and educator as he tries to find
ways to address needs and solve problems. As a designer of the governance model at
TGS, Allen describes being influenced by an understanding of the variety of ways in
which people interact. This came about through his experiences as a traveler observing
how people interact.
When asked whether he would still teach without EfS or some form of
environmental education, Allen cites his reasoning for behind leaving a past career in
engineering.
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Not surprisingly, his ideas about acting against the mainstream or status quo are
similar across all three teachers.
I left engineering for a reason. Because I am an educator. I think it is my
responsibility as a teacher to bring more of the EfS mindset to a more
conventional teaching role. Nobody else is going to do it in mainstream
public education because it is not valued (Individual interview, September,
3, 2013).
Studies show that ones identity serves as an important motivator for behavior
because individuals act in ways to verify the meanings they attach to their different
identities (Burke & Reitzes, 1981; Stets & Biga, 2003). The identity profiles help to
elucidate teachers different identities. Specifically, teachers seem to share ideas about
their (a) intentionality for living a life of purpose and not complacency, (b) refusal to be
part of the status quo, and (c) importance of family. Perhaps Allen described teachers
intentionality best as taking care of the earth, taking care of people, and returning the
surplus. All three teachers expressed their intentions for contributing to make the world a
better place both in and out of the classroom environment. In a setting such as a school
where individual identities are negotiating and compromising on a daily basis, it could be
that intention is what motivates teaching. Furthermore, if teachers intentions are aligned
with certain behaviors and actions, then teaching environmental education and engaging
in other environmentally friendly behaviors are ways that teachers live out their
intentions.
Along with intention, teachers seemed adamant in their refusal to be part of the
status quo. This is a dominant theme in environmental education research as multiple
authors have argued that societies require citizens who can independently analyze
problems, find collaborative solutions, and make pro-environmental choices, even when
49


doing so challenges social norms (Jensen & Schnack, 1997; Short, 2010; Stapp, Wals, &
Stankorb, 1996). The idea that education should cultivate autonomous decision-making
as well as collective problem solving is consistent with the foundations of environmental
education (UNESCO, 1978). By choosing to be in a school that challenges the norms of
traditional education with an innovative approach for environmental education, Doug,
Molly, and Allen are actively engaging their environment identities.
Finally, the importance of family was a shared across the three teachers. For
instance, teachers expressed concern for the futures of their children and family members.
Specifically of great concern was how to ensure a healthy environment that family
members can thrive in. This seems to align with similar goals for environmental
education.
Formative Experiences
In the findings for this section, autobiographical narratives were used as a primary
source of data to inductively analyze the formative experiences teachers attribute to the
development of their relationship with the environment, and subsequently, how these
experiences shape teachers view of themselves in relation to the environment. Each
teacher was asked to construct an autobiographical narrative from the prompt:
Contemplate and describe, in your own words, the parts of your life that have shaped
(and/or continue to shape) how you know, relate to, and interact with the environment.
Additional depth for each case study was attained with supporting information from the
individual interview and focus group. The analysis process outlined in Chapter II was
used to develop categories and discover any emergent themes across the three teachers.
Commonalities and differences across the teachers are also highlighted and discussed.
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One of the strengths of significant life experience research is its use of a
retrospective approach to understand formative experiences occurring over the span of a
lifetime. Almost immediately in the coding process, it was apparent that teachers were
arranging their formative experiences into different stages of a life. The placement of
formative experiences according to specific life stages was not asked for or alluded to in
the autobiographical narrative prompt. Teachers interpretations flowed organically into
age categories, which were then interpreted as developmental stages of life.
Chawla (1998) emphasizes that recognizing the developmental stages when
formative experiences happen is an important consideration for future longitudinal
studies across different and changing generations. Presenting the information in this way
aligns with past significant life experience research (Chawla & Derr, 2012; James et al.,
2010) that recognize developmental stages for how and when individual relationships
with the environment are established.
Under the guidance of Miles and Huberman (1994) and Yin (2003), the findings
of the formative experiences of each teacher in this study are presented chronologically in
a time-ordered sequence based on developmental stages of life. These stages are (a)
childhood and early adolescence (b) late adolescence and early adulthood, and (c) early
adulthood to present. Childhood and early adolescence occurs through the middle school
years and is considered in significant life experience literature as the most formative time
in a persons life for acquiring the types of dispositions that motivate environmental
behaviors and action (Chawla, 1999; James et al., 2010).
In addition to childhood, stages of adolescence and early adulthood have been
found to be a time for formative experiences with the environment. These experiences
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occurring through the college years have been shown to manifest in environmental
sensitivity, interest and concern (Peterson & Hungerford, 1981). Finally, experiences in
adulthood occur at a time when participating teachers have completed their formal
education and advanced into their present careers as teachers engaged in environmental
education. Formative experiences that have shaped how teachers know, relate to, and
interact with the environment have deep roots in the past, while also being shaped by
experiences in the present. It is at this stage of life when formative experiences begin to
accumulate into an environment identity that crystallizes in advanced education and
skills, and affiliation with other committed environmental professionals. (Chawla &
Derr, 2012, p. 535).
Overall, the parts of teachers lives that shape and continue to shape how they
know, relate to and interact with the environment varied for each teacher. For Doug, a
majority of formative experiences were described as happening during childhood and
early adolescence. For Molly, most formative experiences occurred during late
adolescence and early adulthood. For Allen, formative experiences happened largely in
adulthood. In order to reflect this continuum of formative experiences across the teachers,
the findings for this section of Chapter IV were organized according to developmental
life stages.
Childhood and early adolescence.
Doug. Doug traces the development of his relationship with the environment
back to childhood and the home where he was raised. At this time, he was growing up on
the family farm situated in the mountains of Colorado near a socio-economically diverse
municipality of less than 200 people. Spending childhood and early adolescence on a
52


farm in rural Colorado provided the environmental and social landscape for a multitude
of experiences that were formative for Dougs development of a relationship with the
environment.
I grew up in an off the grid house, on five acres of land surrounded by
National Forest. Our five acres allowed us to have goats, pigs, sheep,
chicken, ducks, geese, and a large vegetable garden. (Autobiographical
narrative, June 15, 2013).
Doug had the unique experience of growing up in a home that was energy-
independent and electricity was provided by the Sun and wind power. The five acres of
land surrounding his home allowed Doug and his family to raise livestock and produce
backyard local food. Additionally, having a designated wilderness area in close
proximity to the farm provided access for long family hikes through the forest.
More so than Molly or Allen, Doug described being profoundly impacted by his
direct interactions with the natural environment at this particular stage of life. These
experiences took place as a normal function of everyday life and were consistent
throughout his childhood.
While Doug explicitly grounds his relationship to the environment in his
childhood and the home where he was raised, Molly and Allen reveal less formative
experiences happening in childhood and early adolescence. This is evident not only in
content of the autobiographical narrative, but also in the interviews and focus group as
Molly and Allen made fewer references to this stage of life. For instance, in the
autobiographical narratives, Doug dedicates most of his narrative speaking to his
childhood experiences.
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Molly manages to describe this stage of her life in one paragraph, while Allen does so in
one or two sentences. Noticeably, Dougs experiences at this stage had a high degree of
impact for his developing a relationship with the environment.
Molly. Molly described her upbringing in childhood and early adolescence as one
that followed traditional upper-middle class roles.
My dad spent long hours at the office while my mom stayed at home and raised
my sister and me (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013).
It was at this time in her life when she first experienced living in the mountains of
Colorado. In a town with a population of approximately 10,000, Molly was able to walk
to school and play outside until it was dark. She remembers feeling more connected to
the environment while living in close proximity to natural areas where she was able to
hike, ski, and learn about area wildlife. After a few years in Colorado, she moved away
from the mountains to Connecticut with her family. She elaborates on this experience in
her autobiographical narrative:
I remember feeling like my world turned upside-down when we moved
from the open and vast mountains to the rolling hills of New England. A
different kind of beauty. Tree-lined streets that magically changed with
each season (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013).
From this experience, Molly attributed what seems like a major transition in her
life to changes in physical landscape within natural and built environments (e.g. suburbs).
The beauty of the mountains was juxtaposed with rolling hills as she held on to a sense
of wonder for new, yet familiar elements (e.g. trees). This internalized meaning for the
natural environment would eventually expand in later years as described later in this
section.
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Allen. While not explicitly formative, the experiences Allen describes as shaping
how he knows, relates to, and interacts with the environment occur as a child growing up
in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado.
I grew up on the leading edge of suburban sprawl. I could bike or walk 3
blocks north from my house and arrive at the end of civilization. There
was almost nothing north of 120th in those days. (Autobiographical
narrative, June 15, 2013).
It is in childhood and early adolescence that Allen recalls his interactions with the
environment to include the ability to go outside and play. By describing the presence of
sprawl and the changes to a landscape remembered from childhood, Allens statement is
reminiscent of the types of formative experiences that have been shown in the literature
to occur as a result of destruction of familiar places. However, there is no strong
indication from Allen that these changes are viewed as positive, negative, or formative
for that matter. One can only imagine what it would be like as a child to have access to
the end of civilization. Perhaps the experience of being near the built environment of
suburban sprawl and the environment at the end of civilization explains how he placed
himself in relation to different environments. In a more explicit reference, Allen
expresses taking advantage of having access to the end of civilization:
I took advantage of our location and spent lots of time playing in the canal
and the wooded and brushy areas surrounding it (Autobiographical
narrative, June 15, 2013).
For Allen, being outdoors in the natural environment might be viewed as a
positive emotional experience, but it is not clear whether or not this was formative to his
relationship with the environment at this time in his life.
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When comparing groups of environmental professionals and those who had no
interest in the outdoors or environmental activities, James et al. (2010) found that a
majority of individuals in the environmental group recalled meaningful experiences as
children playing in woodlands and waterways (interstitial areas) near the home. Most in
the comparison group either did not remember having any significant experiences
outdoors or had negative experiences outdoors.
Interestingly, and quite different from the other teachers, Allen explains that
during this time his connection to nature or the environment was different from the
way others describe. For instance, rather than a belief about the importance of
something outside of himself, he believed the natural environment to be part of his
temperament, where he felt (and still feels) most at ease. This might suggest the presence
of some kind of personal meaning related to his environment identity.
Beyond the autobiographical narratives, Molly and Allen do not emphasize
experiences in childhood and early adolescence as being formative to the development of
how they know, relate to, and interact with the environment. These experiences happened
later in life and will be examined in more detail later in this section.
Late adolescence and early adulthood. For at least 2 of the 3 participating
teachers, a mixture of different experiences occurring in late adolescence and early
adulthood were described as having an impact on the development of how they know,
relate to and interact with the environment. These include travel, education, and career
orientation. Interestingly, Doug did not explicitly reference any formative experiences
occurring during this stage of life. His parents still reside on the farm, so it is possible
that the experiences from his childhood continue to linger as formative in his mind.
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Molly. Findings from Molly showed a majority of formative experiences
occurred during late adolescence and early childhood. It was at this time that she was in
college and entering into a teaching career.
I grew up thinking the environment was just nature. You know, like grass,
or the air and trees. A big mental shift in my life was moving from this
concept of the environment as nature to a more holistic view that
everything is the environment. (Focus group, September 5, 2013).
For Molly, the freedom that accompanied moving away for college drastically
changed her worldview. While attending a Jesuit college, she began to pursue an interest
in education and psychology. The college experience offered opportunities for
experiential and service learning challenges that led to what Molly described as
intellectual and personal transformation in service. This is consistent with past research
providing evidence that, beyond childhood experiences of free play and exploration, the
adolescent-early adult years are a time when formal knowledge of the environment, skills
and hobbies develop, and individuals prepare for environmental vocations and
volunteering (James et al., 2010).
When asked about which experiences contributed the most to how she
conceptualized the environment, Molly attributed this to her experiences in college
studying abroad in Ecuador.
I was learning from books and lectures, and suddenly I was learning from
other people and experience. I connected with people. I went to tiny
surfing towns, cloud forests, the rainforest, and high desert. It was a crash
course in environmental wonder (Autobiographical narrative, June 15,
2013).
The experiences of being in different environments promoted the sense of wonder
Molly referred to in childhood. Additionally, traveling to Ecuador and experiencing
different cultures and environments facilitated the expansion of her view of the
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environment to include humans and human interactions. This evidence is verified in the
focus group and in Mollys autobiographical narrative.
[Study abroad in Ecuador] inspired more my love for the beauty of the
natural environment, and made me more aware of the interactions between
people in the natural environment. Seeing the rainforest and peoples
impact on the rainforest. Seeing others in the most biodiverse country in
the world. Just seeing all of that. I have never experienced that before
(Focus group, September 5, 2013).
I was always eager travel and see whether other cities had a similar
connection to the environment that San Francisco did (Autobiographical
narrative, June 15, 2013).
For Molly, being in the natural environment and observing how different people
interact with their surrounding environment seemed to provide the most pleasurable
experience.
By the end of college, Molly describes the influence of a person she began dating
who widened the periphery of what she knew about the environment and environmental
issues.
My senior year, I began dating a guy who was studying environment
issues and he opened my eyes to the positive relationship one can (and
should) have with nature. We moved to San Francisco after graduation and
joined the AmeriCorps. This is where I began my outdoorsy education
(Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013).
The influence of a significant person prompted a formative experience for Molly.
Most research on significant life experiences attributes changes to an influential person in
childhood and early adolescence. However, given this context, it seems equally feasible
that this influence can occur at any stage of life.
It was during her time in San Francisco when Molly recalls emotions of being
astounded and grounded by the natural beauty of the area. This is reflected in new
environmental and social behaviors. She joined a CSA, started to recycle and compost,
58


hiked, skied, camped, and became a kayak guide. She also experimented with Buddhist
and Quaker religions, which recognize the human relationship with the environment as an
important part of a bigger whole.
In addition to her experiences traveling, Molly began teaching at a school focused
on outdoor and sustainability education. It was during this experience that she remembers
beginning to see the links between different environmental and social systems. In terms
of identity development, it might have been a time for verification of the meanings she
was attaching to her environment identity. Making the social connections to
environmental issues also tapped into her passions for social justice, which were
grounded in her experiences traveling around the country and the world.
I was hooked. It was the first time that I understood sustainability as a
mindset and more than just saving the environment (Autobiographical
narrative, June 15, 2013).
For Molly, the experience of having access to people and the surrounding natural
environment was profound. As a result, she made a promise to herself that she would
always live where natural beauty inspired her. These formative experiences would later
play a role in her adulthood as she explains in the next section.
Allen. Similar to Molly, Allen also mentioned the impact of career choice and
travel in the development of his relationship to the environment.
For instance, working as an electrical and computer engineer exposed him to what he
describes as a naked reductionism of complex earth systems and processes, to the
detriment of accounting for individuality.
One of the first things you are taught in engineering is that you have to
make certain simplifying assumptions. This is unfortunate when you are
dealing with people, because you have just discounted the vast majority of
experience and potential (Individual interview, September 3, 2013).
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Allens experience as an engineer seemed to carry over into later stages of
adulthood as he became dissatisfied with the common application of linear thinking to
solve complex problems. As a result, he began to educate himself to develop an
understanding of system dynamics and systems thinking. This focus on systems would
eventually have an impact on his relationship with the environment in the present day.
Similar to Molly, experiences with travel resulted in a broader view of the
environment to include humans and human impacts. For instance, after working as a
computer and electrical engineer in early adulthood, Allen joined the Peace Corps in
southern Africa.
I used the Peace Corps to engineer my escape. I became a teacher and the
pattern of preferring to be outside continued. This worked out well in
southern Africa where sitting around outside with people is a major past
time (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013).
This formative experience not only verified Allens penchant for being outdoors,
but also nurtured a strong interest in and awareness of how different people live in their
environments. In the individual interview, he describes these experiences interacting with
different people and cultures through travel as being linked and integral to his worldview.
When I travel to other places, I prefer to stay there for a while and make a
connection to the place. It is really about just expanding my sense of
place, which includes people in those places. It is not just the land
(Individual interview, September 3, 2013).
Importantly, Allen acknowledges that at this point in his life (late adolescence and
early adulthood) he had not fully formed his concerns about the environment and how to
face future problems in the environment. This would come later in his adulthood, and will
be clarified in the next section.
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Early adulthood to present.
Doug. Doug attributes his childhood growing up on a farm to the development of
a deep connection to the planet and the environment. At this stage in life, Doug spends
much of his time actively pursuing experiences in the natural environment.
I spend almost every spare moment in the mountains skiing, climbing,
hiking, running, or fishing. I do this because being in the mountains is my
time to be in the natural world (Autobiographical narrative, June 15,
2013).
Experiences outdoors in the natural environment continue to be formative as
Doug describes feelings of being humbled by the environment whenever he
experiences a pristine mountain lake, or goes on a hike to identify wildflowers or summit
a peak. An alternative suggestion to these feelings would be that he has a fully formed
relationship with the environment, and this relationship is continually verified in his
experiences outdoors. This manifests itself in personal behaviors such as installing solar
panels and limiting water use.
While experiences in the natural environment continue to influence Doug, the
urban environment is also recognized as an important setting for formative experiences.
For instance, he describes one part of himself as having an affinity for the conveniences
and diversity that the urban experience provides.
I love experiencing the ethnic diversity of an urban school. I love hearing
the different languages and different accents. I love that in the city I have
access to food that I wouldnt otherwise get in a small mountain town. I
did not grow up with these things (Individual interview, September 3,
2013).
For this teacher, being an educator in a diverse urban school is a formative
experience that is defined by current and past exposure to urban and rural environments.
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Molly. For Molly, growing up and being able to see the juxtaposition of the built
environment of the suburbs and the natural environment of the mountains accounts for
how she defines herself in adulthood.
After finishing grad school, I was itching to embark on a new adventure so
I chose to move to Denver, CO. I always knew I was more of a mountains
girl than a beach girl. I was ready for something different. A more livable
city with even easier access to outdoor activities and potential to connect
to the environment (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013).
Like Doug, Molly expresses a need for access to the natural environment.
Accessibility is an important element that impacts her current ability to nurture the type
of experiences that have been formative to her relationship with the environment in the
past. This was also evident in the focus group discussion.
I found it difficult to be in the natural environment when I lived on the
east coast unless I put in a lot of effort. Being in San Francisco, there was
more of that opportunity to go out in nature with less human impact
(Focus group, September 5, 2013).
Past experiences continue to shape the desire to connect not only with the natural
environment, but also with people and the urban environment. This was evident in her
explanation about moving to and living in Denver (albeit to a smaller degree).
Here in Denver, I do feel connected to the environment, but not as much
as I had anticipated. It really is a city and you have to drive out to get into
the mountains (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013).
Molly recognizes her most formative experiences happening outdoors primarily in
natural environments with less human impact. Although not as much in her experiences
as a teacher, her relationship with the environment continues to be supported in her
weekend explorations and adventures hiking around Colorado.
Allen. Adulthood proved to be the stage of life that Allen considers the most
formative for the development of his relationship with the environment. This was a
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pivotal time for Allen as he began to apply his knowledge of systems thinking to
disentangle and understand the underlying complexity of large-scale systemic problems.
After becoming a property owner, husband and father, he began to integrate his
understanding of the big picture and the importance of acting to ensure a durable
future for the planet. As the sustainability movement emerged in 2005-2006, he realized
that others were experiencing a similar line of thinking, and the idea for TGS originated.
Allen describes his experiences with sustainability as a refreshing change from
the discourse of the environmental movement, where the environment is viewed as
something separate from humans.
I think engaging in an argument like -you have to be nice to the
environment/no I dont as long as its profitable- really only serves to
reinforce the idea that the environment is something out there, separate
from us, that needs to be used or needs to be cleaned up (Autobiographical
narrative, September 3, 2013).
The statement above suggests that Allen currently views himself as a part of the
environment, and not separate from it. This is further supported in the following excerpt:
We have been raised to believe that God gave man dominion over the
Earth. When I was younger, I didnt really understand what that means
and it didnt seem worth figuring out. Now that I am older, I understand
the environment as something much greater than me and something of
which I am a part of, not as a collection of resources and ecosystem
services available for my use or exploitation (Autobiographical narrative,
June 15,2013)
Emergent Themes on Formative Experiences
Parents and family. It should be mentioned that, in addition to formative
experiences outdoors in the natural environment, teachers expressed being influenced by
their parents in childhood and early adolescent years. For example, while cumulative
experiences in the surrounding natural environment and a childhood growing up in a
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lifestyle of subsistence seemed to be the most formative for him, Dougs parents also
played a large role in the development of his relationship with the environment. Doug
vividly remembered one of the most frequent things his father would say was, who left
the damn light on in the kitchen? He recalls his ornery fathers persistent, daily
vigilance of energy use as a factor that shaped his current awareness of resource use.
I grew up in a very sustainable way without it being like this holier-than-
Thou thing. It is just because that is what my parents wanted to do
(Individual interview, September 3, 2013).
Other than recycling and going on the occasional hike, Molly does not remember
her parents putting much emphasis on appreciation of the environment during
childhood and early adolescence.
My dad was incredibly anal about organizing and sorting the recycling each
week-more of him feeling good about household chores rather than any
connection to protecting the environment (Autobiographical narrative, June 15,
2013).
This influence might not indicate a formative experience for Molly, but it alludes
to the repetition of a mindset that may carry over into later adulthood.
Allen ascribes his propensity to play outside as a result of a lightly supervised
childhood. If given the choice, he always preferred to be outside rather than inside. This
is indicative of an adult influence, although not necessarily the kinds of influence
revealed in the literature.
Mental models. An additional theme emerging from the data includes the
development of a mental model for the environment. This was consistent across all three
teachers, and was especially prevalent in the stage of life where the most formative
experiences occurred. For instance, Dougs formative experiences in childhood seemed to
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indicate a mental model of the environment that emphasized the natural, non-human
environment.
Mollys formative experiences during early adulthood involved interacting with
other cultures in diverse natural environments. This seemed to indicate a slightly more
inclusive mental model of the environment that emphasized both human and natural
environments. Allens mental model of the environment was more complex during his
formative experiences occurring in early adulthood. He emphasized more of a systems
view of the environment by acknowledging the existence of different parts interacting to
make a functioning whole. What is unknown is the extent to which formative experiences
might have contributed to the development of teachers mental model for the
environment. Are these mental models static? Did they change over time? Are they a
reflection of the current reality for teachers? How do formative experiences contribute to
their presence, if at all? Is the mental model personally relevant for the teachers? Does it
contribute to their environment identity? If so, how? Some of these questions will be
explored in more detail in the mental models section of this chapter.
Overall findings reveal differences and commonalities in the type and setting of
experiences teachers considered as formative to the development of their relationship
with the environment. The primary difference in formative experiences across teachers
was the time of life in which the most formative experiences occurred. This could mean
that environment identity development is a continuous, lifelong process where identities
are constantly being reformulated or built based on ones surroundings and exposure to
different situations. Teachers formative experiences also vary according to different
circumstances where teachers have interacted with components of both natural and
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human environments. Commonalities across the three teachers include the types of
experiences teachers considered as formative to the development of their relationship
with the environment. These include extended periods of time spent outdoors in natural
areas, influential family members or significant others directing attention to the value of
the environment, and traveling to different places and witnessing the interactions of
people and their surroundings. To a lesser extent, education and career experiences were
also considered formative to the development of teachers relationship with the
environment.
Doug, Molly and Allens experiences align with the literature on the significant
life experiences said to motivate the career choices, behaviors and actions of a variety of
environmental professionals. By engaging in environmental education, teachers are
exhibiting behaviors and actions similar to other environmental professionals. This is a
significant consideration for how formative experiences might shape teachers
environment identity. According to identity theory, behaviors reflect the meanings
attached to an identity.
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Mental Models
In the findings for teachers mental models of the environment, the focus group
was considered a primary source of data. Each teacher was asked to draw a picture of the
environment, and explain his or her drawing in a share discussion. This measure was
borrowed from the second part of Shepardson et al.s (2007) Environments Task. One of
the strengths of using drawings to represent individual mental models is their ability to
convey personal beliefs built on prior knowledge and past experiences (Desjean-Perrotta
et al., 2010; Johnson-Laird, 1983). By capturing teachers mental models of the
environment, one can make reasonable inferences into individual belief systems, which
are developed over time from past experience and cultural influences (Libarkin et al.,
2003). A additional supporting piece of information that was useful for exploring
teachers mental models of the environment came from an item in the online survey
asking teachers for the first three words that come to mind when they think of the word
environment.
Overall, teachers indicated a view of the self as a significant component of the
environmental system. This system includes the interactions and processes that occur
between human, non-human living (biotic), abiotic, and built factors. All three teachers
acknowledged that their mental models were influenced in some way by the formative
experiences expressed in the autobiographical narratives. Table 6 displays findings for
the mental models of the environment expressed by each teacher.
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Table 6. Summary of Teachers Mental Models of the Environment
Teacher Key Elements of Mental Model First Three Words to Describe Environment
Doug Mountains Farms Rivers Smokestack emitting fumes Industrial building Sun People all over Sustainability Conservation Destroyed
Molly Water Geography Mountains Flora/Plants/Trees F auna/Animals Bear Rabbit Insect Atmosphere People Arrows for relationships and cycles Trees Conservation Protection
Allen Sun Moon and Star Rain cloud Mountains Trees Com plant An animal Fiuman brain House with antennae Smokestack Industrial building W avelengths People standing on car Person holding cell phone Earth Distress Hope
For Doug, formative experiences growing up in the mountains on a rural farm
contributed to the inclusion of mountains and a farm in his mental model of the
environment. His experiences in urban areas and natural areas impacted by humans are
also a part of the way he views the environment. For Molly, formative experiences
interacting with people in different environments contributed to the inclusion of symbols
to emphasize the interconnections between biotic and abiotic components in the
environment. For Allen, formative experiences learning and working from a systems
perspective contributed to a mental model of the environment where different scales of
interaction exist between abiotic and biotic components in the environment. To highlight
the unique and shared properties of individual mental models of the environment, the
findings for this section of Chapter IV are organized by teacher.
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Doug. Diversity exists with regard to how individuals conceptualize the
environment. Differences between our points of reference within the environment has
been linked to past and current experiences in our immediate surroundings (Rickinson,
2001). For Doug, formative experiences growing up on a farm in a rural area have had an
impact on the mental model he uses to conceptualize the environment.
Recall from earlier in this chapter that the formative experiences Doug attributed
to the development of his relationship with the environment were primarily influenced by
experiences in places where there was an abundance of non-human, biotic components.
This resonates with his drawing and explanation of the environment provided in the focus
group and shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Dougs Drawing of the Environment
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In this drawing, Doug includes images of mountains, a river, a building with a
smokestack, a farm, and humans. While he did not provide any conceptual labels or
arrows, he explains in the focus group that he would revise his drawing and include these
objects to show the interconnections between each image.
I started [the drawing] with the mountains because that, for me, is
important. Then the rivers and farm and food, which the environment
provides and the farm represents. Also the Sun which provided energy for
our home (Focus group, September 5, 2013).
For Doug, formative experiences growing up in the natural environment seem to
have influenced the development of his mental model of the environment in terms of
landscape and how humans are situated within the environment. For instance, he explains
that he used images of the mountains and farm because that is where he grew up. He also
recognizes that people depend on the environment to provide for them in different ways.
This distinction is made when he describes people who spend time outdoors for peace
and sanctuary and people who depend on the environment for basic human needs such as
food, water and materials. In what he refers to as sort of a dichotomy with the
environment, Doug explains that the environment doesnt really care about us, but it
provides everything for us.
When asked why he included the building and smokestack in his drawing, Doug
explains that he used those particular images to represent buildings and pollution. The
emphasis on placing humans in different parts of the drawing suggests a view of the
environment that is dominated by humans. Interestingly, Doug seems to view the
environment as a system of interacting parts, the function of those parts is in question. If
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humans are a vital part of the environment, then the function they serve in his mental
model is not a positive one. He alludes to this in his autobiographical narrative.
I realize that the places that have been minimally impacted by humans are
the way the planet used to be, the way the planet should be. It is because
of the time I spend outdoors that it saddens me to see these places are
changing; that these uninterrupted places are changing and disappearing
because we consume too much energy, water, manufactured food, and
resources, all for cheap (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013).
It is apparent from his mental model and information provided in his
autobiographical narrative and the focus group discussion that Doug includes in his belief
system an emotional affinity for the natural world. For Kals et al. (1999), an emotional
affinity toward nature is defined by having an interest in nature, a sense of love for
nature, feelings of safety and oneness in nature, and indignant feelings when it is not
protected. Their research reveals a positive correlation between past experiences with
family members in nature and a willingness to commit to behaviors on behalf of nature.
Perhaps this is what motivates Doug to take responsibility for the environment through
his personal behaviors and possibly through teaching about social justice issues and EfS.
Regardless, of most importance for Doug is his commitment to maintaining his
connections to the outdoors and facilitating those types of experiences for his students.
Molly. Few studies have investigated the influence of different social and
cultural factors on individual mental models of the environment. When asked for her
drawing of the environment (seen in Figure 4), Molly presents images and labels of the
atmosphere, people, fauna/animals, flora/plants, and geography/mountains. Arrows
pointing in all directions and in a cycle are also present. Under the drawing, a label reads,
THE Environment.
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V


flora/
plinth
V
i
frw^uwn1
Figure 4. Mollys Drawing of the Environment
In her drawing of the environment, Molly holds a mental model of the
environment that emphasizes the interactions and interrelationships happening within the
environment. Arrows located between human, non-living biotic, abiotic, and built
components within the environmental system represent this.
That is what my arrows are supposed to represent. I had water, geography,
different landforms, flora and fauna, the atmosphere, and then of course,
us. I consider the environment to be the interactions between all those
different pieces (Focus group, September 5, 2013).
When asked to explain her drawing, Molly indicates her intentions were to
represent the different parts of the environment that she thinks interact. Upon hearing
this in the focus group, Doug and Allen agreed that those arrows are an important piece
that is missing in their own drawings of the environment.
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In his study on mental models, Norman (1983) asserts that when individuals
interact with the environment, they form internal mental models of themselves and the
things in which they are interacting. Furthermore, these models are useful for predicting
and explaining the interaction. What is interesting to mention here is that Molly does not
include any indication of deleterious interaction between humans and other parts of the
environment in her drawing. It could be that by not including a symbol or representation
of negative human impacts in her drawing, this aligns with the way she describes her self
in her identity profile as a positive person who always sees the glass half full and
prefers to be around others that feel the same.
This was not the case for Doug and Allen who included exhaust from cars and
buildings with smokestacks in their drawings. When asked to explain why she did not
include these components in her drawing, Molly explains that she probably should have,
but she didnt feel like it would really represent how she conceptualizes the environment,
which emphasizes the different ways that people interact with the different parts of the
environment.
Its hard because the environment has so many connotations. I think that it
is the different ways that people -mainly people- interact with the rest of
the parts of the environment, so it [the buildings] is kind of included
anyway (Focus group, September 5, 2013).
Without prompting, Molly refers back to her experiences growing up as having an
influence on the way she views the environment. She clarifies a point during her early
adulthood when she began to understand the more holistic concept that everything is the
environment. Doug expressed a similar sentiment in the focus group. When asked what
the environment was to him, he responded that it was everything to him (Focus group).
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When asked whether she believed that the environment was made up of different
types or sub-environments (e.g. human, non-human biotic, abiotic, built), Molly further
explains that she believes there are natural parts that humans did not make, and our
interaction with those natural elements created other parts, like buildings.
These are man-made things, which are still part of our environment, but
they werent here before us (Focus group, September 5, 2013).
For Molly, natural refers to something that was not created by humans.
Conversely, something un-natural might refer to something created by humans using
natural resources. It is because of our interaction with the natural resources in the
environment that we have created other parts of the environment. One thing to note
here is how Molly uses the terminology of our environment. While there was no follow
up to this, perhaps this signals an internally held belief that the environment is owned or
that humans have a shared responsibility for the environment.
For Molly, the environment includes different systems of human, non-human
biotic, abiotic and built components. However, it is the interactions between the different
components of the environment, especially human interactions, which represent how she
conceptualizes the environment. Recall the experiences she considers formative to the
development of her relationship with the environment occurred primarily during late
adolescence and early adulthood. These experiences happened when she had access to
traveling and seeing other people interact in different environments (e.g. Ecuador,
rainforest). It is also at this time when she began to consider herself as the social justice
advocate she is today. It is possible, then, that this period of time in her life was also a
formative time for the development of her current mental model of the environment.
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Allen. Mental models can be useful for understanding how individuals structure
their own reality in order to make sense of the world around them. For Allen, this reality
includes a conceptualization of the environment (seen in Figure 5) that emphasizes what
Moseley et al. (2010b) refer to as a systemic approach. In other words, the mental
model Allen holds for the environment is complex, varies in scale, and includes all
human, non-human biotic, abiotic, and built components.
Figure 5. Allens Drawing of the Environment
When asked to draw a picture of what he thinks the environment is, Allen
includes images of mountains, a tree, an animal, humans, humans with technology, an
antennae on a house emitting wavelengths, a factory, a car with exhaust, a human brain, a
raincloud, the moon, a star, and the Sun. No conceptual labels or arrows are shown in this
drawing, but Allen clarifies that as one thing he would have changed.
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For Allen, the environment includes a complex network of human, non-human
biotic, abiotic, and built components. For instance, the images of the wavelengths emitted
from the house and radio represent his idea that different parts of the environment can
have man-made or natural origins. He also explains that these images are a result of his
past experiences as an engineer. In the same sense, the mountains are included because he
grew up near the mountains. Although the interactions taking place between these
components are inferred from what is in the drawing, Allen provides an explanation in
the focus group discussion:
That is supposed to be corn down at the bottom next to the tree, so sort of
plants that occur as a result of human activity and plants that occur
without human intervention (Focus group, September 5, 2013).
From this statement it would seem that humans have a role in the environment
that includes manipulation of certain parts of that environment (e.g. the food system).
Allen provides no additional examples to substantiate this, but he does provide some
statements in his autobiographical narrative and individual interview that might further
clarify how he defines the environment. For instance, in his autobiographical narrative,
he defines the Earth as a containing system not only for the economy, but also every
other sub-system that supports or interacts with life here. He also adamantly disagrees
with what he calls the modern economic orthodoxy that the Earth is nothing more than
a collection of resources to be efficiently distributed. For Allen, the environment is not
something that is separate from humans or a place that needs to be used or cleaned up.
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It is inherently the responsibility of humans (because we are a part of the environment) to
Take care of the Earth. Take care of people. Return the surplus. (Individual interview,
September 3, 2013). According to Allen, humans play a role in the environment to the
degree that there is no distinction between natural and not natural.
There is this pervasive idea that somehow people are separate from nature
and that everything of value is therefore not natural. I personally object to
that characterization. I think it is very dangerous to position humans as not
filling some niche in this world. If we did not fulfill a niche, we would not
be here. I think it is important to accept the fact that, because we do have a
role on this Earth, we have the ability to do something positive (Focus
group, September 5, 2013).
The vital role that humans and human perceptions play in the environment is
evident in the image of the brain used in the drawing. For Allen, the brain represents the
mental environment which acts as a filter to process our experiences. This is
surprisingly similar to the idea that mental models act as a filter for past experiences.
When mental models are used to filter experiences in the environment, formative
experiences eventually feedback into the mental models and shape how the environment
is understood and conceptualized. For some, formative experiences recognize humans or
the self as part of the environment. For others, humans or the self may not be a part of the
environment. Another possibility is the recognition that humans and the self are part of
the environment, but the relationship exists at varying degrees of interdependence.
In the focus group discussion, Allen proceeds to clarify his definition of the
environment quite simply as the setting in which we operate, which includes
everything. He recognizes and explains that this concept is something that he has only
be able to understand pre-verbally for quite some time, but has only recently been able to
articulate it in conversation.
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Looking back to Allens formative experiences, this seems to align with the evidence that
early adulthood-present adulthood is the stage of life when he had what he considered his
most formative experiences contributing to the development of his relationship with the
environment.
Emergent Themes for Mental Models
The findings from this and past research reveal that a relationship exists between
ones past experiences in the environment and the mental models they apply to
conceptualize the environment. For instance, teachers formative experiences involved
interactions with different human and natural elements of the environment. These
interactions may have influenced the kind of mental model teachers currently hold for the
environment. A question for future research is how the developmental stages from
teachers formative experiences are related to the development of their mental model.
Mental models are dynamic and continue to expand with new information and
new experiences. For some, they can be internally engrained in cognitive structures to the
point where it is difficult to change or assimilate. For instance, Dougs most formative
experiences for developing his relationship to the environment happened in a childhood
where the immediate surroundings were a farm, forest, and mountains. The daily,
repetitive contact with natural places forged a mental model of the environment that has
developed over time to include the urban living experience.
While we do not know for sure, an argument could be made that Dougs mental
model from childhood remains somewhat in tact and lies at the core of his identity.
Mollys most formative experiences for developing her relationship to the environment
happened in early adulthood. Activities such as hiking in Ecuadors rainforest and
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kayaking in San Francisco exposed Molly to diverse groups of people interacting in
different natural environments. This is apparent in her current mental model for the
environment that emphasizes interactions showing interdependence between people and
their environments. Again, while we do not know for sure, an argument could be made
that Mollys mental model developed in early adulthood remains somewhat in tact and
lies at the core of her identity. Allens most formative experiences for developing his
relationship to the environment occurred more recently in adulthood. Having a career in
computer and electrical engineering provided Allen with an initial exposure to the
complexities of systems and system dynamics. As he became a husband, father, and
property owner, he began to apply personal meaning to his role as a functioning part of
bigger systems. Humans have always had niche in environmental systems and
processes. For Allen, there is no separation between himself and the environment.
Shaping Environment Identity
A guiding question for this study asks how formative experiences and mental
models shape teachers environment identity. This section will address this question with
a proposal that teachers formative experiences and mental models shape their
environment identity by dictating the meanings they attach to themselves in relation to
the environment.
According to identity theory, every kind of identity one claims has a particular set
of meanings attached to it. Recall that, in this study, meanings refer to the characteristics
or attributes that individuals see as representing who they are, how they feel, and what
they value (Stets & Biga, 2003, p. 403).
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In this case, the meanings that Doug, Molly and Allen attach to their environment
identity are influenced by their formative experiences in the environment and their mental
models of the environment. Consequently, these meanings are internalized and reflected
in how they view themselves as part of the environment.
Shepardson et al. (2007) contend that in order for a person to understand their
position on an environmental issue and the reasons underlying their environmental
behavior, they must first have an understanding of how they conceptualize the
environment. Existing literature on mental models assert that individuals interpret past
experiences through their belief systems, which are, in turn, reflected in their mental
models (Nespor, 1987). With this knowledge, one could assume that a relationship exists
between formative experiences and mental models such that formative experiences
continually influence the development of mental models, and mental models continually
influence the experiences considered to be formative. A hypothetical model to represent
the relationship between teachers formative experiences, mental models, and
environment identity is shown in Figure 6. For Doug, Molly, and Allen, an accumulation
of formative experiences outdoors in natural areas, with influential people directing
attention to the value of the environment, and traveling to different places to witness
human-environment interactions contribute to their current mental models of the
environment. These holistic mental models include both human and natural systems,
processes and interactions.
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Alternatively, the mental models teachers hold for the environment mean that the
experiences they consider formative will most likely include time spent outdoors in
natural areas, with influential people directing attention to the value of the environment,
and traveling to different places to witness human-environment interactions.
Formative experiences in environment <* *> Mental Model of environment
N 1/
Interact to
influence

Meanings attached to
the Self in relation to the
environment
(Environment Identity)
Figure 6. Hypothetical Model Relating Formative Experiences, Mental Models, and
Environment Identity
When this model is applied to findings from the formative experiences and mental models teachers
attributed to the development of their relationship with the environment, meanings attached to how
teachers view themselves in relation to the environment begin to emerge.
The combined effect of the relationship between formative experiences and
mental models on environment identity is apparent in the meanings teachers attach to
themselves in relation to the environment. Three of these meanings are shared across the
teachers and include (a) being connected to the environment, (b) being aware of the ones
role in the environment and environmental problems, and (c) being responsible for the
environment. Table 7 provides sample excerpts to support the shared meanings teachers
attach to themselves in relation to the environment.
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Table 7. Teacher Meanings for Environment Identity
Teacher Meaning Excerpt AN (Autobiographical Narrative), FG (Focus Group), II (Individual Interview)
Doug Connected My time outdoors instills in me a deep appreciation for and desire to preserve our natural world. (AN)
Aware Bringing my own conceptualization of the environment into the classroom means that students will have more of an awareness and ability to observe and question. That is, for me, what has led me to my beliefs about things. (FG)
Responsible Because of my childhood and my upbringing, I take simple, perhaps even trivial steps-tilting at the windmills, if you will. (AN)
Molly Connected I want my children to grow up immersed in nature. I really need to be in a place with super easy access to the outdoors for me to truly enjoy it and connect with it often. (AN)
Aware When you leave school grounds its a lot more about the awareness and appreciation piece because, I mean, if anything you can tell kids till you are blue in the face about something, but until they actually experience it, and are like, Wow, this forest is really cool or T do feel really good out here , its going to mean a lot more to them. (II)
Responsible For me, being a teacher at TGS means educating kids to create a better world and to not just keep worsening our world or keeping it the way it is. I am expected to teach that future. (II)
Allen Connected Rather than a belief about the importance of something outside myself, it [the environment] seems to be part of my temperament, where I feel most at ease. (AN)
Aware I hope that by the time kids are in eighth grade, their scope of awareness, and the context in which they operate, is at least national and possibly international. (FG)
Responsible We should be paying at least as much attention to climate mitigation as we do teaching common core reading, writing, and math because, in the long view, which one is honestly more important? Which one is going to have a greater impact on the outcomes of the human race? I would suggest climate change does, but at the same time, learning to read, write, and calculate so you can do things to mitigate climate change is really the goal here. (FG)
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First, being a part of the environment means feeling more connected to the
environment. If given the choice, all three teachers preferred to be outdoors than indoors
in order to feel connected to the environment. This was especially true for Doug and
Molly who expressed strong emotional connections to the outdoors and the natural
environment. Allen expressed a similar sentiment in his belief that being outdoors in the
natural environment was part of his temperament, where he feels most at ease.
Connecting with the environment via the outdoors holds personal meaning for all three
teachers environment identity. Second, being a part of the environment means having an
awareness of ones role in the environment and environmental problems. For Doug,
Molly and Allen, humans are a functioning part of the environmental system. Being
aware of the role they play in the environment and their contributions to environmental
health reflects the personal meaning they attach to their environment identity. Finally,
being part of the environment means being responsible for the environment. Teachers
formative experiences and mental models are reflected in their ideas about how humans
should interact with their environment. For Doug, Molly and Allen, the environment is
where humans live interdependently with their surroundings. In order for humans to
survive, the environment must thrive. Therefore, it is their personal responsibility to, not
only take care of the environment, but also to ensure environmental sustainability.
The findings from this study highlight the connection that exists between the
formative experiences and mental models teachers attribute to the development of their
relationship with the environment. While the formative experiences and mental models
differ slightly between each teacher, the similarities that exist across teachers reveal
shared meanings for how they view themselves in relation to the environment.
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According to Burke & Stets (2009) identity theory, when we identify the
meanings of an identity for an individual, we can predict the meanings of the persons
behavior. The shared meanings for Doug, Molly, and Allens environment identities
should serve as a indicator for how they will behave as teachers engaged in
environmental education. Not being able to enact a core identity, such as an environment
identity, can lead to feelings of inauthenticity, or lack of sense of self. For teachers
engaged in environmental education, implications exist for how schools and surrounding
social, cultural, and political structures support the efforts of these teachers in a way that
validates their environment identity. Chapter V addresses implications of environment
identity for different areas of environmental education including environmental teaching,
environmental learning, and environmental research. Future directions for environment
identity research are also suggested.
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CHAPTER V
IMPLICATIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR RESEARCH
Of course, it is of no use to direct our steps to the woods if they do not carry us
thither. (Thoreau, quoted in Thomashow, Ecological Identity, p.178)
Implications
Findings from this exploratory study of environment identity provide significant
insight into characteristics that define an environment identity. Specifically, the formative
experiences and mental models of teachers engaged in environmental education
contribute to the development of their environment identities through the shared
meanings of being connected to, aware of, and responsible for the environment and its
associated problems. Identity theory assumes that individuals are situated in social
structures where behaviors are chosen, not according to personal preference, but because
they reflect what is demanded by the different identities they occupy. If it is true that self
reflects society, as identity theory suggests, then implications exist for the structures
surrounding the development of a persons environment identity. Specific to
environmental education, supports inside and outside the school community should be in
place to enhance the development of both teacher and student environment identity.
Additionally, environmental education research should make a larger investment in
exploring the environment identities of teachers and students, and how the behaviors
associated with environment identity might impact environmental quality and problem
solving.
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Environmental teaching. The way we construct knowledge and understanding
about the environment is based on our individual perspectives and the meaning we attach
to our environment identity. If environment identity is considered a core identity, as
identity theory suggests, then the implications for teachers inability to apply these
identities in their roles as teachers might lead to decreased feelings of authenticity and
self-efficacy. Burke & Stets (2009) identity theory aligns with the idea that when we
behave in a way that is consistent with the meanings and expectations we attach to an
identity, our self-esteem rises. As a result, we maintain a sense of self and feel competent
enough to handle difficult situations. Self-efficacy is especially important for teachers
with strong environment identities who are faced with the challenging task of
implementing effective environmental education in mainstream education. Difficulties
abound for any teacher who feels obligated in their intentions to go against the norms of
traditional education. If structures are not in place to support the kind of formative
experiences and mental models that shape the meanings teachers attach to their
environment identity, then teachers begin to feel ineffective and risk losing a sense of
self.
Looking at the meanings the three teachers at TGS attach to their environment
identity (connectedness, awareness, responsibility), one could reasonably assume that
they are making efforts in their personal and professional lives to maintain their
environment identity standards each day. Engaging in environmental education is one
approach teachers use to verify their environment identities. Consequently, implications
exist if the efforts that validate teachers environment identity are not supported in the
school community.
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Teachers play a large role in shaping the culture of a school, and vice versa.
School administrators should support their teachers to develop the kind of environment
identities that strengthen a school culture grounded in environmental education. For
instance, funding for and access to field experiences and outdoor learning environments
could support teachers connection to the environment. Professional development
experiences that support of the meanings teachers hold for being aware of the
environment and environmental problems could include self-reflection exercises like
autobiographical narratives and mental model drawings, or environmental science
workshops that increase teachers environmental literacy. Additionally, a top-down and
bottom-up approach for recognizing and awarding teachers who exhibit personal
responsibility for the environment, such as riding their bike or car-pooling, would be
supportive measures to verify teachers environment identity and its corresponding
behaviors.
In essence, teachers engaged in environmental education need to feel and see that
their efforts are making a difference not only in world, but also in the lives of their
students. It is for this reason that innovative school communities like TGS maintain an
atmosphere where environment identities are acknowledged, and shared meanings are
capitalized. When environment identity development is supported, the collective impact
on student learning and in the surrounding community is one that ensures a connected,
aware, and responsible citizenry that has the knowledge and skills to effectively approach
environmental problems.
Environmental learning. Our experiences and perceptions shape the identities
that we inhabit and acquire over time. This presents a challenge for understanding how
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diverse learners establish the competencies and capacity to act for an environmentally
healthy and resilient future. The implications of exploring the formative experiences and
mental models teachers attribute to the development of their environment identities
include a better understanding of how to facilitate the kind of learning opportunities that
will assist students to develop and realize their own environment identities. If the
meanings teachers attribute to the development of their own environment identity include
feeling connected, aware, and responsible for the environment, then providing relevant
and developmentally appropriate experiences that allow students to make their own
connections to the environment is a worthy endeavor. One way teachers can support
students in their environment identity development is by guiding students in self-
reflection and self-assessment strategies where they can assimilate new knowledge into
their mental model of the environment. For instance, teachers can take their students to a
public park where they could observe and collect data on how the park is used. Measures
and indicators can then be determined to see what variables and interrelationship are
necessary to restore, regenereate or maintain the overall health of the park. This
experience builds students awareness of their surroundings and their own role in the
environment. It can also be applied to navigating a tragedy of the commons scenario in
which the degradation of a known resource occurs as a result of open and unmanaged
access. Knowing ones own environment identity is a valuable skill to have when faced
with environmental problems and problem solving challenges that involve complex
situations. With practice and over time, students develop the habit of asking themselves:
Am I connected to my environment? Am I aware of what is happening in my
environment? Am I being responsible for my environment? If so, how? If not, why not?
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As a result of this type of critical reflection, students become empowered because they
are acutely cognizant of their own perceptions of self in the environment and the
meanings they (and others) attach to their relationship with the environment.
Environmental education research. The interdisciplinary nature of
environmental education inherently fragments the literature that supports it. This presents
a challenge for environmental education researchers to be clear in their intentions and to
consider a plurality of epistemologies, ontologies, and methodologies when exploring
complex concepts such as environment identity (Dillon &Wals, 2006). For instance, in
order to contextualize teachers environment identity within the field of environmental
education, this study pulls from literature that is specific to environmental education;
however, the theoretical framework of identity theory is grounded in the social and
psychological sciences. Within the social and psychological domains of identity research,
different theories exist related to the development of identities. For instance, social
identity theorists emphasize the classification of an individual identity in terms of social
groupings. Conversely, identity theorists in psychology focus on the internal processes
and role expectations in individual identity development. For the purposes of this study,
Burke & Stets (2009) identity theory was used because it evolved from and merged both
social and psychological identity theories. What remains unknown at this point is exactly
how ideologies of education, environmental education, and even science education fit
within identity theory, and how environmental education researchers can best clarify their
positioning amongst a plurality of different approaches.
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Future Directions for Research
The findings from this study clearly indicate a need to better our understanding of
factors related to how individuals develop an environment identity. For instance,
formative experiences and mental models contribute to the development of an
environment identity, but it remains unknown to what degree these factors influence the
longitudinal impact of environment identity development over time. Other studies
exploring formative experiences and mental models express similar directions for future
research. For instance, in their studies of mental models, Shepardson et al. (2007) and
Moseley et al. (2010b) highlight the need to determine the impact of life experiences on
conceptualizations of the environment as well as the influence of social and cultural
factors on the development of mental models. Chawla & Derr (2012) also recognize the
importance of utilizing comparison groups in future studies of significant life
experiences. This study of the environment identity of teachers engaged in environmental
education would benefit from a comparison group of teachers within TGS and with
teachers in other schools.
Finally, the findings from this study have implications for continued research on
the relationship between environment identity development and environmental literacy
development. One purpose of environmental education is to ensure that individuals have
the knowledge and skills needed to protect and improve the environment for all living
things. An overarching goal for environmental education is to promote an active and
environmentally literate citizenry, which according to Charles Roth (1992) includes the
capacity to perceive and interpret the relative health of environmental systems and take
appropriate action to maintain, restore, or improve the health of those systems (p.10).
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Full Text

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E NVIRONMENT IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT : EXPLORING THE FORMATIVE EXPERIENCES AND MENTAL MODELS OF TEACHERS ENGAGED IN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION by HILLARY MARIE MASON B.S., University of Nebraska Lincoln, 2000 B.S., Peru State College, 2003 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science Environmental Sciences 2013

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ii This thesis for the Master of Science degree by Hillary M. Mason has been approved for the Environmental Sciences Program by Bryan Wee Chair Brad McLain Katie Navin November 15, 2013

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iii Mason, Hillary, M. (M.S. Environmental Science ) Environment Identity Development : Exploring the Formative Experiences and Mental Models of Teachers Engaged in Environmental Education Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Bryan Wee ABSTRACT This investigation explores the formative experiences and mental models teachers engaged in environmental education attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment, and how these factors might shape teachers' environment identity E nvironment identity has been shown to be an important antecedent of environmental prefer e nces, intentions and behaviors; yet, envi ronmental education h as taken only minimal efforts to include theories of identity into its research. This study suggests that teachers engaged in environmental education have an environment identity that is shaped by the experiences they consider formative to the development of their relationship with the environment and the mental models they use to conceptualize the environmen t. Participants of this case study included t hree teachers at an urban Early Childhood Education (ECE) 8 school who actively utilize some form of environmental education as part of their everyday classroom instruction Identity theory was used as a theoret ical framework to further understand how teachers' formative experiences and mental models might shape their environment identity, or the set of meanings they attach to themselves in relation to the environment. Methods used to elicit this information included online survey, autobiogra p h ical narrative, semi structured individual interview, and focus group discussion. Data analysis followed an interpretive approach where relevant themes and categories were allowed to emerge from inductive coding processe s. The findings of this

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iv study reveal ed similarities in the type s of formative experiences and mental models teachers attributed to the development of their relationsh ip with the environment. Furthermore, teachers' formative experiences and mental models sh ape d their environment identity by assigning significance to certain meanings for how they viewed themselves in relation to the environment. These shared meanings include d being connected to aware of and responsible for the environment The results of this study inform environmental education by illuminating elements and processes of environment identity development. Additionally, the t heoretical and practical implications for supporting environment identity development through environmental education are discussed The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Bryan Wee

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v DEDICATION I dedicate this work to my family, friends, and mentors who provided unconditional support during my master's degree experience.

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vi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank m y committee advisor and mentor, Dr. Bryan Wee for making this thesis possible. Dr. Wee spent an incalculable amount of time and energy devoted to helping me reign in my own thoughts on the complex concept of environment identity. Not only did he challenge me to think beyond my own realm of knowledge, he believed in me at times when I didn't believe in myself. Fo r this I am eternally grateful, and I hope to pas s along this "academic genealogy to my own graduate students one day.

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vii TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 1 Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 1 Statement of the Problem ................................ ................................ ........................ 2 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................ 5 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ 7 Conceptual and Operational Definitions ................................ ................................ 7 Thesis Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 9 II. RESEARCH DESIGN AND STUDY CONTEXT ................................ ..................... 10 Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ......................... 10 Epistemological Foundations ................................ ................................ ................ 12 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 13 Study Site ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 14 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 18 Data Collection Methods ................................ ................................ ...................... 20 Data Analys is ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 26 III. LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 29 Significant Life Experiences ................................ ................................ ................. 31 Mental Models ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 36 IV. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ .............. 40 Identity Profiles ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 41 Formative Experiences ................................ ................................ .......................... 50 Mental Models ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 67 Shaping Environment Identity ................................ ................................ .............. 79

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viii V. IMPLICATIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR RESEARCH ....................... 85 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 85 Future Directions for Research ................................ ................................ ............. 90 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 92 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 93 APPENDICES ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 102 A. EfS MISSION AND STANDARDS ................................ ............................ 103 B. ENVIRONMENTS TASK, PART I ................................ ............................. 104 C. ENVIRONMENT IDENTITY BIPOLAR SCALE ................................ ...... 105 D. ENVIRONMENT IDENTITY BIPOLAR SCALE RESULTS .................... 106 E. ENVIRONMENTS TASK, PART I RESULTS ................................ ........... 1 07 F. AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NARRATIVE PROMPT ................................ ..... 111 G. INDIVIDUAL INTERVIE W GUIDE ................................ .......................... 112 H. FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE ................................ ..................... 113

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ix LIST OF TABLES T able 1. Participant Demographics ................................ ................................ ............................ 19 2. Methods Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 21 3. Doug's Identity Pile Sort ................................ ................................ ............................. 43 4. Molly's Identity Pile Sort ................................ ................................ ............................. 45 5. Allen's Identity Pile Sort ................................ ................................ ............................. 47 6. Summary of Teachers' Mental Models of the Environment ................................ ....... 68 7. Teacher Meanings for Environment Identity ................................ ............................... 82

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x LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. EfS Bulletin Board At TGS ................................ ................................ ......................... 16 2. Miles &Huberman (1994) Conceptual Model for Data Analysis ................................ 27 3. Doug's Drawing of the Environment ................................ ................................ ........... 69 4. Molly's Drawing of the Environment ................................ ................................ .......... 72 5. Allen's Drawing of the Environment ................................ ................................ ........... 75 6. Hypothetical Model Relating Formative Experie nces, Mental Models, and Environment Identity ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 81

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1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Background "After many years of scientific domination of the decline of environmental quality, environmental issues are now increasingly recognized as legitimate social and global issues with distinct implications for children's education" (Hart, 2003, p. xiii xiv). Environmental and social problems, at one t ime possibly considered abstract and far removed from our daily lives, continue to evolve into complex, interdependent issues of pe rsonal relevance At the heart of these problems are the human environment relationships that provide the context and capacit y for environmental sustainability and human well being It is in the different ways individuals and communities construct their relationship with the environment, and the meanings they attach to themselves in relation to the environment, that have implica tions for an environmental education that ensures a healthy, just, and resilient planet (Kyburz Graber, 2013). Central to environmental education efforts is the production of knowledgeable and aware citizens who are motivated to actively engage in environmental decision making and problem solving (Stapp et al., 1969). In some cases, t raditional educational approaches used to support this vision attach importance to ecological knowledge transfer and behavior change (Coyle, 2005; Hungerford & Volk, 19 90), while neglectin g individual and social perspectives As environmen tal problems make their presence felt in our daily lives, it is not only knowledge but also our environment identities that determine our motivation to know and act. Specifically, the w ay that we identify

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2 ourselves in relation to the environment influences what we perceive to have meaning and shapes our response to environmental changes. Statement of the Problem Environmental education is intended to engage humanity to make informed dec isions and take knowledgeable actions to address complex, multi faceted issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, urbanization, ecosystem mismanagement, and overconsumption of natural resources (UNESCO, 1997). Embedded in this and other visions for environmental education is the importance of conceptualizing the environment in its totality such that it represents "a complex of natural, built and social components in the life of humanity" (UNESCO, 197 8 p. 26). Environmental educa tion is designed to enable all people to construct their own understandings of how they view the environment and environmental problems in order to make useful contributions to the world around them (UNESCO, 1978). Consequently, it is under the premise of these foundational principles of environmental education that further explorations into the link between identity, environment, and education can progress. The intentions of environmental education become problematized upon the realization that each of u s possesses distinct identities with attributes that regulate how we situate and perceive ourselves in different roles and contexts (e.g. in the environment, as a researcher, as a teacher, as a learner). The following sections briefly illuminate some tensi ons that exist when considering identity in specific roles relevant to environmental education.

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3 Identity and the researcher in environmental e ducation. I dentity is a multidimensional concept that reaches across disciplines of environmental psychology, environmental sociology, environmental science, and environmental education. Current literature in these different disciplines acknowledges the reciprocal relationship that exists between identity and the environment (Blatt, 2013; Clayton, 2012; Stets & Bi ga, 2003). Given the interdisciplinary nature of identity research, however, there are just as many ways to investigate identity and the environment as there are identities. For example, from an environmental psychology perspective, research on identity an d the environment might emphasize internalized attributes of moral and emotional identity to assign significance to an individual's relationship with the environment (Clayton, 2003). Environmental sociologists might focus on the social component of identit y development in certain environments or within specific groups of people (Stets & Biga, 2003). While not as prevalent in the literature, environmental s cience education researchers may combine approaches from both natural and so cial sciences to understand how learners develop an identity in relation to the environment and how this identity is applied in environmental problem solving (Blatt, 2013). Despite similar research objectives, t he variation of different approaches used to explore relationships betwe en identity and the environment result in the fragmentation of relevant literature. This presents a challenge for environmental education researchers to be clear in their intentions and to consider a plurality of epistemologies, ontologies, and methodologi es when exploring environment identity (Dillon &Wals, 2006).

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4 Identity and the teacher in environmental e ducation. Concepts of identity resonate not only with environmental problem solving approaches, but also with the approaches we use for environmental teaching and learning. In a recent survey asking environmen tal education researchers what they believed were the most relevant topics in environmental education, Ardoin et al. (2012) identified an increasing interest in culturally embedded learning and it s implications for identity and capacity building within the framework of environmental sustainability. The way we construct knowledge a nd understanding about the environment (and education, for that matter) is a product of social processes, experiences, b eliefs, ideologies, and history. These factors influence not only teachers conceptualizations of th e environment, but also the meanings they attribute to themselves in relation to the environment or their environment identity Consequently, teachers tend to choose, design and shape their environmental education efforts i n alignment with their own identities and, ideally, the identities of their students. If teachers attac h certain meanings to how they perceive themselves in relation to the environment then their behaviors and actions will likely reflect these meanings in the classroom. This presents the need for additional inquiries on the link between identity and environment al teaching in environmental education. Identity and the learner in enviro nmental e ducation. Declines in environmental quality have long been interpreted within traditional science paradigms advocating a discourse focused on observable facts (Gough, 2013; Hart, 2003). In these paradigms, the way we interpret the environment and our relationship to the environment is subject to objectification, where environmental problems are reduced to generalizable ecological principles with minimal to no accounting for individual realities or different

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5 ways of knowing (Lundholm et al., 2013). T he mechanization of science presents a challenge for understanding how diverse learners establish the competencies and capacity to act for a healthy and sustainable future. E nvironmental p roblems and issues are becoming increasingly complex, and scientific knowledge is often uncertain and contested. If, as Clayton (2012) suggests, our experiences and perceptions shape the identities that we inhabit and acquire over time, then engaging learners in environmental education will require a cknowledging how they conceptualize the environment and how they perceive themselves in r elation to the environment. This presents the need for additional inquiries on the link between identity and environmental learning in environmental education. Signifi cance of the Study Identities are developed and shaped by the different experiences that influence how we perceive and relate to the world around us. Once the meanings attached to any particular identity are understood, predictions can be made for the beh aviors tied to that identity (Burke & Stets, 2009). For example, as Reitzes & Burke (1980) conclude in their study of college students, if a person understands the identity of a student or student identity' to be academically responsible, intellectually c urious, sociable, and personally assertive, then we can assume that this person will exhibit these behaviors as a student. The larger assumption is that these behaviors are characteristic of the identity of other students as well (Burke & Stets, 2009). O perating under this premise, the aim of this study is to explore different characteristics that define the environment identity of teachers engaged in environmental education. Given that people have a tendency to act in alignment with their identities in

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6 a ny given situation (Burke & Stets, 2009), explorations of teachers' environment identities might further elucidate not only how teachers share their knowledge and perceptions of the environment with students in the classroom (Desjean Perrotta et al., 2008) but also how students interpret teachers' perceptions to construct their own environmental understandings and whether or not they possess/express environment identities similar to their teacher. Additionally, this is helpful for schools seeking to emphas ize environmental education in their curriculum because it provides administrators with insights into the teaching philosophies of their teachers' vis ˆ vis the environment, as well as relevant information on the kind of structure teachers need to support new practic es consistent with their beliefs Environmental education requires that teachers and students have an understanding of ecological concepts such as systems and interdependen ce (NAAEE, 2010). It also requires the infusion and integration of socia l sciences and the humanities. Research in environmental education has historically proceeded with only a limited inclusion of human dimensions that include how people come to know, interpret, interact with and seek meaning in their rel ationship with the e nvironment. Acknowledging the diversity of social contexts from which different individuals and communities perceive and attach meaning to the self in relation to the environment facilitates the broader approaches needed for environmental education research and practice to evolve (Hart & Nolan, 1999). By exploring characteristics that define the environment identity of teachers engaged in environmental education, this study acknowledges the significance of the personal and social surroundings in which the environmental perspectives of different individuals and communities are developed and materialized.

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7 Research Questions Identities are developed and shaped by the different experiences that influence how we perceive and relate to the world around us. The broad scope of this study targets the relationship between identity and environment in environmental education. A narrower and more explicit focus for this study ex plores the formative experiences and mental models that contribute to the environment identity of teachers engaged in environmental education. With these aims in mind, this study is guided by the following research questions: 1. What formative experiences do teachers engaged in environmental education attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment ? a. How might these formative experiences shape teachers' environment identity? 2. What mental models do teachers engaged in environmental educat ion attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment? b. How might these mental models shape teachers' environment identity? Conceptual and Operational Definitions Identity is "a set of meanings attached to the self that serves as a standard or reference that guides behavior in situations" (Stets & Biga, 2003, p.401). Identity theory posits that each of us has multiple identities that are developed and activated in different places, social structures, and relationships. The set of meaning s we attach to each identity operates as an individual point of reference or "true north" that guides how we perceive and respond in different situations.

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8 Environment identity is "the meanin gs one attributes to the self in relation to the environment" (Stets & Biga, 2003, p.406). These meanings are reflected in environmental behaviors and actions. Environment identity is viewed as one type of identity that operates across various roles and so cial situations It is also representative of one's core identity, or sense of self in relation to something else. Acknowledging a core identity fosters feelings of authenticity, such that one is being true to oneself (Burke & Stets, 2009). Environment identity should not be confused with how one places the self in relation to the environment. It should be viewed as how one perceives the self in relation to the environment. Formative experiences are those experiences identified as having a profound influence on the formation and activation of an identity. They influence the development of mental models teachers use to represent how they relate to the environment. In this case, a teacher's formative experiences contribute to how teachers view themselves in relation to the environment and, subsequently, are viewed as one characteristic to describe the development of an environment identity. Mental models are "internal representations of phenomena based on prior knowledge, existing ideas or co nceptions, and past experiences" (Shepardson et al, 2007, p.330). They influence the way a person perceives experiences across time and space, as well as the degree of influence attributed to these experiences. In this case, a teacher's mental model contri bute s to how they view themselves in relation to the environment and, subsequently, are viewed as one c haracteristic to describe the development of an environment identity.

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9 Meanings refer to the characteristics or attributes that individuals see as representing who they are, how they feel, and what they value" (Stets & Biga, 2003, p. 403). The meanings that an individual attaches to an identity are internalized and reflected in how one perceiv es the self in certain situations (e.g. social roles, membership in a group). In this case, the meaning s that teacher 's attach t o their environment identity are influenced by formative experiences and mental models which in turn influence behaviors and ac tions Thesis Overview This chapter presented an introduction to the study, background and problem statement, purpose, research questions and study significance. Chapter II presents a theoretical framework, defines concepts, explains philosophical foundations, and describes research design, site selection participant s data collection methods and analysis. Chapters III provides an overview of relevant literature on formative experiences and mental models in the context of environment al education Chapter IV presents findings and a discussion on the formative experiences and mental models contributing to the development of teachers' environment identity. Chapter V is focused on the implications of this research for environmental educat ion as well a s directions for further study.

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10 CHAPTER II RESEARCH DESIGN AND STUDY CONTEXT Theoretical Framework "The key to understanding qualitative research lies with the idea that meaning is socially constructed by individuals in interaction with their world." (Merriam, 2002, p.3) The concept of identity recognizes how individuals see themselves in terms of the meanings they perceive from their affiliations and interactions in social structu res and the roles they play within those structures (Stryker, 1980). As we act upon our identities, we influence the structure of society. Conversely, existing social structures tend to shape our identities (Burke & Stets, 2009). This mutual relationship h elps to contextualize how individual identities are developed and how individuals in specific roles relate to the environment. In the most recent edition of the International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education leading EE researchers suggest a re orientation of environmental education research toward the understudied areas of individuals' worldviews, belief systems, and identities (Stevenson et al., 2013). Research approaches that offer broader insight into the connections between identity, env ironmental teaching and learning can open a pathway for new inquiries on how different aspects of an identity might influence individual courses of action in relation to the environment. Environment identity is one aspect of environmental education that t ranscends the boundaries of what we know about human environment relationships. Environment identity in the con text of environmental education asks (a) how individuals see themselves in relation to the environment, (b) how the meanings attached to the self in this relationship might guide environmental teaching and learning, and (c) how this

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11 learning might motivate participation in solutions to multi faceted environmental problems. By exploring the environment identities of teachers engaged in environmental education, we get a glimpse of their personal perspectives on the environment and the motivations behind why they engage in environmental education. Research with explicit links between environmental education and identity is limited at best. However, asp ects of identity originating from different disciplines (e.g. environmental psychology and environmental sociology) use a variety of frameworks that can be consolidated to support efforts to explore environment identity and its implications for environmental education theory and practice. Identity theory as a theoretical framework allows for a purposeful exploration of the meanings that teachers give to their environment identity. According to the identity theory presented by social psychologists Peter Burke & Jan Stets (2009), individuals possess standards, or sets of meanings, for how they define and characterize themselves in relation to other people, places and things These identity standards are internalized and developed over time, serving as points of reference guid ing behavior and promoting authenticity Most important for this study identity theory posits that people choose behaviors tha t are aligned with the meanings of their identities. Using Burke & Stets' (2009) identity theory, Stets & Biga (2003) suggest that, "in order to predict how one behaves, we need to examine the identities that individuals claim and the corresponding meani ngs of these identities" (p.398 ). The meanings individuals attach to the self as a part of the environment and vice versa constitute their environment identity. Identity theory then, is an appropriate theoretical lens to frame the broad array of experien ces associated with teachers' environment identities in this study.

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12 Epistemological Foundations Qualitative research locates the observer in the world (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). It involves using a set of practices and tools to represent the realities of the knower and the known, while attempting to make sense of the meanings people give to different phenomena. One objective for using a qualitative approach to inquiry is to "explicate the ways people in particular settings come to understand, account for, take action, and manage their day to day situations" (Miles & Huberman, 1984, p.7). The emphasis of locating teachers' environment identity and the meanings they attach to this identity makes this study suitable for using a qualitative approach. This study is grounded in a framework that is informed by Burke & Stets' (2009) theory for identity. A guiding assumption of identity theory is that each of us develops internal standards, or identity standards, for how we perceive ourselves in different situations and interactions. These standards are arranged along a continuum of meanings that we use to define the identities we inhabit. For instance, in this study, teachers' environment identity standards might be characterized by their formative experiences in the environment and their mental models for the environment. These standards might contribute not only to the range of meanings teachers' give to their environment identity, but also the motivation to be engaged in environmental education. Utilizing a quali tative approach to inquiry and a theoretical framework of identity theory to explore the environment identity of teachers engaged in environmental education positions this study for a case study research design.

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13 Research Design The research design used fo r this study was driven by its research questions to explore the formative e xperiences and mental models teachers engaged in environmental education attribute to their relationship with the environment and how these experiences and mental models might sha pe the development of an environment identity. Case study methodology was employed using a purposive study sample of 16 teachers and a convenience sample of three teachers (cases) in one urban school. Teachers at this school engage in some form of environmental education every day, as it is a significant part of school culture and practice. The use of case study in this research presented an opportunity to probe for deeper insight and understanding using a variety of methods (Yin, 2003). This flexibility allowed for the development of thick descriptions, or what Stake (1995) refers to as "wha t is perceived to be the case's own issues, contexts, and interpretations" (p.450). Case study as an approach for exploratory investigations grounded in past research opens the door for previously unsuspected relationships that often accompany complex conc epts, such as environment identity. Given the unique nature and context of this study, using a case study design ensured the richness and depth needed to understand the multiple perspectives implicit in the complex phenomenon of environment identity. The t hree participating teachers in this study comprised the individual cases, or unit of analysis, to explore environment identity. Each case was bounded by the formative experiences and mental models teachers' attributed to the development of their relation sh ip with the environment and the meanings they attach to their environment identity. The synergy between the self and environment was of utmost importance in providing a holistic

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14 description of each case. Identity varies individually, and this research atte mpted to maintain focus on the integrity of each individual c ase while also making room for emergent patterns and potential comparisons across cases. Study Site To preserve anonymity and ensure confidentiality, pseudonyms are used for the school and stud y participants This study was conducted at Tucker Green School in the Denver Public School District. Tucker Green School (T GS) is an Early Childhood Education (ECE) 8 neighborhood school situated in an urban area of a city with a population of approximate ly 600,000 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). The mission statement for TGS outlines a school culture that is focused on providing learning opportunities for its students to be leaders of a sustainable planet: In partnership with our diverse urban community, [ TGS ] will provide a hands on, brains on experience that includes all students, staff, families and community, preparing all learners to lead the way toward a sustainable, bright green future. (retrieved online, October 2013). At the time of this study, T GS was preparing for its 4 th year since opening its doors to serve a socio economically, linguistically, culturally, and academically diverse community. Student enrollment was approaching over 500 students from 18 different countries with a gender makeup of 5 2% male and 48% female. Ethnicity of the student population showed a profile of 42% Anglo, 27% Latino /a 18% African American, 3% Asian, 2% American Indian, and 8% other. Additionally, 60% of the student population qualified for free and reduced lunch and 20% qualified for English Language Learner services.

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15 The population of teachers at TGS at the tim e of this study included 37 three quarter to full time teach ers with ethnicity percentages of 87% Caucasian, 8% Hispanic, a nd 5% African Amer ican. Of the 37 teachers, 38% w e re male and 62% were female. The average age range of teachers was 26 45 with an average of 9.75 years teaching experience. Site s election. T GS is a public school developed as a progressive approach to education reform efforts. Included in thi s approach is the autonomy for T GS to implement its own unique program design. This school was selected for this study primarily because of its use of Education for Sustainabilit y (EfS) in school functioning. T GS is the first school in its large urban district to intentionally include sustainability as an essential component for infusion in community culture, curriculum, instruction and assessment practices. As a result of these efforts, T GS was one of the first in the nation to earn t he U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award. This honor recognizes schools and school districts implementing innovative best practices to reduce environmental impact and costs, improve health and wellness, and provide effective environmental and sustainability education (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). The following image (Figure 1) was taken at TGS and emphasize s a school culture and community that strives toward their mission of sustainability.

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16 Figure 1 EfS Bulletin Board At TGS Curriculum c ontext. For the purposes of this study, EfS was considered as one form of environmental education with the goal of enhancing socio ecological knowledge about and concern for, human environment interactions while empowering students to engage in environmental beh aviors within their communities. For purposes of consistency, EfS is referred to as "environmental education" in this study. While this study recognizes the epistemological and practical differences that might exist between environmental and sustainability educ ation, the common ground is considered most important. Foundational principles for both environmental and sustainability education acknowledge that environmental and social systems a re interdependent. Theoretical underpinnings of both fields also reco gnize that e nvironmental, social, and economic resilience can only be achieved by integrating aspects of individual, social, and environmental well being.

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17 As Clayton (2012) adeptly put it: "People live in environments, and in the long term healthy individ uals will not thrive in an unjust society or an unhealthy environment. Taking action to protect the environment may have both direct and indirect benefits for those involved." (p. 682). To re iterate, while individual epistemological differences migh t ex ist, the theoretical goal s and practical goals are the same. EfS emphasizes a learner centered approach for developing the knowledge and habits of mind needed to address the interdisciplinary nature of environmental problems and the socioeconomic issues that surround them. It is a curriculum that has an independent structure and standards developed by the Cloud Institute ( The Cloud Institute, 2013; see Appendix A for EfS mission and standards) A typical day at T GS is structured for project based learning where students and teachers are often found engaged in practical, hands on experiences taking place throughout the energy efficient building, working farm and community garden, and surrounding community. As a relatively new school, T GS is currently in the process of developing a strong foundation of EfS programming. Current teachers are tasked wit h designing and implementing in terdisciplinary lessons that integrate state academic standards with the EfS standards intended to prepare students to participa te in sustainable behaviors and lead in a sustainable future. Teachers' professional development for EfS pedagogy is further supported with 4 5 half and full day EfS workshops and one day of individualized bi weekly coaching with the EfS coordinator durin g teacher planning time (P ersonal communication with school founder September 1, 2013).

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18 Participants Participant s election. All teachers at T GS were invited to participate in an online survey. The survey was used to obtain a glimpse of the overall envir onment identity of teachers at T GS and to eventually provide a context for the individual case studies. A sample of 16 teachers (N=16) out of 37 (43%) provided complete responses to the online survey Given the time constraints for teachers during a busy school year, a convenience sample of 3 teachers (n=3) from the pool of 16 consented to continue participating and completed the autobiographical narrative, the focus group and individual interviews. Ha ving only three teachers was conducive to this study given the aim of providing a rich description of the environment identity of individual teachers engaged in environmental education at T GS. Table 1 presents p articipant demographics for two sample popula tions of teachers.

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19 Table 1 Participant Demographics Note. Case study teachers 1, 2 and 3 are in bold. a At the time of this study, Teacher 3 was not teaching a specific grade level and had assumed the position of curriculum coordinator at the school. He often substitutes for teachers at all grade levels and subjects. Teacher Characteristics Years Teaching Years at TGS Grade Level Teaching Subject Teaching Gender 1 > 5 1 K 5 All M 2 2 1 K 5 All F 3 a > 10 3 ECE 8 All M 4 1 1 k 5 Reading F 5 5 1 6 8 Science M 6 4 3 ECE All F 7 5 2 6 8 English F 8 5 1 6 8 English F 9 2 2 k 5 All F 10 > 5 2 k 5 All F 11 > 5 1 k 5 All F 12 > 10 1 k 5 All M 13 3 2 6 8 English, ESL F 14 2 2 ECE 8 Health/PE M 15 2 1 k 5 All F 16 >10 3 k 8 All M Average > 7 2 Male = 6 Female = 10

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20 Data Collection Methods The sources used for data collection in this study aligned with the needs of the research questions and advocated an exploratory approach for capturing the environment identity of teachers engaged in environmental education. Data collection methods of onli ne survey, autobiographical narrative, interview, and focus group were used to elicit the formative experiences and mental models associated with teachers' environment identities. A more detailed description of the utility and purpose of each data source can be seen in Table 2 The methods used in this study gave teachers the opportunity to reflect on and express (a) t he formative ex periences they attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment, (b) the mental models they attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment (c) the meanings they attach to themselves in relation to the enviro nment, and (d) the motivations that continue to drive their engage ment in environmental education.

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21 Table 2 Methods Overview Data Source Measure Utility and Purpose Survey Stets & Biga (2003) Bipolar Scale 1. n= 16 2. How do you view yourself in relation to the environment? Where would you place yourself between each of the statements? Shepardson et al. (2007) Environments Task, part I 1. n= 16 2. Do these images depict the environment? Justify your answer. primary source of information to provide an overview or sense of teachers' environment identity at TGS to contextualize the environment identities of teachers' engaged in environmental education at TGS Autobio graphical Narrative Chawla (1999 ) 1. n= 3 case studies 2. Allow your thoughts to go back in time and return to the present day. Contemplate and describe, in your own words, the parts of your life that have shaped (and/or continue to shape) how you know, relate to and interact with, the environment. primary sourc e of information for teachers' formative experiences to identify the formative experiences teachers' attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment Semi structured Interview McLain (2012) Identity Pile Sort 1. n= 3 2. Think about what best describes who you are. What is included in your definition of "me?" 3. What is included in your definition of "not me?" 4. Think about the various identities or roles you take on in your life. List and number each on an index card. Please rank your id entities in terms of: a. Your perceived importance for each b. Amount of time spent in each c. Most pleasing to least pleasing to inhabit. Why did you rank this way? d. Your ideal self your most desired rank order in an ideal world. Why did you rank this way? 5. What does it mean to you to be a teacher at T GS? What do you feel is expected of you in this role? 6. What elements or characteristics, if any, do you bri ng to the role of a teacher at T GS that are perhaps different from the traditional or societally expected role? In other words, what do you bring to the role because you are you? secondary source of information for teachers' formative experiences and mental models to establish and verify the self meanings for an environment identity in the context of differe nt roles (i.e. teacher) Focus Group Shepardson et al. (2007) Environments Task, part II 1. n= 3 2. Describe and explain your drawing. 3. What does your drawing represent? 4. What does the term "environment" mean to you? 5. What does the term "environment" mean to you as a teacher at T GS? 6. Is there anything else you would include in the drawing? 7. Is there anything you did not include in your drawing? Why did you not include this/these things? 8. Did the experiences from your narratives contribute to your drawing? If so, how? If not, why? 9. Did the experiences from your narratives contribute to how you feel or act toward the environment? If so, how? If not, why? primary source of information for teachers' mental models of the environment to identify how teachers conceptual ize the environment to member check for narratives

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22 Online Survey. An online survey was administered to all teachers at T GS. The primary purpose for using the instrument was to give an overview of the teachers' environment identities, their mental models of the environment, and also to contextualize the data from the individual case studies (teachers). After listing the first t hree terms that came to mind to describe the environment, teachers completed two measures in the survey. The first measure was a component of the Environments Task used by Shepardson et al. (2007 ; see Appendix B for this measure ). It consisted of seven ima ges reflecting natural and human managed environments. Not all of the images are identical to the Shepardson et al. (2007) version, but they capture the essence of the original images. Teachers were asked if they thought each picture represented an environ ment and to justify their answer. This data source served as one measure to gauge teachers' mental models of the environment. A second measure in the survey asked teachers about one dimension of environment identity. Stets & Biga's (2003 ; see Appendix C for this measure ) 11 item bipolar scale measures ho w individuals view themselves in relation to the environm ent. Teachers were prompted to p lace themselves between 11 bipolar statements representing a spectrum of meanings for the self in relation to the en vironment Placement along each scale indicated an individual's perception of self as being environmentally friendly or environmentally unfriendly Responses ranged from 1 to 5, where 1 represented agreement on one side of the bipolar scale (e.g. environme ntally unfriendly), and 5 represented agreement on the opposi te side of the bipolar scale (e.g. environmentally friendly). Responses of 3 represented a neutral placement on the scale. A higher score on the scale represents an environmentally friendly ident ity. The 11 item bipolar scale used

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23 by S tets and Biga (2003) is the only validated tool that exists to measure environment identity as defined within the parameters of this study. No criterion categories between the bipolar s tatements have been established ; Stets & Biga (2003) suggest further research in this area. Data coll ected from the online survey were prepared for analysis using the following steps: 1. Data were transferred from online survey format into an interactive Excel spreadsheet for maneuverability. 2. To ensure anonymity, teacher identification labels were assigned for all teachers completing the survey (N=16). 3. Data were separated into three spreadsheets sh owing result s for all items on the survey, e nvironments task, and bi polar scale. This provided a birds eye view of the data overall and by task. Teacher responses from each measure in the survey can be found in Appendices D and E 4. Data were further separa ted by teacher into separate Word documents to gain clarity on teachers' overall environment identity as well as any similarit ies and differences between teachers. Autobiographical n arratives. Autobiographical narratives offer a flexible medium for recall of significant memories, experiences, and interpretations (Chawla, 1998). The three teachers making up the individual case studies were prompted to write a narrative on the parts of their life that they believed to have shaped, and/or continue to shape, h ow they know, relate to and interact with the environment The prompt for the a utobiographical narrative can be found in Appendix F. Teachers were given 2 weeks to complete the narrative and no further instructions were provided. In other words, these

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24 narr atives are also embedded with teachers' interpretations of environment and environment identity. The narratives were used to attain clarity on the formative experiences contributing to how participating teachers viewed themselves in relation to the environ ment. Data collected from the autobiographical narratives were prepared using the following steps: 1. Teacher identification labels used in the online survey portion were assigned to ensure anonymity of the three teachers participating as case. 2. Text from the narratives was triple spaced to allow for ease in coding. 3. Line numbers were added for line by line coding. Semi s tructured i ndividua l i nterview The teachers representing the three cases in this study were asked to participate individually in a semi stru ctured interview. Interviews are useful for obtaining in depth information and gaining an understanding of participant's perspectives, beliefs, and motivations (Johnson & Christensen, 2012). For the interview portion of data collection, teachers were asked to think about and describe their identities and counter identities, or what they viewed as "me" and "not me". Following this discussion, teachers were asked to list on index cards the various identities they take on in their life. The list was followed u p with a pile sorting activity where teachers were asked to arrange and rank the identities on each index card according to their perceived importance for each, the amount of time spent in each, the most pleasing to least pleasing to inhabit, and the ir ide al self in an ideal world. The individual interview guide used for this activity can be found in Appendix G. This exercise was adapted from McLain (2012) and was used as a tool to locate the different identities each teacher assumes according to specific c riteria It also provided information on the meanings

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25 teachers give to their different identities. The results from this exercise were used to show a cross section, or slice of each teachers' identity profile. Th e interview concluded with other questions related to how teachers feel about the importance of their relationship with the environment and their motivations as teachers engaged in environmental education at TGS Focus g roup. F ocus groups are used to collect qualitative data in the wo rds of the pa rticipant. They are especially useful as a complement to other methods of data collection, and provided in depth information in a short amount of time (Johnson & Christensen, 2012). As a final source of data, one focus group took place with all three parti cipating teachers. The focus group served as a venue to administer the second component of Shepardson et al.'s (2007) Environments Task Guiding questions for the focus group discussion can be found in Appendix H. Teachers were asked to draw a picture of t he environment and to explain the drawing in their own words. This visual tool was used to explore teachers' mental models for the environment, and augmented the data collected from other portion s of the study. A secondary objective for the focus group was to guide teachers in a shared reflection on select excerpts from their autobiographical narratives The purpose of this discussion was to verify researcher interpretations of the narratives (member check) and to facilitate dialogue between teachers on how past experiences and mental models might or might not have shaped the meanings and motivation for the environment and environmental education.

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26 Data from the individual, semi structured interviews and focus groups were prepared for analysis using the following steps: 1. Audio were recorded and downloaded to a secure server. 2. Audio data were transcribed and teacher identification labels were assigned to ensure anonymity of the three teachers participating as case. 3. Text from the transcriptions was triple spaced to allow for ease in coding. 4. Line numbers were added for line by line coding. Data Analysis Data from each case study was analyzed using an interpretivist lens to gain insight into the multiple realities and lived expe riences of each teacher. Interpretivism assumes that certain meanings are inherent in the way a person acts, and it is the task of the inquirer to reveal and interpret those meanings (Schwandt, 2001). Acquiring a practical understanding of how people defin e their experiences and interactions is a central concept for interpretive qualitative inquiries (Bogdan & Biklen, 2010). Using an interpretivist lens also implies an emphasis on the authenticity of participants' voices as a window into the subjective worl ds they inhabit. This study relied on the co construction of meanings attained from methods of autobiographical narrative, interview, and focus group. These strategies align with the objectives of an interpretive analysis process by facilitating a deep und erstanding of the environment identity of teachers engaged in environmental education. Utilizing these methods also account for the convictions and orientations of the researcher and teachers in the co construction of a rich description for environment ide ntity.

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27 Qualitative research involves the researcher taking an active role in the collection and interpretation of the meaning making of others. Measures should be taken to ensure goodness and trustworthiness. This means that the researcher should underst and their research as the participants do, and not under their own assumptions and narrow thinking (Stake, 1995). Data trustworthiness is assessed in this study by checking for representiveness, getting feedback from participants, and triangulating methods (Miles & Huberman, 1994). By triangulating methods, findings could be crosschecked for validity (Stake, 2005) while accounting for any commonalities and differences in the meanings teachers hold for their environment identity. Procedural o verview. Miles & Huberman (1994) provide the analytical framework used for this study in which data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing/verification are taking place concurrently and in a nonlinear way Figure 2 represents th e conceptual model for data anal ys is used by Miles & Huberman ( 1994, p.12). The following sections provide a more detailed description of each step of analysis used in this study. Figure 2 Miles &Huberman (1994) Conceptual Model for Data Analysis

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28 Step 1: Reduce the data. Data from each source were continuously simplified, abstracted, and transformed before, during, and after collection, while ensuring that it was not stripped from its context. Before data collection, research questions were refined, methods, populat ion and setting were selected, and ideas about environment identity were abstracted into a theoretical framework. During collect ion, textual and visual data were chunked, pulled out, and coded using open coding and line by line processes. After all data wa s collected, it was reduced, transformed, and synthesized into coherent case studies. Step 2: Display the data. All data was organized in a way that permitted clarity, accessibility, an d conclusion drawing. T ext was transformed into coded data and display ed in a series of matrices to represent any sequential or chronological patterns and to expose any emergent themes. The creation and use of displays was considered part of the analysis process, and continued to evolve throughout the study as new data was b eing collected. Step 3: Draw conclusions and verify. Conclusions were inductively drawn at every step of the data collection process. The meanings interpreted from any patterns revealed during the analysis process were used to make conclusions that were not finalized until the end of the data analysis process. Verification of any conclusions relied on continuously reviewing and comparing primary data as well as member checking information with participants before, during, and after data was collected. Using an interpretivist lens and Miles & Huberman's (1994) framework as an approach for qualitative data analysis allowed for the construction of thick, rich, descriptive case studies of each teacher.

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29 CHAPTER III LITERATURE REVIEW "Memory is the connections. Meaning comes from what something is connected to. Something unconnected, unassociated with, unrelated to anything is literally meaningless." (Kushner, quoted in Thomashow, Ecological Identity p.187) The ob jective of this literature review is to offer a synopsis of the most relevant research to explore environment identity within the context of environmental education. With roots in nature study, outdoor education, and conservation education, environmental e ducation has evolved over 40 years into a discourse that recognizes global and local relationships between people, society, and environments (Disinger, 2001; Stevenson et al., 2013). Ideally, teaching and learning in environmental education takes place in non formal and formal venues (Hart & Nolan, 1999), and involves interdisciplinary transactions of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that equip students to understand environmental and sustainability problems and actively participate in finding so lutions (UNESCO, 1997). Environmental education research covers a broad range of topics addressing historical, theoretical, cultural and practical dimensions as well as more targeted discussions on curriculum, instruction, and learning. However, as environ mental education inquiry advances and individuals become more removed from the natural environment and environmental impacts, the significance of expanding our understanding of how individual identities relate to the environment becomes a valid research en deavor.

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30 Currently, there are no existing studies that use the framework of environment identity in the context of teachers engaged in environmental education. This study seeks to address what Reid & Scott (2013) might refe r to as a "blind spot" (p. 521) in our knowledge. Specifically, I am interested in two characteristics that may be used to describe the development of teachers' e nvironment identity These include the formative experiences and mental models that teachers' attribute to their relationship with the environment. Exploring attributes of formative experiences and mental models might help to elucidate the different meanings teachers attach to themselves in relation to the environment, and how this environment identity translates into behaviors such as engaging in environmental education. Explorations into the significant life experiences and mental models of students and teachers have been identifie d in past research as factors that influence environmental understanding, beha viors, and action (Chawla, 1998 1999, 2007; Desjean Perrotta et al., 2008; She pardson et al, 2007; Tanner, 19 8 0 1998 ). While the direct connections between formative experiences, mental models, and identity development are u nknown, this study asserts that these areas provide useful pathways for further exploration s of identity, namely environment identity The following sections expand on the operational definitions in Chapter I and provide an overview of foundational environmental education literature rela ted to formative experiences and mental models.

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31 Significant Life E xperiences Si gnificant life experience research provides a useful avenue for inquiries into the formative experiences that shape environment identity. This research exists primarily in more descriptive and interpretive forms, but lacks any specific and consistent use of a theoretical framework (Liddicoat & Krasny, 2013). Literature in significant life experiences is positioned in the field of environmental education and has been described by Chawla (1999) as "the formative influences recalled by people whose lives demonstrate environmental conce rn" (p.15). The rationale behind most significant life experience research originates with Tanner's (1980) work to understand how people acquire the cognitive and affective dispositions that guide active and informed citizens committed to the goal of "main taining a varied, beautiful, and resource rich planet for future generations" (Tanner, 1980, p.20). Significant life experience research using qualitative methods of open ended survey, interview, life story, and autobiographical narrative has produced co herent results across a broad range of adult environmental professionals in conservation, activism and educ ation (Chawla, 2006). In her research on significant life experiences, Chawla identifies the types of experiences consistently shown to influence ho w one feels and acts toward the environment. Some of these experiences include: positive childhood experiences in nature, negative experiences witnessing the destruction of a valued place, environmental stewardship supported and modeled by family members a nd teachers, involvement in environmental organizations, exposure to social or environmental justice issues, vocations that deepen or inspire environmental commitment, and reading books or being exposed to other media with an environmental message (Chawla, 1999).

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32 While there are no studies that make explicit linkages between significant life experiences and enviro nment identity, this study attempt s to reconcile the two by exploring the formative experiences of teachers engaged in environmental education a nd how these experiences might shape the development of their environment identity. To contextualize the formative experiences acting as a contributing source for environment identity development, this study pulls from environmental education literature on si gnificant life experiences. Research on significant life experiences is well established in environmental education literature, and it is used here as one of many ways to approach development of an environment identity. Significant life experience res earch is rooted in the groundbreaking work of Tanner (1980 1998 ), Chawla (1998, 1999, 2001, 2006, 2007), and Palmer (1993) (Palmer et al., 1998, 1999), among others. Consequently, this study is informed primarily by research from these authors. In his f oundational efforts to illuminate the factors influencing environmental activists' choice of work, Thomas Tanner (1980) relied on autobiographical statements and resumes from his participants. According to Tanner, an environmental activist is defined as "o ne who engages directly in pro environmental political activism and/or provides it financial support, as through contributions to acti vist organizations" (Tanner, 19 8 0 p.400). All but one of the responses from forty five professionals representing citizen conservation groups such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society, and the Sierra Club revealed positive childhood experiences in natural habitats having a formative influence in the trajectory of their career. Other responses recognized the influence of parents, teachers, books, and exposure to environmental destruct ion.

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33 The premise of Tanner's significant life experience studies was to further understanding about the experiences that motivate environmentally responsible behaviors. If educators and possibly even parents, are aware of these factors, then they might be more inclined to nurture significant life experience op portunities for their students. In her st udies of significant life experiences Louise Chawla utilizes open ended interviews to extract the autobiographical memories that environmental activists' from different countries claim as having an influence on t heir commitment to environmental action. Similar to Tanner's 1980 study, environmental activists were viewed as those "citizens who have demonstrated amply their informed and responsible activism" (p. 20). In most of these studies, participants were asked to provide a description of where and how they grew up as well as the vocational and environmental activities they were involved in. More importantly, participants were invited to "tell the story" ( Chawla, 1999, p. 17) of what they believe to be the source s of their commitment to environmental protection and the personal experiences they believe to have inspired these pursuits. Primary findings from Chawla's significant life experience research expand on Tanner's conclusions by distinguishing significant li fe experiences at each developmental stage of life. For instance, childhood was considered a pivotal time for forming a foundational relationship with the environment. A majority of the experiences contributing to the development of this relationship took place in natural settings as a part of participants' everyday life. Other aspects Chawla found to have a positive impact on commitment to environmental action during one's life span included adult role models, witnessing habitat destruction, peers, educati on, friends, travel, organizations, books, and film.

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34 Interestingly, 14 of the 56 participants in Cha wla's 1999 significant life experience study on activists from Kentucky and Norway related environmental concerns to social concerns of equity and justice These individuals also held the understanding that environment and social problems are linked. At least 7 of the 14 participants relating environmental and social justice issues traced their concerns back to experiences in childhood. According to Chawla & Derr (2012 ), the value of studying the significant life experiences of different populations resides in an understanding that if current and future generations seek to achieve a sustainable world, then opportunities to experience and build relationships with different environments, especially the natural environment, will need to take place on a regular basis. As these experiences with the environment continue to take place, relationships develop, and personal meanings are realized. Studies in significa nt life experiences have been produced not only with environmentalists, but also with environmental educators. In her 1993 study, Joy Palmer attempts to bridge the gap between these two groups with an analysis of 232 autobiographical statements from enviro nmental educators belonging to the National Association of Environmental Education in the United Kingdom. Environmental educators were viewed as "citizens who have demonstrated their active environmental concern" (p.26) by helping children to learn about a nd care for the environment. This is achieved by facilitating different learning experiences designed to "produce active and informed minds" (p.27). Participants were asked to provide details of their demonstration of practical concern for the environment and the experiences they feel led to this concern.

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35 They were also asked to specify the most significant experience they feel contributed to their own development of a positive attitude toward the environment and at what time in their life this experience took place. Palmer's (1993) findings align with Tann er (1980) and Chawla (19 98, 1999) as environmental educators viewed their most formative experiences occurring in childhood and in the outdoors or under the influence of a family member. Additional follow up investigations provide a more fine grained analy sis of environmental educators' significant life experience patterns relative to different ag e groups (Palmer et al., 1998 ) and in differen t countries (Palmer et al., 1999 ). The results of these studies corroborate findings (e.g. formative outdoor/nature e xperiences, influential family member) from previous research. An important assumption utilized in this study is that environmental educators might not consider themselves to be environmental activists The multiple meanings and social stereotypes attache d to words like "activist" and "environment" produce inherent difficulties that make it challenging to isolate a particular identity. While they may not be environmental activists, teachers in this study are, by virtue of their pedagogical efforts, con side red knowledgeable and aware citizens who are motivated to actively engage in environmental decision making and problem solving. One way this engagement takes place is by equipping current and future generations with the cognitive and affective competencies needed to ensure the sustainability and well being of our planet.

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36 Mental M odels Similar to significant life experiences, mental model research provides a valuable path of inquiry to explore teachers' conceptualizations of the environment and how they contribute to the development of an environment identity. Mental models refer to the internalized representations of knowledge that individuals bring to a situation (Johnson Laird, 1983). These knowledge structures are the conceptualizations of one's personal reality of the world and how it works (Norman, 1983). They help to understand human reasoning and guide our positioning in ecological, social, and cul tural structures. Mental models can reflect pre existing, stable knowledge structures, as well as situation specific knowledge structures. For instance, an individual growing up in one type of environment (e.g. farm) for a long period of time may develop a particular way of thinking about their surroundings If, however, the same individual were to re locate to a completely different environment (e.g. city), then the exist ing, stable mental model would assimilate new information and adjust accordingly. In this way, mental models are formed from lived' experiences and are constantly being reconstructed as new understandings emerge and new meanings are realized (Johnson Laird, 1983; Nespor, 1987). While literature on mental models has its roots in cognitive psychology, the concepts have been applied in environmental education research to understand how teacher and student conceptualizations of the environment influence their perceptions, understandings, and behaviors in relation to the environment (Desjean P errotta et al., 2008; Moseley et al., 2010a, 2010b; Shepardson, 2005; Shepardson et al., 2007).

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37 If an individual's mental model of the environment is incomplete (i.e. does not include humans or interactions acknowledges only natura l environments), the im pact that person can have on the environment may not be fully realized because they are not seeing the self in relation to the total environment and its processes (Moseley et al., 2010b). This may have implications for environment identity as our perceptio ns dic tate the meanings we attach to having a relationship with the environment and our motivations for acting in alignment with these meanings (Stets & Biga, 2003). Consequently, there is a need for research that exists specific to identity and mental mod els of the environment within the context of environmental education. Unlike significant life experiences, mental model research encompasses both children and adult populations. To illuminate how mental models of the environment might be viewed as a contri buting source for environment identity development, this study is informed by environmental ed ucation literature focused on the mental models of students and pre service teachers. Specifically, t he remainder of this chapter highlights the prominent work of Desjean Perrotta et al. (2008), Moseley et al. (2010a, 2010b), and Shepardson et al. (2007). In their foundational research on mental models of the environment, Shepardson et al (2007) found a majority of students' to have unde rdeveloped conceptualizatio ns of the environment. In this particular study, a large, cross age and geographically diverse sample of students was given a two part task to draw and explain the environment, and to indicate and justify whether or not a series of images depicted the environment. Inductive methods of c ontent and statistica l analysis were used to construct a typology of four different types of mental models.

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38 The mental models that emerged varied by fun ction and the inclusion or exclusion of different abiotic and biotic elements. Findings revealed that a majority of students' mental models for the environment either placed humans as separate from the environment and its processes, or students viewed the environment as a resource for living things. These findings have been corroborated in other studies of children's conceptualizations of the environment (Judson, 2011; Loughland et al., 2002; Payne, 1998; Wals, 1992) and suggest an approach to environmental education that is interdisciplinary, where teachers are cognizant of the different perspectives and experiences of learners. It also suggests environmental education that supports a mental model of the environment that is more integrated and inclusive of different types of environments (e.g. built, natural, industrial). Mental model investigations similar to those of Shepardson et al. ( 2005, 2007) have occurred in other areas of environmen tal education research, particularly in teacher professional develop ment and preservice teacher education programming. For instance, Desjean Perrotta et al. (2008) and Moseley et al. (2010a, 2010b) found that preservice teachers' drawings and explanations for the environment were underdeveloped, and revealed anthropocentri c views holding humans as superior to the environment. I n their 2010 pilot study to examine the potential of the Draw An Environment Test (DAET) and the Draw An Environment Test Rubric (DAET R), Moseley et al. use a draw and explain method to elicit preser vice teachers' mental models of the environment.

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39 Information that teachers provide on the DAET is measured using the DAET R, which was developed using the North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) Guidelines for the preparation and p rofessional development of environmental educators (2010) definition of the environment. The guidelines specify that preservice teachers should be able to: describe the broad view that environmental education takes of environment', incorporating concepts such as systems, interdependence, and interactions among humans, other living organisms, the physical environment and the built or designed environment. (NAAEE, 2004, p.9) Under the premise that one should know what the environment is before bein g able to fully grasp environmental issues and behaviors, the DAET tool provides teachers with a personal understanding of the factors that shape their own beliefs and understandings of the environment. Findings from Moseley et al. (2010a, 2010b) suggest t hat preservice teachers do not consider humans to be an integral part of the environment. This is evidenced in sixty percent of the drawings from 118 respondents that did not include humans as part of their drawing of the environment From the same sample population, Desjean Perr otta et al. (2010) performed a separate analysis of preservice teachers drawings of the environment and the impac t of ethnici ty and setting Operating u nder the assumption that sociocultural factors shape our environmental understan dings, Desjean Perrotta et al. found these factors to have no significant influence on preservice teachers perceptions of the environment. This information supports the aim of this study to explore other factors that might influence how teachers perceive t hemselves in relation to the environment.

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40 CHAPTER IV FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION "By identifying the meanings that actors' attribute to their surroundings, by getting inside their head' and seeing the world from their perspective, we can understand why people do what they do." (Meltzer, Petras, & Reynolds, quoted in Burke & Stets, Id entity Theory p. 33) Identities provide meaning for individuals' lives (Burk e & Stets, 2009). A ccording to identity theory, an identi ty is comprised of a set of meanings and expectations that serve as a reference to guide how one perceives the self in d ifferent situations. But where do the meanings that define an identity come from? This chapter explores this question by looking at the formative experiences and mental models of teachers engaged in environmental education and what they attribute to the d evelopment of their environment identity, or how they view themselves in relation to the environment. Recall the research questions: 1. What formative experiences do teachers engaged in environmental education attribute to the development of their relationsh ip with the environment? a. How do these formative experiences shape teachers' environment identity? 2. What mental models do teachers engaged in environmental education attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment? a. How do these ment al models shape teachers' environment identity?

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41 In this chapter, the findings informing the research questions above are presented with a discussion The first section of this chapter present s an identity profile for each of the three participating teachers A second and third section of t his chapter presents findings of the formative experiences and mental models teachers' attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment A final section applies findings to the ident ity theory framework and presents a discussion of how formative experi ences and mental models shape teachers' environment identity. Identity Profiles The identity profiles presented in this section reflect information collected during the individual interviews where teachers were asked to provide a statement of what is included in their definition of "m e" and "not me". T eachers were also asked to perform a card sort to rank the identities they inhabit accord ing to perceived importance, amount of time spent, most pleasing to lea st pleasing, and ideal self. One purpose of providing identity profiles is to locate teachers' meanings and perceptions of self in relation to the different identities they acknowledge. Individuals assume multiple identities in a given setting (i.e. teacher and colleague). The identities that are of most importance to the person in a situation are those likely to be enacted. The profile s position each teacher within a spectrum of identities and counter identities or what they believe themselves to be or not be in different situations Burke & Stets (2009) refer to the relationship between identities and counter identities as one that is in a state of constant negotiation. In this case, teachers must make compromises with themselves and others on the meanings and expectations of their individual identities. The following identity profiles provide context for a presentation of findings on t he formative experiences and mental models of each

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42 teacher in addition to how these characteristics shape environment identity From this point forward, T eacher 1 is referr ed to as Doug. Teacher 2 is referred to as Molly, and Teacher 3 is referred to as Al len. Doug When asked to describe what is included in his definition of "me", Doug identifies his self in terms of where he is and what he is doing. I guess I have always felt that I have these two sides. One is very active mountain skiing, hiking, fly fishing. I always thought I would see myself living in a small mountain town and sort of being a ski bum. Maybe teaching. Maybe not. So I have that side of me, which comes from where I grew up, and growing up in the mountains. And then there is also the side of education and the urban experience of education, which is definitely a part of me as well (Interview, September 3, 2013). For Doug, the urban environment is where he works and spends a majority of his time, and the rural enviro nment is where he grew up and still tends to recreate in. This presents an interesting dualism between what one can and cannot do in different types of environments. It might also exemplify the standard he holds for himself in tho se different environments. Doug implies that being a teacher was optional if he lived in a mountain town. He associates his urban experiences with his role in education, but does not do the same when referring to the mountains. This seems to indicate that his role as a teacher does not necessarily align with his propensity toward a lifestyle in the mountains. In his description for what is included in his d efinition of "not me", Doug expresses adamant opposition to be ing complacent about life and his surroundings. He is always tryin g to learn, to be better, and to do better things. His biggest fear is to be a middle aged guy "with a belly, driving a minivan, punching the clock at some sort of meaningless job behind a desk all day long and in an unhappy marriage" (Individual interview September 3, 2013). This seems to indicate that Doug is driven by some sort of purpose or meaning

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43 that ultimately, defines who he is, who he strives to be, and the type of people he prefers to associate himse lf with. For instance, Doug goes on to express his dissatisfaction with those who are just "going through the motions" of life without regard for their surroundings or lifestyle choices such as the choi ce to eat healthy. For Doug complacency reflects some of the things he sees wrong with society, and he prefers to surround himself with others who feel the same way. This seems to speak to the standard of meaning he holds for others who are in a position to make the world a better place. As shown in Table 3, w hen asked to rank his perceived identity roles accordin g to various criteria, Doug revealed an emphasis on the identities related to his roles as a member of a family. Table 3. Doug's Identity Pile Sort Most Important Most Time Spent As Each Most to Least Pleasing Most Ideal World 1. Husband 1. Teacher 1. Husband 1. Husband 2. Father To Be 2. Husband 2. Athlete 2. Father To Be 3. Athlete 3. Athlete 3. Father To Be 3. Athlete 4. Brother 4. Father To Be 4. Brother 4. Brother 5. Son 5. Brother 5. Son 5. Son 6. Teacher 6. Son 6. Friend 6. Friend 7. Friend 7. Friend 7. Teacher 7. Teacher Note. Identities ranked numerically most to least Doug makes a distinction that being an athlete is a role he "wears", but being active is an important part of who he is and what he values to the extent that he is not happy with himself if he is not being active and staying healthy. When asked about his ranki ngs for the teacher identity, Doug aligns himself with his disdain for complacency and explains that teaching is "so damn hard", but at the end of the day he knows that he has challenged himself and made a larger contribution to society. This opinion could be

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44 attributed to the fact that Doug w as in his first year teaching at TGS, which also speaks to how certain transitions in life influence our identities. For Doug, teaching is one way for him to make the world a better place. From his experience s as a tea cher at TGS, Doug finds a shared meaning with other teachers who are driven by good intentions and a passion to always try to find a better way of educating. Interestingly, when asked if he would still be a teacher if h e could not teach EfS or some other f orm of environmental education Doug did not think he could continue to teach in the classroom because it would be "too discouraging". This statement reveals how much is at stake for teachers with a strong environment identity. It is may be of no coinciden ce that Doug received the highest score s of all teachers on Stets & Biga's (2003) environment identity measure form the online survey. Molly When asked to describe what is included in h er definition of "me", Molly organized her responses around things she likes to do, relationships, what she works for in her life, and adjectives that best describe her personality. She made a point that what people do does not necessarily define whom they are. I would say as a teac her I am an advocate for children. I am also an advocate for social justice in all aspects of my life. I am daughter, a cousin, a sister, a niece, and a girlfriend. I am female. I am a singer, musician, and dancer. I love to be outside. I am a hiker, a ski er, and a kayaker. I am positive, outgoing, like to be around people, type A, and light hearted. (Individual interview, August 30, 2013). In c l uded in her description of "not me", Molly explains the reason she is in the service profession is because she doesn't want to "just be" or "just be on the normal trajectory that people take". For Molly having a "normal" teaching job and continuing the status quo would not define who she is or ever wants to be. She thrives on the challenge of bettering the world a nd making her life more meaningful. These feelings are

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45 in alignment with Doug 's commitment to always do better in life as well as the feelings of resentment associated with being "normal" or being comfortable in a routine Also similar to Doug when aske d to rank her perceived identity roles for various criteria, Molly revealed an emphasis on identities associated with those people in her life that she is the closest to. The results from Molly's pile sort are shown below in Table 4. She goes on to explain the reason for this is because she would still have her family to fall back on if her life in Colorado completely went away. Both Doug and Molly's emphasis on fa mily related identities suggest that the people in their immediate surroundings are of particu lar importance for carrying out the multiple identities they take on in life. Table 4. Molly's Identity Pile Sort Most Important Most Time Spent As Each Most to Least Pleasing Most Ideal World 1. Family Member 1. Teacher 1. Girlfriend 1. Girlfriend 2. Girlfriend 2. Girlfriend 2. Family Member 2. Family Member 3. Friend 3. Planner 3. Friend 3. Friend 4. Teacher 4. Explorer 4. Planner 4. Explorer 5. Planner 5. Friend 5. Explorer 5. Teacher/ Social Justice Advocate 6. Explorer 6. Family Member 6. Teacher 6. Meaning Seeker 7. Meaning Seeker 7. Exerciser 7. Meaning Seeker 7. Planner 8. Musician 8. Musician 8. Musician 8. Musician 9. Exerciser 9. Meaning Seeker 9. Exerciser 9. Exerciser 10. Social Justice Advocate 10. Social Justice Advocate 10. Social Justice Advocate 10. Female 11. Female 11. Female 11. Female Note. Identities ranked numerically most to least

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46 For Molly being a meaning seeker means trying to find the meaning in her life and the things that she does rather than just lett ing it go by. Ideally, Molly considers herself a social justice advocate to the same degree that she is a teacher. The reason for this r anking is because she feels like social justice is personally important to her and is inherently a part of how she teaches the EfS curriculum used at TGS. This is confirmed in her response to what it means to for her to be a teacher at TGS: It means being in a place where we are pushing against the status quo and educating kids to be problem solvers for a better world and not just keep worsening our world or keeping it the way it is. There is sort of, not the expectation, but the encouragemen t to then also live that way myself (Individual interview, August 30, 2013). Interestingly, the time Molly spends as a social justice advocate is far less than her t ime spent as a teacher. Upon probing further into this discrepancy, Molly explained that she wanted to do more social justice advocacy outside of her role as a teacher, and that sometimes she wasn't able to because she didn't have the time. When asked whether she would continue being a teacher if she could not teach EfS or some other form of environmental education, Molly explained that she would still be a teacher because her priority is to educate kids to become good people. In her opinion, one can still be a good person with out knowing anything about EfS. Other than family related roles, th e meaning Molly attaches to her role as a teacher supersede other identities she claims. Allen When asked to describe what is included in hi s definition of "me", Allen pointed out that the boundary between the way he sees himself and everything else is less defined because he believes he is part of something bigger. He further explains this by making the distinction between this "universal self" and his "day to day self" as a dad, husband, teacher, a nd founder of TGS. For Allen the characteristics that define who he is

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47 are driven by common goals to "Take care of the Earth. Take care of people. Return the surplus." In his d efinition of "not me", Allen recognizes the reality of his life and his beliefs as someone who does not believe in war making, poll ution, or damaging the planet and each other. However, he also points out that although he has control over his own choices, he does not have control over what happens in the grand scheme of things. By saying this, one mi ght assume that, while Allen claims some defining character istics, he may not feel that he has complete ownership over how those are played out. When asked to rank his perceived identity roles for various criteria, Allen reveals similar responses to Doug and Molly by emphasizing th ose identities associated with his role as family member. The pile sorting results for Allen are shown in Table 5. Table 5. Allen's Identity Pile Sort Most Important Most Time Spent As Each Most to Least Pleasing Most Ideal World a 1. Husband 1. Educator 1. Father 2. Father 2. Husband/ Father/ Dad 2. Husband 3. Leader 3. Leader 3. Friend 4. Designer 4. Consumer 4. Designer/ Traveler 5. Educator 5. Designer 5. Educator/ Leader 6. Brother/ Son 6. Friend 6. Brother/ Son 7. Friend 7. Brother 7. Consumer 8. Traveler 8. Son 9. Consumer 9. Traveler Note. Identities ranked numerically most to least a Teacher 3 explains that, in his ideal world, ranking' anything does not exist. Therefore all of his identities are equal in an ideal world '.

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48 Allen explain s his reasoning for ranking husband and father in the top positions in at least three of the four categories. I spend a lot of time raising other people's kids and not necessarily enough time raising my own. I would like to play with my daughter more than d o just about anything. I think my relationship with my wife is the most important thing I can do for my daughter (Individual interview, September 3, 2013). Upon probing into his identity as a consumer, Allen relays that being a consumer doesn't necessarily define him personally, but more in the sense that his role as a consumer in the world creates ripples of influence for o thers. By saying this, he is positioning his i dentity as a consumer beyond the immediate surroundings and within th e worl d at large. For Allen, being a consumer is inevitable. It is also the least important role. Similar to teachers Doug and Molly, Allen identifies with living a life of intention. T his characteristic fuels his roles as a designer and educator as he tr ies to find ways to address needs and solve problems. As a designer of the governance model at TGS, Allen describes being influenced by an understanding of the variety of ways in which people interact. This came about through his experiences as a traveler observing how people interact. When asked whether he would still teach without EfS or some form of environmental education, Allen cites his reasoning for behind leaving a past career in engineering.

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49 Not surprisingly, his ideas about acting against the mainstream or status quo are similar across all three teachers. I left engineering for a reason. Because I am an educator. I think it is my responsibility as a teacher to bring more of the EfS mindset to a more conventional teaching role. Nobody else is going to do it in mainstream public education because it is not valued ( Individual interview, September, 3, 2013) Studies show that one's identity serves as an important motivator for behavior because individuals act in ways to verify the meanings they attach to their different identities (Burke & Reitzes, 1981; Stets & Biga, 2003). The i dentity profiles help to elucidate teachers' different identities Specifically, t eachers seem to share ideas about their (a) in tentionality for living a life of purpose and not complacency (b) refusal to be part of the status quo, and (c) importance of family. Perhaps Allen described teachers' intentionality best as taking care of the earth, taking care of people, and returning the surplus. All three teachers exp ressed their intentions for contributing to make the world a better place both in and out of the classroom environment. In a setting such as a school where individual identities are negotiating and compromising on a daily basis, it could be that intention is what motivates teaching. Furthermore, if teachers' intentions are aligned with certain behaviors and actions, then teaching environmental education and engaging in other environmentally friendly behaviors are ways that teachers live out their intentions Alon g with intention, teachers seemed adamant in their refusal to be part of the status quo'. This is a dominant theme in environmental education research as multiple authors have argued that societies require citizens who can independently analyze pr oblems, find collaborative solutions, and make pro environmental choices, even when

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50 doing so challenges social norms (Jensen & Schnack, 1997; Short, 2010; Stapp, Wals, & Stankorb, 1996) The idea that education should cultivate autonomous decision making a s well as collective problem solving is consistent with the foundations of environmental education (UNESCO, 1978). By choosing to be in a school that challenges the norms of traditional education with an innovative approach for environmental education, Dou g, Molly, and Allen are actively engaging their environment identities. Finally, the importance of family was a shared across the three teachers. For instance, teachers expressed concern for the futures of their children an d family members. Specifically of great concern was how to ensure a healthy environment that family members can thrive in. This seems to align with similar goals for environmental education. Formative Experiences In the findings for this section, a utobiographical narratives were used a s a primary source of data to inductively analyze the formative experiences teachers attribute to the development of their rel ationship with the environment and subsequently, how these experiences shape teachers' view of themselves in relation to the envi ronment Each teacher was asked to construct a n autobiographical narrative from the prompt: Contemplate and describe, in your own words, the parts of your life that have shaped (and/or continue to shape) how you know, relate to and interact with the environment. Additional depth for each case study was attained with supporting information from the individual interview and focus group. Th e analysis process outlined in C hapter II was used to develop categories and discover any emergent th emes acros s the three teachers Commonalities and differences across the teachers are also highlighted and discussed

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51 One of the strengths of significant life experience research is its use of a retrospective approach to understand formative experiences occurring over the span of a lifetime. Almost immediately in the coding process, it was apparent that teachers were arranging their formative experiences into different st ages of a life. The placement of formative experiences according to specific life stages was not asked for or alluded to in the autobiographical narrative prompt. Teachers' interpretations flowed organically into age categories, which were then interpreted as developmental stages of life. Chawla (1998) emphasizes that recognizing the developmental stages when formative experiences happen is an important consideration for future longitudinal studies across different and changing generations. Presenting the information in this way aligns with past significant life experience research (Chawla & Derr, 2012; James et al., 2010) that recognize developmental stages for how and when individual relationships with the environment are established. Under the guidance of Miles and Huberman (1994) and Yin (2003), the findings of the formative experiences of each teacher in this study are presented chronologically in a time ordered sequence based on developmental stages of life. These stages are (a) childhood and early ad olescence (b) late adolescence and early adulthood, and (c) early adulthood to present. Childhood and early adolescence occurs through the middle school years and is considered in significant life experience literature as the most formative time in a perso n's life for acquiring the types of dispositions that motivate environmental behaviors and action (Chawla, 1999; James et al., 2010). In addition to childhood, stages of adolescence and early adulthood have been found to be a time for formative experience s with the environment. These experiences

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52 occurring through the college years have been shown to manifest in environmental sensitivity, interest and concern (Peterson & Hungerford, 1981). Finally, experiences in adulthood occur at a time when participating teachers have completed their formal education and advanced into their present careers as teachers engaged in environmental education. Formative experiences that have shaped how teachers know, relate to, and interact with the environment have deep roots i n the past, while also being shaped by experiences in the present. It is at this stage of life when formative experiences begin to accumulate into an environment identity that "crystallizes in advanced education and skills, and affiliation with other commi tted environmental professionals." (Chawla & Derr, 2012, p. 535). Overall, t he parts of teachers' lives that shape and continue to shape how they know, relate to and interact with the environment varied for each teacher. For Doug a majority of formative experiences were described as happening during childhood and early adolescence. For Molly most formative experiences occurred during late adolescence an d early adulthood. For Allen formative experiences happened largely in adulthood. In order to reflect this continuum of formative experiences across the teachers, the findings for this section of C hapter IV were organized according to developmental life stages. Childhood and early a dolescence Doug Doug traces the development of his relationship with the environment back to childhood and the home where he was raised At this time, he was growing up on the family farm situated in the mountains of Colorado near a s o c io economically diverse municipality of l ess than 200 people. Spending childhood and early adolescenc e on a

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53 farm in rural Colorado provided the environmental and social landscape for a multitude of experiences that were formative for Doug 's development of a relationship with the environment I g rew up in an off the grid house, on five acres of land surrounded by National Forest. Our five acres allowed us to have goats, pigs, sheep, chicken, ducks, geese, and a large vegetable garden. (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013). Doug had the uni que experience of gro w ing up in a home that was energy independent and electricity was provided by the Sun and wind power The fi ve acres of land surrounding his home allowed Doug and his family to raise livestock and produce "backyard local" food. Additionally, h aving a designated wilderness area in close proximity to the farm provided access for long family hikes through the forest. M ore so than Molly or Allen Doug described being profoundly impacted by his direct interactions with the natural e nvironment at this particular stage of life These experiences took place as a normal function of everyday life and were consistent throughout his childhood. While Doug explicitly grounds his relationship to the environment in his childhood and the home where he was raised, Molly and Allen reveal less formative experiences happening in childhood and early adolescence This is evident n ot only in content of the autobiogra phical narrative, but also in the interviews and focus group as Molly and Allen made few er references to this stage of life. For instance, in the autobiographical narratives, Doug dedicates most of his narrative speaking to his childhood experiences

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54 Moll y manages to desc ribe this stage of her life in one paragraph, while Allen does so in one or two sentences. Noticeably, Doug's experiences at this stage had a high degree of impact for his developing a rela tionship with the environment. Molly Molly describe d her upbringing in childhood an d early adolescence as one that followed tradi tional upper middle class roles My dad spent long hours at the office while my mom stayed at home and raised my sister and me (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 201 3). It was at this time in her lif e when she first experienced living in the mountains of Colorado. In a town with a population of approximately 10,000, Molly was able to walk to school and play outside until it was dark. She remembers feeling more "con nected to the environment" while living in close proximity to natur al areas where she was able to hike, ski, and learn about area wildlife. After a few years in Colorado she moved away from the mountains to Connecticut with her family She elaborates on t his experience in her autobiographical narrative: I remember feeling like my world turned upside down when we moved from the open and vast mountains to the rolling hills of New England. A different kind of beauty. Tree lined streets that magically changed with each season (Autobiographical narrativ e, June 15 2013). From this experience, Molly attributed what seems like a major transition in her life to changes in physical landscape within natural and built environm ents ( e.g. suburbs) The beauty of the mountains was juxtaposed with rolling hills as she held on to a sense of wonder for new, yet familiar elements (e.g. trees) This internalized meaning for the natural environment would eventually expan d in later years as described later in this sec tion

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55 Allen W hile not explicitly formative, the experiences Allen describes as shaping how he knows, relates to, and interacts with the environment occur as a child growing up in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado I grew up on the leading edge of suburban sprawl. I could bike or walk 3 blocks north from my house and arrive at the end of civilization. There was almost nothing north of 120 th in those days. (Autobiographical narrative, June 15 2013). It is in childh ood and early adolescence that Allen recalls his interactions with the environment to include the ability to "go outside and play". By describing the presence of sprawl and the changes to a landscape remembered from childhood, Allen's s tatement is reminisc ent of the types of formative experiences that have been shown in the literature to occur as a result of destruction of familiar places However there is no strong indication from Allen that these changes are viewed as positive negative, or formative for that matter. One can only imagine what it would be like as a child to have access to "the end of civilization". Perhaps the experience of being near the built env ironment of suburban sprawl and the environment at the end of ci vilization explains how he placed himself in relation to different environments I n a mor e explicit reference, Allen e xpresses taking advantage of having a ccess to "the end of civilization": I took advantage of our location and spent lots of time playing in the canal and the wooded and brushy areas surrounding it (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013) For Allen being outdoors in the natural environment might be viewed as a positive emotional experience, but it is not clear whether or not this was form ative to his rela tionship with the environment at this time in his life.

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56 When comparing groups of environmental pro fessionals and those who had no interest in the outdoors or environmental activities, James et al. (2010) found that a majority of individuals in the envir onmental group recalled meaningful experiences as children pla ying in woodlands and waterways (interstitial areas) near the home. Most in the comparison group either did not remember having any significant experiences outdoors or had negative experiences outdoors. Interestingly, and quite different from the other teachers, Allen explains that during this time his connection to "nature or the environment" w as different from the way others describe". For instance, rather than a belief about the importance of somethi ng outside of himself, he believed the natural environment to be part of his temperament, where he felt (and still f eels) most at ease. This might suggest the presence of some kind of p ersonal meaning related to his environment identity. Beyond the autobiographical narratives, Molly and Allen do not emphasize experiences in childhood and early adolescence as being formative to the development of how they know, relate to, and interact with the environment. These experiences happened later in life and will be examined in more detail later in this section Late adolescence and e arly a dulthood. For at least 2 of the 3 participating teachers, a mixture of different experiences occurring in late adolescence and early adulthood were described as having an impact on the development of how they know, relate to and interact with the environment. These include travel, education, and career orientation Interestingly, Doug did not explicitly reference any formative experiences occurring during this stage of life. Hi s parents still reside on the farm, so it is possible that the experiences from his childho od continue to linger as formative' in his mind.

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57 Molly Findings from Molly showed a majority of formative experiences occurred during late adolescence and early childhood. It was at this time that she was in college and entering into a teaching career. I grew up thinking the environment was just nature. You know, like grass, or the air and trees. A big mental shift in my life was moving from this concept of the environment as nature' to a more holistic view that everything is the environment. (Focus group, September 5, 2013). For Molly the freedom that accompanied moving away for college "dras tically changed" her worldview. While a ttending a Jesuit college she began to pursue an interest in education and psychology. The college experience offered opportunities for experiential and service learning challenges that led to what Molly described as "intellectual and personal transformation in service ". This is consistent with past research providing evidence that, beyond childhood experiences of free play and exploration, the adolescent early adult years are a time when formal knowledge of the envir onment, skills and hobbies develo p, and individuals prepare for environmental vocations and volunteering (James et al., 2010). W hen asked about which experiences contributed the most to how she conceptua lized the environment, Molly attributed this to her experiences in college studying abroad in Ecuador. I was learning from books and lectures and suddenly I was learning from other people and experience. I connected with people. I went to tiny surfing towns, cloud forests, the rainforest, and high desert It was a crash course in environmental wonder (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013). The experiences of being in different environments promote d the sense of wonder Molly referred to in childhood Additionally, t raveling to Ecuador and experienci ng different cultures and environments facilitated the expansion of her view of the

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58 environment to include humans and human interactions. This evidence is verified i n the focus group and in Molly's autobiographical narrative. [S tudy abroad in Ecuador ] inspired more my lov e for the beauty of the natural environment, and made me more aware of the interactions between people in the natural environment. Seeing the rainforest and people's impact on the rainforest. Seeing others in the most biodiverse country in the world. Just seeing all of that. I have never experienced that before (Focus group, September 5, 2013). I was always eager travel and see whether other cities had a similar connection to the environment that San Francisco did (Autobiographical narr ative, June 15, 2013). For Molly being in the natural environment and observing how different people interact with their surrounding environment seemed to provide the most pleasurable experience By the end of college, Molly describes the influence o f a person she began dating who widened the periphery of what she knew about the environment and environmental issues. My senior year, I began dating a guy who was studying environment issues and he opened my eyes to the positive relationship one can (and should) have with nature. We moved to San Francisco after graduation and joined the AmeriCorps. This is where I began my outdoorsy' education (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013). The influence of a significant person prompted a formative experi ence for Molly Most research on significant life experiences attributes changes to an influential person in childhood and early adolescence. However, given this context, it seems equally feasible that this influence can occur at any stage of life. It was during her time in San Francisco when Molly recalls emotions of being "astounded" and "grounded" by the natural beauty of the area. This is reflected in new environmental and social behaviors. She joined a CSA, started to recycle and compost,

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59 hiked, sk ied, camped, and became a kayak guide. S he also experimented with Buddhist and Quaker religions, which recognize the human relationship with the environment as an important part of a bigger whole. In addition to her experiences traveling Molly began tea ching at a scho ol focused on outdoor and sustainability education It was during this experience that she remembers beginning to see the links between different environmental and social systems. In terms of identity development, it might have been a time f or verification of the meanings she was attaching to her environment identity. Making the social connections to environmental issues also tapped into her passions for s ocial justice, which were grounded in her experiences traveling around the country and t he world. I was hooked. It was the first time that I understood sustainability as a mindset and more than just saving the environment' (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013). For Molly the experience of having access to people and the surroun ding natural environment was profound. As a result, she made a promise to herself that she would always live where natural beauty inspired her. These formative experiences would later play a role in her adulthood as she explains in the next section. Allen S imilar to Molly, Allen also mentioned the impact of career choice and travel in the development of his relationship to the environment. For instance, working as an electrical and computer engineer exposed him to what he describes as a "naked reductionism" of compl ex earth systems and processes, to the detriment of accounting for individuality. One of the first things you are taught in engineering is that you have to make certain simplifying assumptions. This is unfortunate when you are dealing with people, because you have just discounted the vast majority of experience and potential (Individual interview, September 3, 2013).

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60 Allen's experience as an engineer seemed to carry over into later stages of adulthood as he became dissatisfied with the common application of linear thinking to solve complex problems. As a result, he began to educate himself to develop an understanding of system dynamics and systems thinking. This focus on systems would eventually have an impact on his relationship wit h the environment in the present day. Similar to Molly e xperiences with travel resulted in a broader view of the environment to include humans and human impacts. For instance, a fter working as a computer and electrical engineer in early adulthood, Allen j oined the Peace Corps in southern Africa. I used the Peace Corps to engineer my escape. I became a teacher and the pattern of preferring to be outside continued. This worked out well in southern Africa where sitting around outside with people is a major pa st time (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013) This formative experience not only verified Allen's penchant for being outdoors, but also nurtured a strong interest in and awareness of how different people live in their environments. In the individual interview, he describes these experiences interacting with different people and cultures through travel as being linked and integral to his worldview. When I travel to other places, I prefer to stay there for a while and make a connection to t he place. It is really about just expanding my sense of place, which includes people in those places. It is not just the land (Individual interview, September 3, 2013) Im portantly, Allen acknowledges that at this point in his life (late adolescence and early adulthood) he had not fully formed his concerns about the environment and how to face future problems in the environment. This would come later in his adulthood, and will be clarified in the next section.

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61 Early adulthood to p resent Doug Doug attributes his childhood growing up on a farm to the development of a deep connection to the planet and the environment At this stage in life, Doug spends much of his time actively pursuing experiences in the natural environment. I spend almost every spare moment in the mountains skiing, climbing, hiking, running, or fishing. I do this because being in the mountains is my time to be in the natural world (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013). Experiences outdoors in the natural environment conti n ue to be formative as Doug describes feeling s of being "humbled" by the environment whenever he experiences a pristine mountain lake, or goes on a hike to identify wildflowers or summit a peak. An alternative suggestion to these feeling s would be that he h as a fully formed relationship with the environment, and this relationship is continually verified in his experiences outdoors This manifests itself in personal behaviors such as installing sola r panels and limiting water use While experiences in the natural environment continue to influence Doug the urban environment is also recognized as an important setting for formative experiences. For instance, he describes one part of himself as having an affinity for the conveniences a nd diversity that the "urban experience" provides. I love experiencing the eth n i c diversity of an urban school. I love hearing the different languages and different accents. I love that in the city I have access to food that I wouldn't otherwise get in a small mountain town. I did not grow up with these things (Individual interview, September 3, 2013). For this teacher, being an educator in a diverse urban school is a formative experience that is defined by current and past exposure to urban and rural en vironments.

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62 Molly For Molly growing up and being ab le to see the juxtaposition of the built environment of the suburbs and the natu ral environment of the mountains accounts for how she defines herself in adulthood After finishing grad school, I was itching to embark on a new adventure so I chose to move to Denver, CO. I always knew I was more of a mountains girl than a beach girl. I was ready for something different. A more livable city with even easier access to outdoor activities and potential to c onnect to the environment (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013). Like Doug, Molly expresses a need for access to the natural environment. Accessibility is an important element that impacts her current ability to nurture the type of experiences that have been formative to her relationship wi th the environment in the past. This was also evident in the focus group discussion. I found it difficult to be in the natural environment when I lived on the east coast unless I put in a lot of effort. Being in Sa n Francisco there was more of that opportunity to go out in nature with less human impact (Focus group, September 5, 2013). Past experiences continue to shape the desire to connect not only with the natural environment, but also with people and the urban environment. T his was evident in her explanation about moving to and living in Denver (albeit to a smaller degree) Here in Denver, I do feel connected to the environment, but not as much as I had anticipated. It really is a city and you have to drive out to get into the mountains (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013). Molly recognizes her most formative experiences happening outdoors primarily in natural environments with less human impact. Although not as much in her experiences as a teac her, her relationship with the environment continues to be supported in her weekend explorations and adventures hiking around Colorado. Allen Adulthood proved to be the stage of life that Allen considers the most formative for the development of his relationship with the environment. This was a

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63 pivotal time for Allen as he began to apply his knowledge of systems thinking to disentangle and understand the underlying complex ity of large scale syst emic problems. After becoming a property owner, hus band and father, he began to integrate his understanding of the "big picture" and the importance of acting to ensure a durable future for the planet As the sustainability movement emerged in 2005 2006 he realized that others were experiencing a similar line of thinking, and the id ea for TGS originated. Allen describes his experience s with sustainability as a "refreshing change" from the discours e of the environmental movement, where the environment is viewed as something separate from humans. I think engaging in an argument like you have to be nice to the environment/no I don't as long as it's profitable really only serves to reinforce the idea that the environment is something out there, separate from us, that needs to be used or needs to be cleaned up (Autobiographical narrative, September 3, 2013). The statement above suggests that Allen currently views himself as a part of the environment, and not separate from it. This is further supported in the following excerpt: We have been raised to believe that God gave man dominion over the Earth. When I was younger, I didn't really understand what that means and it didn't seem worth figuring out. Now that I am older, I understand the environment as som ething much greater than me and something of which I am a part of, not as a collection of resources and ecosystem services available for my use or exploitation (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013) Emergent Theme s on Formative Experiences Parents and f amily. It should be mentioned that, in addition to formative experiences outdoors in the natural environment, teachers expressed being influ enced by their parents in childhood and early adolescent years. For example, while cumulative experiences in the surrounding natural environment and a childhood growing up in a

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64 lifestyle of subsistence seemed to be the most formative for him Doug's parents also played a large role in the development of his relationship with the environment. Doug vividly remember ed one of the most frequent things his father would say was, "who left the damn light on in the kitchen?" He recalls his "ornery" father's persistent, daily vigilance of energy use as a factor that shaped his current awareness of resource use. I grew up i n a very sustainable way without it being like this holier than Thou' thing. It is just because that is what my parents wanted to do (I ndividual in terview, September 3, 2013). Other than recycling and going on the occasio nal hike, Molly does not remembe r her parents putting much emphasis on "appreciation of the environment" during childhood and early adolescence. My dad was incredibly anal about organizing and sorting the recycling each week more of him feeling good about household chores rather than an y connection to protecting the environment (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013). This influence might not indicate a fo rmative experience for Molly but it alludes to the repetition of a mindset that may carry over in to later adulthood. Allen as cribes his propensity to play outside as a result of a "lightly supervised childhood". If given the choice, he always preferred to be outside rather than inside. This is indicative of an adult influence, although not necess arily the kinds of influence reve aled in the literature. Mental m odel s An additional theme emerging from the data include s the development of a mental model for the environment. This was consistent across all three teachers and was especially prevalent in the stage of life where the most formative experiences occurred For instance, Doug 's formative experiences in childhood seemed to

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65 indicat e a mental model of the environment that emphasized the natural, non human environment. Molly's formative experiences during early adulthood inv olved interacting with other cultures in diverse natural environments This seemed to indicate a slightly more inclusive mental model of the environment that emphasized both human and natural environments. Allen 's mental model of the environment was more c omplex during his formative experiences occurring in early adulthood. He emphasized more of a sys tems view of the environment by acknowledging the existence of different parts interacting to make a functioning whole. What is unknown is t he extent to which formative experiences might have contributed to the development of teachers' mental model for the environment Are these mental models static? Did they change over time? Are they a reflection of the current reality for teachers? How do formative experiences contribute to their presence, if at all? Is the mental model personally relevant for the teachers? Does it contribute to their environment identity? If so, how? Some of these questions will be explo red in more detail in the mental models sectio n of this chapter. Overall findings reveal differences and commonalities in the type and setting of experiences teachers considered as formative to the development of their relationship with the environment. The primary difference in formative experiences across teachers was the time of life in which the most formative experiences occurred. This could mean that environment identity development is a continuous, lifelong process where identities are constantly being reformulated or built based on one's surro undings and ex posure to different situations. Teachers' formative experiences also vary according to different circumstances where teachers' have interacted with components of both natural and

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66 human environments. C ommonalities across the three teachers in c lude the type s of experiences teachers considered as formative to the development of their relationship with the environment. These include e xtended periods of time spent outdoors in natural areas influential family members or significant others directing attention t o the value of the environment and traveling to different places and witnessing the interactions of people and their surroundings. To a lesser extent, education and career experiences were also considered formative to the development of teachers' relationship with the environment. Doug, Molly and Allen's experiences align with the literature on the signifi cant life experiences said to motivate the career choices, behavio rs and actions of a variety of environmental professionals By engaging in environmental education, teachers are exhibiting behavior s and action s similar to other environmental professionals This is a significant consideration for how formative experience s might shape teachers' environment identity. According to identity theory, behaviors reflect the meanings attached to an identity.

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67 Mental Models In the findings for teachers' mental models of the environment, the focus group was considered a primary sour ce of data. Each teacher was asked to draw a picture of the environment, and explain his or her drawing in a share discussion. This measure was borrowed from the second part of Shepardson et al.'s (2007) Environments Task. One of the strengths of using drawings to represent individual mental models is their ability to convey personal beliefs built on prior knowledge and past experiences (Desjean Perrotta et al., 2010; Johnson Laird, 1983). By capturing teachers' mental models of the environment, one can make reasonable inferences into indiv idual belief systems, which are developed over time from past experience and cultural influences ( Libarkin et al., 2003). A additional supporting piece of information that was useful for exploring teachers' mental model s of the environment came from an item in the online survey asking teachers for the first three words that come to mind when they think of the word environment. Overall, teachers' indicated a view of the self as a significant component of the environmenta l system. This system includes the interactions and processes that occur between human, non human living (biotic), abiotic, and built factors. All three teachers acknowledged that their mental models were influenced in some way by the formative experiences expressed in the autobiographical narratives. Table 6 displays findings for the mental models of the environment expressed by each teacher.

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68 Table 6. Summary of Teachers' Mental Models of the Environment Teacher Key Elements of Mental Model First Three Words to Describe Environment Doug Mountains Farms Rivers Smokestack emitting fumes Industrial building Sun People all over Sustainability Conservation Destroyed Molly Water Geography Mountains Flora/Plants/Trees Fauna/Animals Bear Rabbit Insect Atmosphere People Arrows for relationships and cycles Trees Conservation Protection Allen Sun Moon and Star Rain cloud Mountains Trees Corn plant An animal Human brain House with antennae Smokestack Industrial building Wavelengths People standing on car Person holding cell phone Earth Distress Hope For Doug, formative experiences growing up in the mountains on a rural farm contributed to the inclusion of mountains and a farm in his mental model of the environment. His experiences in urban areas and natural areas impacted by humans are also a part of the way he views the environment. For Molly, formative experiences interacting with people in different environments contributed to the inclusion of symbols to emphasize the interconnections between biotic and abiotic components in the environment. For All en, formative experiences learning and working from a systems perspective contributed to a mental model of the environment where different scales of interaction exist between abiotic and biotic components in the environment. To highlight the unique and sha red properties of individual mental models of the environment, the findings for this section of Chapter IV are organized by teacher.

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69 Doug Diversity exists with regard to how individuals conceptualize the environment. Differences between our points of reference within the environment has been linked to past and current experiences in our immediate surroundings (Rickinson, 2001). For Doug for mative experiences growing up on a farm in a rural area have had an impact on the mental model he uses to conceptualize the environment. Recall from earlier in this chapter that the formative experiences Doug attributed to the development of his relatio nship with the environment were primarily influenced by experiences in places where there was an abundance of non human biotic components. This resonates with his drawing and explanation of the environment provided in the focus group and shown in Figure 3 Figure 3 Doug's Drawing of the Environment

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70 In this drawing, Doug includes images of mountains, a river, a building with a smokestack, a farm, and humans. While he did not provide any concept ual labels or arrows, he explains in the focus group th at he would revise his drawing and include these objects to show the interconnections between each image. I started [the drawing] with the mountains because that, for me, is important. Then the rivers and farm and food, which the environment provides and the farm represents. Also the Sun which provided energy for our home (Focus group, September 5, 2013). For Doug formative experiences growing up in the natural environment seem to have influenced the development of his mental model of the environment in terms of landscape and how humans are situated within the environment. For instance, he explains that he used images of the mountains and farm because that is where he grew up. He also recognizes that people depend on the environment to provide for them i n different ways. This distinction is made when he describes people who spend time outdoors for peace and sanctuary and people who depend on the environment for basic human needs such as food, water and materials. In what he refers to as "sort of a dichoto my" with the environment, Doug explains that the environment "doesn't really care about us, but it provides everything for us". When asked why he included the building and smoke stack in his drawing, Doug explains that he used those particular images to r epresent "buildings and pollution". The emphasis on placing humans in different parts of the drawing suggests a view of the environment that is dominated by humans. Interestingly, Doug seems to view the environment as a system of interacting parts, the fun ction of those parts is in question. If

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71 humans are a vital part of the environment, then the function they serve in his mental model is not a positive one. He alludes to this in his autobiographical narrative. I realize that the places that have been minim ally impacted by humans are the way the planet used to be, the way the planet should be. It is because of the time I spend outdoors that it saddens me to see these places are changing; that these uninterrupted places are changing and disappearing because w e consume too much energy, water, manufactured food, and resources, all for cheap (Autobiographical narrative, June 15, 2013). It is apparent from his mental model and information provided in his autobiographical narrative and the focus group discussion that Doug includes in his belief system an emotional affinity for the natural world. For Kals et al. (1999), an emotional affinity toward nature is defined by having an interest in nature, a sense of love for nature, feelings of safety and oneness in natur e, and indignant feelings when it is not protected. Their research reveals a positive correlation between past experiences with family members in nature and a willingness to commit to behaviors on behalf of nature. Perhaps this is what motivates Doug to ta ke responsibility for the environment through his personal behaviors and possibly through teaching about social justice issues and EfS. Regardless, of most importance for Doug is his commitment to maintaining his connections to the outdoors and facilitatin g those types of experiences for his students. Molly Few studies have investigated the influence of different social and cultural factors on individual mental models of the environment. When asked for her drawing of the environment (seen in Figure 4 ) Molly presents images and labels of the atmosphere, people, fauna/animals, flora/plants, and geography/mountains. Arrows pointing in all directions and in a cycle are also present. Under the drawing, a label reads, "THE Environment".

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72 Figure 4 Moll y's Drawing of the Environment In her drawing of the environment, Molly hold s a mental model of the environment that emphasizes the interactions and interrelationships happening within the environment. Arro ws located between human, non living biotic, abiotic, and built components within the environmental system represent this. That is what my arrows are supposed to represent. I had water, geography, different landforms, flora and fauna, the atmosphere, and then of course, us. I consider the environment to be the interactions between all those different pieces (Focus group, September 5, 2013). When asked t o explain her drawing, Molly indicates her intentions were to represent the different parts of the environment that she thinks "interact". Upon hear ing th is in the focus group, Doug and Allen agree d that those arrows are an important piece that is missing in their own drawings of the environment.

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73 In his study on mental models, Norman (1983) asserts that when individuals interact with the environment, they form internal mental models of themselves and the things in which they are interacting. Furthermore, these models are useful for predicting and explaining the interaction. What is interesting to mention here is that Molly does not include any indication of deleterious interaction between humans and other parts of the environment in her drawing. It could be that by not including a symbol or representation of negative human impacts in her drawing, this alig ns with the way she describes her self in her identity profile as a positive person who always "sees the glass half full" and prefers to be around others that feel the same. This was not the case for Doug and Allen who included exhaust from cars and build ings with smokestacks in their drawings. When asked to explain why she did not include these components in her drawing, Molly explains that she probably should have, but she didn't feel like it would really represent how she conceptualizes the environment, which emphasizes the different ways that people interact with the different parts of the environment. It's hard because the environment has so many connotations. I think that it is the different ways that people mainly people interact with the rest of the parts of the environment, so it [the buildings] is kind of included anyway (Focus group, September 5, 2013). Without prompting, Molly refers back to her experiences growing up as having an influence on the way she views the environment. She clarifies a point during her early adulthood when she began to understand the more holistic concept that "everythi ng is the environment". Doug expressed a similar sentiment in the focus group. When asked what the environment was to him, he responded that it was "ev erything to him (Focus group).

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74 When asked whether she bel ieved that the environment was made up of different types or sub environments (e.g. human, non human biotic, abiotic, built ), Molly further explains that she believes there are natural parts that humans did not make, and our interaction with those natural elements created other parts, like buildings. These are man made things, which are still part of our environment, but they weren't here before us (Focus group, September 5, 2013). For Moll y "natural" refers to something that was not created by humans. Conversely, something un natural might refer to something created by humans using natural resources. It is because of our interaction with the natural resources in the environment that we hav e created other "parts" of the environment. One thing to note her e is how Molly uses the terminology of "our" environment. While there w as no follow up to this, perhaps this signals an internally held belief that the environment is owned or that humans hav e a shared responsibility for the environment. For Molly the environment includes di fferent systems of human, non human biotic abiotic and built components. However, it is the interactions between the different components of the environment, especially human interactions which represent how she conc eptualizes the environment. Recall the experiences she considers formative to the development of her relationship with the environment occurred primarily during late adolescence and early adulthood. These ex periences happened when she had access to traveling and seeing other people interact in different environments (e.g. Ecuador, rainforest). It is also at this time when she began to consider herself as the social justice advocate she is today. It is possibl e, then, that this period of time in her life was also a formative time for the development of her current mental model of the environment.

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75 Allen Mental models can be useful for understanding how individuals structure their own reality in order to make sense of the world around them. For Allen this reality includes a conce ptualization of t he environment (seen in Figure 5 ) that emphasizes what Moseley et al. (2010b) refer to as a "systemic approach". In other w ords, the mental model Allen holds for the environment is complex, varies in scale, and includes all human, non human biotic, abiotic, and built components. Figure 5 Allen's Drawing of the Environment When asked to draw a picture of what he thinks t he environment is, Allen in c l udes images of mountains, a tree, an animal, humans, humans with technology, an antennae on a house emitting wavelengths, a factory, a car with exhaust, a human brain, a raincloud, the moon, a star, and the Sun. No conceptual labels or arrows are shown in this drawing but Allen clarifies that as one thing he would have changed.

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76 For Allen the environment includes a complex network of human, non human biotic, abiotic, and built components. For instance, the images of the wavelengths emitted from the house and radio represent his idea that different parts of the environment can have "man made or natural origins". He also explains that these images a re a result of his past experiences as an engineer. In the same sense, the mountains are included because he grew up nea r the mountains. Alt hough the interactions taking place between these c omponents are inferred from w hat is in the drawing, Allen provides an explanation in the focus group discussion: That is supposed to be corn down at the bottom next to the tree, so sort of plants that occur as a result of human activity and plants that occur without human intervention (Focus group, September 5, 2013). From this statement it would seem that humans have a role in the environment that includes manipulation of certain part s of that environment ( e.g. the food system). Allen provides no additional examples to substantiate this, but he does provide some statements in his autobiographical narrative and individual interview that might furt her clarify how he defines the environme nt. For instance, in his autobiographical narrative, he defines the Earth as a "containing system not only fo r t h e economy, but also every other sub system that supports or inte racts with life here". He also adamantly disagrees with what he calls the "mode rn economic orthodoxy" that the Earth is nothing more than a collection of resources to be efficiently distributed. For Allen the environment is not something that is separate from humans or a place that needs to be "used or cleaned up".

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77 It is inherent l y the responsibility of humans ( because we are a part of the environment) to "Take care of the Earth. T ake care of people. Return the s urplus." (Individual interview, September 3, 2013). According to Allen humans play a role in the environment to the deg ree that there is no distinction between natural and not natural. There is this pervasive idea that somehow people are separate from nature and that everything of value is therefore not natural. I personally object to that characterization. I think it is very dangerous to position humans as not filling some niche in this world. If we did not fulfill a nich e, we would not be here. I thin k it is important to accept the fact that, because we do have a role on this Earth, we have the ability to do something po sitive (Focus group, September 5, 2013). The vital role that humans and human perceptions play in the environment is evident in the image of the brain us ed in the drawing. For Allen the brain represents the "mental environment" which acts as a filter to process our experiences. This is surpr isingly similar to the idea that mental models act as a filter for past experiences. When mental models are used to filter experiences in the environment, formati ve experiences eventually feedback into the men tal models and shape how the environment is understood and conceptualized. For some, formative experiences recognize humans or the self as part of the environment. For others, humans or the self may not be a part of the environment. Another possibility is the recognition that humans and the self are part of the environment, but the relationship exists at varying degrees of interdependence. In the focus group discussion, Allen proceeds to clarify his definition of the environment quite simply as "the setting in which we operate, which includes everything." He recognizes and explains that this concept is something that he has only be able to understand pre verbally for quite some time but has only recently been able to articulate it in conversation.

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78 Looking bac k to Allen's formative experiences, this seems to align with the evidence that early adulthood present adul thood is the stage of life when he had what he considered his most formative experiences contributing to the development of his relationship with the environment. Emergent Theme s for Mental Models The findings from this and past research reveal that a relationship exists between one's past experiences in the environment and the mental model s they apply to conc e p tualize the environment. For instance, teachers' formative experiences involved interactions with different human and natural elements of the environment. These interactions may have influenced the kind of mental model teachers currently hold for the environment. A question for fu ture research is how the developmental stages from teachers' formative experiences are related to the development of their mental model. Mental models are dynamic and continue to expand with new information and new experiences. For some, they can be inte rnally engrained in cognitive structures to the point where it is difficult to change or assimilate. For instance, Doug's most formative experiences for developing his relationship to the environment happened in a childhood where the immediate surroundings were a farm, forest, and mountains. The daily, repetitive contact with natural places forged a mental model of the environment that has developed over time to include the urban living experience. While we do not know for sure an argument could be m ade that Doug's mental model from childhood remains somewhat i n tact and lies at the core of his identity Molly's most formative experiences for developing her relationship to the environment happened in early adulthood. Activities such as h iking in Ecuador's rainforest and

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79 kayaking in San Francisco exposed Molly to diverse groups of people interacting in different natural environmen ts. This is apparent in her current mental model for the environment that emphasizes interactions showing interdependence between people and their environments. Again, while we do not know for sure, an argument could be made that Molly's mental model developed in early adulthood remains somewhat in tact and lies at the core of her identity. Allen 's most formative experiences for dev eloping his relationship to the environment occurred more recently in adulthood. Having a career in computer and electrical engineering provided Allen with an initial exposure to the complexities of systems and system dynamics. As he became a husband, father, and property owner, he began to apply personal meaning to his role as a functioning part of bigger systems. Humans have always had "niche" in environmental systems and processes. For Allen, there is no separation between him self and the environment. Shaping Environment Identity A guiding question for this study asks how formative experiences and mental models shape teachers' environment identity. This section will address this question with a proposal that teachers' formati ve experiences and mental models shape their environment i dentity by dictating the meanings they attach to themselves in relation to the environment Acco rding to i dentity theory, every kind of identity one claims has a particular set of meanings attache d to it. Recall that, in this study, meanings refer to "the characteristics or attributes that individuals see as representing who they are, how they feel, and what they value" (Stets & Biga, 2003, p. 403).

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80 In this case, the meanings that Doug, Molly and Allen attach to their environment identity are influenced by their formative experiences in the environment and their mental models of the environment. Consequently, t he se meanings are inter nalized an d reflec ted in how they view themselves as part of the environment. Shepardson et al. (2007) contend that in order for a person to understand their position on an environmental issue and the reasons underlying their environmental behavior, they must first have a n understanding of how they conceptualize the environment. Existing lit erature on mental models assert that individuals interpret past experiences through their belief systems, which are, in turn, reflected in their mental models (Nespor, 1987). With this knowledge, one could assume that a relationship exists between formative experiences and mental models such that formative experiences continually influence the development of mental models, and mental models continually influen ce the experiences considere d to be formative A hypothetical model to represent the relationship between teachers' formative experiences, mental models, and environment identity is shown in Figure 6 For Doug, Molly, and Allen, an accumulation of formative experiences outdoors in natural areas, with influential people directing attention to the value of the environment, and traveling to different places to witness human environment interactions contrib ute to their current mental models of the environment. These holistic mental models include both human and natural systems, processes and interactions.

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81 Alternatively, the mental models teachers hold for the environment mean that the experiences they con sider formative will most likely include time spent outdoors in natural areas, with influential people directing attention to the value of the environment, and traveling to different places to witness human environment interactions. Figure 6 Hypothetic al Model Relating Formative Experiences, Mental Models, and Environment Identity When this model is applied to findings from the formative experiences and mental models teachers attributed to the development of their relationship with the environment, mea nings attached to how teachers view the mselves in relation to the environment begin to emerge T he combined effect of the relationship between formative experiences and mental models on environment identity is apparent in the meanings teachers attach t o themselves in relation to the environment. Three of these meanings are shared across the teachers and include (a) being connected to the environment, (b) being aware of the one's role in the environment and environmental problems, and (c) being responsible for the environment Table 7 provides sample excerpts to support the shared meanings teachers' a ttach to themselves in relation to the environment. "#$%&'! "()#'!(*! #$+,-($.#$%! /$%#-&0%!%(! ,$12#$0#! "#&$,$34!&5&06#)!%(! %6#!7#'*!,$!-#'&8($!%(!%6#! #$+,-($.#$%! 9:$+,-($.#$%!/)#$8%;?#-,#$0#4!,$! #$+,-($.#$%!

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82 Table 7. Teacher Meanings for Environment Identity Teacher Meaning Excerpt AN (Autobiographical Narrative), FG (Focus Group), II (Individual Interview) Doug Connected "My time outdoors instills in me a deep appreciation for and desire to preserve our natural world." (AN) Aware "Bringing my own conceptualization of the environment into the classroom means that students will have more of an awareness and ability to observe and question. That is, for me, what has led me to my beliefs about things." (FG) Responsible "Because of m y childhood and my upbringing, I take simple, perhaps even trivial steps tilting at the windmills, if you will." (AN) Molly Connected "I want my children to grow up immersed in nature. I really need to be in a place with super easy access to the outdoors for me to truly enjoy it and connect with it often." (AN) Aware "When you leave school grounds it's a lot more about the awareness and appreciation piece because, I mean, if anything you can tell kids till you are blue in the face about something, but until they actually experience it, and are like, Wow, this forest i s really cool' or I do feel really good out here', it's going to mean a lot more to them." (II) Responsible "For me, being a teacher at TGS means educating kids to create a better world and to not just keep worsening our world or keeping it the way it is. I am expected to teach that future." (II) Allen Connected "Rather than a belief about the importance of something outside myself, it [the environment] seems to be part of my temperament, where I feel most at ease." (AN) Aware "I hope that by the time kids are in eighth grade, their scope of awareness, and the context in which they operate, is at least national and possibly international." (FG) Responsible "We should be paying at least as much attention to climate mitigation as we do teaching common core reading, writing, and math because, in the long view, which one is honestly more important? Which one is going to have a greater impact on the outcomes of t he human race? I would suggest climate change does, but at the same time, learning to read, write, and calculate so you can do things to mitigate climate change is really the goal here." (FG)

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83 First, being a part of the environment means feeling more c onnected to the environment. If given the choice, all three teachers preferred to be outdoors than indoors in order to feel connected to the environment. This was especially true for Doug a nd Molly who expressed strong emotional connections to the outdoors and the natural environment. Allen expressed a similar sentiment in his belief that being outdoors in the natural environment was part of his temperament, where he feels most at ease. Connecting with the environment via the outdoors holds personal meaning for all three teachers' environment identity. Second, being a part of the environment me ans having an awareness of one's role in the environment and environmental problems. For Doug, Molly and Allen, humans are a functioni ng part of the environmental system. Being aware of the role they play in the environment and their contributions t o environmental health reflects the personal meaning they attach to their environment identity. Finally, being part of the environment means being responsible for the env ironment. Teachers' formative experiences and mental models are reflected in their ideas about how humans should interact wit h their environment. For Doug, Molly and Allen, the environment is where humans live interdependently with their surroundings. In o rder for humans to survive, the environment must thrive. Therefore, it is the ir personal responsibility to not only take care of the environment but also to ensure environmental sustainability The f indings from this study highlight the connection that exists between the formative experiences and mental models teachers' attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment. While the formative experiences and mental models differ sli ghtly between each teacher, the similarities that exi st across teachers reveal shared meanings for how they view themselves in relation to the environment.

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84 According to Burke & Stets' (2009) identity theory, when we identify the meanings of an identity for an individual, we can predict the meanings of the person's behavior. The shared meanings for Doug, Molly, and Allen's environment identities should serve as a indicator for how they will behave as teachers e ngaged in environmental education. N ot being able to enact a core identity, such as an environment identity, can lead to feelings of inauthenticity, or lack of sense of self. For teachers engaged in environmental education, implications exist for how schoo ls and surrounding social, cultural, and political structures support the efforts of these teachers in a way that validates their environment identity Chapter V addresses implications of environment identity for different areas of environmental education including environmental teaching, environmental learning, and environmental research. Future directions for environment identity research are also suggested

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85 CHAPTER V IMPLICATIONS AND FUTURE D IRECTIONS FOR RESEARCH Of course, it is of no use to direct our steps to the woods if they do not carry us thither." (Thoreau quoted in Thomashow, Ecological Identity p.178 ) Implications Findings from this exploratory study of environment identity provide significant insight into characteristics that define an environment identity. Specifically, the formative experiences and mental models of teachers engaged in environmental education con tribute to the development of th eir environment identities through the shared meanings of being connected to, aware of, and responsible for the environment and its associated problems Ide ntity theory assumes that individuals are situated in social structures where behaviors are chosen, not according to personal preference, but because they reflect what is demanded by the different identities they occupy. If it is true that self reflects society, as identity theory suggests, t hen implications exist for the structures surrounding the devel opment of a person's environment identity. Specific t o environmental education, supports inside and outside the school community should be in place to enhance the development of both teacher and student environment identity. Additionally, environmental edu cation research should make a larger investment in exploring the environment identities of teachers and students and how the behaviors associated with environment identity might impact environmental quality and problem solving.

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86 Environmental teaching. The way we construct knowledge and understanding about the environment is based on our individual perspectives and the meaning we attach to our environment identity. If environment identity is considered a core identity, as identity theory suggests, then the implications for teachers' inability to apply these id entities in their roles as teachers might lead to decreased feelings of authenticity and self efficacy. Burke & Stets' (2009) identity theory aligns with the idea that when we behave in a way that i s consistent with the meanings and expectations we attach to an identity our self esteem rises. As a result, we maintain a sense of self and feel competent enough to handle difficult situations. Self efficacy is especially important for teachers with stro ng environment identities who are faced with the challenging task of implementing effective environmental edu cation in mainstream education. Difficulties abound for any teacher who feels obligated in their intentions to go against the norms of traditional education. I f structures are not in place to support the kind of formative experiences and mental models that shape the meanings teachers' attach to their environment identity, then teachers' begin to feel ineffective and risk losing a sense of self. Looking at the meanings the three teachers at TGS attach to their environment identity (connectedness, awareness, responsibility), one could reasonably assume that they are making efforts in their personal and professional lives to maintain their environme nt identity standards each day. Engaging in environmental education is one approach teachers use to verify their environment identities Consequently, implications exist if the efforts that validate teachers' environment identity are not sup ported in the s chool community.

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87 Teachers play a large role in shaping the cultu re of a school, and vice versa. School administrators should support their teachers to develop the kind of environment identities that strengthen a school culture grounded in environmental e ducation For instance, funding for and access to field experiences and outd oor learning environments could support teachers' connection to the environment. Professiona l d evelopment experiences that support of the meanings teachers hold for being aware of the environment and environmental problems could include self reflection exercises like autobiographical narratives and mental model drawings, or environmental science workshops that increase teachers' environmental literacy Additionally, a top down and b ottom up approach f or recognizing and awarding teachers who exhibit personal responsibility fo r the environment, such as riding their bike or car pooling would be supportive measures to verify teache rs' environment identity and it's corresponding behaviors. In essence, teachers engaged in environmental education need to feel and see that their efforts are making a difference not only in world but also in the lives of their students. It is for this reason that innovative school com munities like TGS maintain an atmosphere where environment identities are acknowledged and shared meanings are capitalized. When environment identity development is supported the collective impact on student learning and in the surrounding community is one that ensures a connected, aware, and responsible citizenry that has the knowledge and skills to effectively approach environmental problems Environmental learning. Our experiences and percepti ons shape the identities that we inhabit and acquire over time. This presents a challenge for understanding how

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88 diverse learners establish the competencies and capacity to act for a n environmentally healthy and resilient future. The implications of explori ng the formative experiences and mental models teachers attribute to the development of their environment identities include a better understanding of how to facilitate the kind of learning opportunities that will assist students to develop and realize their own environment identities. If the meanings teachers attribute to the development of their own environment identity include feeling connected, aware, and responsib le for the environment, then providing relevant and development ally appropriate experiences that allow students to make their own connections to the environment is a worthy endeavor. One way teachers can support students in their environment identity development is by guiding students in self reflection and self assessmen t strategies wh ere they can assimilate new knowledge in to their mental model of the environment. For instance, teachers can take their st udents to a public park where they could observe and collect data on how the park is used Measures and indicators can then be determined to see what variables and interrelationship are necessary to restore, regenereate or maintain the overall health of the park. This experience builds student s awareness of their surroundings and th eir own role in the environment. It can also be applied to navigating a tragedy of the commons scenario in which the degradation of a known resource occurs as a result of open and unmanaged access Knowing one's own environment identity is a valuable skill to have when faced with environmental p roblems and problem solving challenges that involve complex situations With practice and over time students develop the habit of asking themselves: Am I connected to my environment? Am I aware of what is happening in my environment? Am I being responsible for my environment? If so, how? If not, why not?

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89 As a result of this type of critical reflection students become empow ered because they are acutely cognizant of their own perceptions of self in the environment and the meanings they (and others) attach to their relationship with the environment. Environmental education research. The interdisciplinary nature of environmental education inherently fragments the literature that supports it. This presents a challenge for environmental education researchers to be clear in their intentions and to consider a plurality of epistemologies, o ntologies, and methodologies when exploring complex concepts such as environment identity (Dillon &Wals, 2006) For instance, in order to contextualize teachers' environment identity within the field of environmental education, this study pulls from literature that is specific to environmental education; however, the theoretical framework of identity theory is groun ded in the social and psychological sciences. Within the social and psychological domains of identity rese arch, different theories exist related to the development of identities For instance, social ident ity theorists emphasize the classification of an in dividual identity in terms of social groupings. Conversely, identity theorists in psychology focus on the internal processes and role expectations in individual identity development. For the purposes of this study, Burke & Stets (2009) identity theory was used because it evolved from and merged both social and psychological identity theories. What remains unknown at this point is exactly how ideologies of education, environmental education, a nd even science education fit within identity theory and how envi ronmental education researchers can best clari fy their positioning amongst a "plurality" of different approaches.

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90 Future Directions for Research The findings from this study clearly indicate a need to better our understanding of factors related to how individuals develop an environment identity. For instance, formative experiences and mental models contribute to the development of an environment ide ntity, but it remains unknow n to what degree these factors influence the longitudinal impact of environment identity development over time. Other studies exploring formative experiences and mental models express similar directions for future research. For instance, i n their studies o f mental models, Shepardson et al. (2007) and Moseley et al. (2010b) highlight the need to determine the impact of life experiences on conceptualizations of the environment as well as the influence of social and cultural factors on the development of menta l models. Chawla & Derr (2012) also recognize the importance of utilizing comparison groups in future studies of significant life experiences. This study of the environment identity of teachers engaged in environmental education would benefit from a compar ison group of teachers within TGS and with teachers in other schools. Finally, the findings from this study have implications for continued research on the relationship between environment identity development and environmental literacy development. One purpose of environmental education is to ensure that individuals have the knowledge and skills needed to protect and improve the environment for all living things. An overarching goal for environmental education is to promote an active and environmenta lly literate citizenry, which according to Charles Roth (1992) includes "the capacity to perceive and interpret the relative health of environmental systems and take appropriate action to maintain, restore, or improve the health of those systems" (p.10).

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91 In his research to operationalize environmental literacy, Roth presents environmental literacy as developing along a continuum of competencies of understanding, skills and action. In general, people tend to progress in the development of their environment al literacy in stages that Roth identifies as awareness, concern, understanding and action. For instance, if a person exhibits nominal environmental literacy, then they have a very rudimentary understanding of how natural systems work, and are only beginni ng to show an awareness and sensitivity toward the environment. If a person exhibits functional environmental literacy, then they have a broader knowledge of human and natural systems and the interactions occurring between those systems. They also display a heightened sense of awareness for negative interactions in environmental systems and are motivated to work toward their remediation. Operational environmental literacy means that individuals possess the knowledge and skills to understand environmental pr oblems and navigate environmental issues. Their habits of mind include feeling a personal investment and responsibility to prevent environmental degradation and enhance hu man well being at personal and collective levels and at local and global scales. In terestingly, the characteristics that define the developmental stages of an environmentally literate person (awareness, concern, understanding, action) align in some ways with the development of meanings for teachers' environment identity (connectedness, a wareness, responsibility). Further research is warranted to explore if a connection exists between environment identity and environmental literacy, how these interacting knowledge structures might represent concepts stored in memory, and how environment id entity and literacy are enacted in behaviors and actions.

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92 Conclusion Teachers engaged in environmental education at TGS tend to have strong environment identities that have developed from formative experiences in the environment, and include a mental mod el of the environment where human and natural systems interact and function interdependent ly. The formative experiences and mental models teachers attribute to the development of their relationship with the environment shape their environment identities th rough the meanings they attach to themselves in relation to the environment For the three participating teachers in this study, being part of the environment means being (a) connected to the environment, (b) aware of one's role in the environment and environmental problems, and (c) responsible for taking care of the environment for future generations. Teachers engaged in environmental education exhibit behaviors that reflect their environment identities. Thi s includes actively choosing to teach environmental education that aligns with the meanings they attach to their environment identity. If teachers' environmental behaviors are not supported, then their environment identity is not supported. Supporting teac hers' environment identity has implications not only for school communities practicing environmental eduation, but also for developing the kind of environment identities in students that might ensure an environmentally healthy and resilient future

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100 Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative re search: Grounded theory procedures and techniques Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Stryker, S. (1980). Symbolic Interactionism: A Social Structural View Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings. Tanner, T. (1980). Significant life experiences: a new research area in env ironmental education. Journal of Environmental Education, 11 (4), 20 24. Tanner, T. (1998). Choosing the right subjects in significant life experiences research. Environmental Education Research. 4 (4), 399 417. The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Educati on. (2012). Education for Sustainability EfS Indicators and Performance Standards Retrieved October 5, 2013 from http://cloudinstitute.org. Thomashow, M. (1996). Ecological Identity: Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. U.S. C ensus Bureau (2010). American fact finder. Retrieved September 21, 2013 from http://factfinder2.census.gov. U.S. Department of Education. (2013). Fact Sheet. United States Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/programs/green ribbon schools/index.html UNESCO. (1978). Final Report: Intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education, Tbilisi, October 14 26, 1977. Paris: UNESCO. UNESCO. (1 997). Educating for a sustainable future: A transdisciplinary vision for concerted action. Paris: UNESCO (Document EPD 97/CONF.401/CLD.1.). (Retrieved February 7, 2013 from

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101 http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/mods/theme_a/popups/mod01t05s01.html ). Wals, A. (1992). Young adolescents' perceptions of environmental issues: Implications for environmental education in urban settings Australian Journal of Environmental Educ ation, 8, 45 58. Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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102 APPENDICES

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103 APPENDIX A. EfS MISSION AND STANDARDS

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104 APPENDIX B ENVIRONMENTS TASK PART I Environments Task, Shepardson et al. (2007). Online survey June 1 June 15, 2013 Part I: Participants in the online survey are shown seven images depicting human and natural environments. Prompt: Does this image depict an environment? Please justify your answer. 1. 2 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

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105 APPENDIX C. ENVIRONMENT IDENTITY BIPOLAR SCAL E Environment Identity Bi Polar Scale, Stets, J. E. & Biga, C. F. (2003) Online Survey June 1 June 15, 2013 Participants in the online survey were given eleven bipolar statements ranging from environmentally friendly to environmentally unfriendly views. Using a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 reflecting agreement with one statement and 5 reflecting agreement with the opposite statement, and 3 is halfway between the two statements. NOTE: "natural environment" is used in the original measure, but has been modified for teachers' open interpretation of "environment". Prompt: How do you view yourself in relation to the environment? Where would you place yourself between each of the statements? 1. in competition with the environment 1 2 3 4 5 in cooperation with the environment 2. detached from the e nvironment 1 2 3 4 5 connected to the environment 3. very concerned about the environment 1 2 3 4 5 indifferent about the environment 4. very protective of the env ironment 1 2 3 4 5 not at all protective of the environment 5. superior to the e nvironment 1 2 3 4 5 inferior to the environment 6. very passionate toward the environment 1 2 3 4 5 not at all passionate toward the envi ronment 7. not respectful to the environment 1 2 3 4 5 very respectful of the environment 8. independent from the environment 1 2 3 4 5 dependent on the environment 9. an advocate of the e nvironment 1 2 3 4 5 disinte rested in the environment 10. wanting to preserve the environment 1 2 3 4 5 wanting to utilize the environment 11. nostalgic thinking about the environment 1 2 3 4 5 emotionless thinki ng about the environment

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106 APPENDIX D. ENVIRONMENT IDENTITY BIPOLAR SCALE RESULTS All teachers (N=16) 100% hold more environmentall y friendly views Average score = 4 Max score = 5, on item 8 only Min score = 4, on all other items 3 out of 16 teachers (19%) total score = 3 10 out of 16 teachers (62%) total score = 4 3 out of 16 teachers (19%) total score = 5 Teacher Item 1 Item 2 Item 3 Item 4 Item 5 Item 6 Item 7 Item 8 Item 9 Item 10 Item 11 1 3 4 5 4 5 5 5 5 5 4 5 2 3 4 4 4 3 4 4 5 4 5 5 3 4 4 4 4 3 4 4 5 5 5 5 Participating Teachers (n = 3) Item Environmentally unfriendly Neutral Environmentally friendly % Environmentally friendly 1 0 2 1 33 2 0 0 3 100 3 0 0 3 100 4 0 0 3 100 5 0 2 1 33 6 0 0 3 100 7 0 0 3 100 8 0 0 3 100 9 0 0 3 100 10 0 0 3 100 11 0 0 3 100 All Teachers (N=16) Item Environmentally unfriendly Neutral Environmentally friendly % Environmentally friendly 1 1 7 8 50 2 0 0 16 100 3 1 2 13 81 4 0 3 13 81 5 0 10 6 37 6 0 4 12 75 7 1 0 15 93 8 0 1 15 93 9 0 3 13 81 10 0 3 13 81 11 0 3 13 81 Note. Compared to all teachers, participating teachers scored 0.27 higher overall on the Environmentally friendly side of the scale. Participating teachers (n=3) 100% hold more environmentally friendly views Average score = 4 Max score= 5, on items 8, 9, 10, 11 Min score = 3, on item 1 only 1 out of 3 teachers total score =5 2 out of 3 teachers total score = 4 The total score for Teacher 1 was higher (5) than Teachers 2 and 3 (4) Scores between teachers deviated on 7 out of 11 items (in bold)

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107 APPENDIX E. ENVIRONMENT S TASK, PART I RESULTS Online Survey Response Summary Environments Task, Part I June 1 15, 2013 All teachers (N=16) Case study teachers 1, 2, and 3 are highlighted and in bold Prompt: Does this image depict the environment? Image 1 desert Yes= 16, No=0 Yes, Blue sky, nature 1 Natural environments include all living (e.g. cactus) and non living things (e.g. rocks). [not environment] This shows a desert environment An environment can be a physical space. I see this as a desert environment It is part of the natural world. It is part of our surroundings. this is a commons Yes, It is AN environment... 2 it shows the outdoors It is a picture of a desert, which is part of our natural environment. it is something which I interact, has components that come from the earth that we use natural resources, It is a desert ecosystem. The image is taken outdoors. There are many natural things are part of the environment. Yes, it depicts an environment, not the environment 3 Not the environment I would automatically think of, but it is an important ecosystem. It reminds me of Utah and trips to the deserts and reminds me of drought and dwindling water resources Image 2 city skyline with park in background Yes=15, No=1 Yes, Human environment, snow capped peaks 1 It depicts both a natural environment (living and non living things) as well as a built environment (buildings). On my first response I would say "no" simply in the fact that I don't associate a city with an environment, whereas I do think it is environmentally related An environment can be a physical space This would be an urban env ironment It is part of our world. this is a commons as well Yes, The environment includes cities. 2 city environment It is a cityscape, but it is still part of the environment. refer to previous justification... additionally, people made resources are depicted It is an urban environment, which supports people, plants, and animals. The park and mountains are part of the environment. The city interacts with the environment, but is not part of the natural environment. Yes, it depicts an environment, no t the environment 3 Again, important part of an ecosystem. I think of golf, which I love to play. And I think of CO, which is an environmentally friendly place.

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108 Image 3 grizzly and cub walking across river Yes= 16, No=0 Yes, Nature 1 The image depicts the bears' environment and shows how the organisms exist in their environment. animals are part of our environment An environment can be a physical space I see a forest environment in the background Animals make up a part of our environment. we are responsible for the health of this environment too Yes, We share our environment with animals. 2 outdoors It is again part of the natural environment. refer to previous justifications, minus people made resources It is an ecosystem, which supports plants, and animals. The animals are living in their natural environment Yes, it depicts an environment, not the environment 3 Again, part of an ecosystem. I think of Alaska and grizzlies and of the rivers and the wild. All of which are key components of the environment. Image 4 wooded stream Yes= 16, No=0 Yes, Nature 1 It shows a freshwater environment water sources are part of our environment An environment can be a physical space. This is only my favorite environment in the whole world. Water and plants definitely make up our environment. commons...yet again Yes, Natural settings are part of our environment. 2 outdoors, wildlife It reminds me of mountain springs in Oregon. refer to previous justifications It is an ecosystem, which supports plants, and animals. This is a wooded environment with a stream. The are part of nature. Yes, Same 3 When I think of the most when I think of "the environment" Rivers, water, flowers, nature, beauty, all of which epitomize the natural world and the environment.

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109 Image 5 farm with fields Yes= 16, No=0 Yes, Humans using the environment to grow food. 1 It depicts both a natural and built environment. Our farmlands are a type of environment An environment is a physical space. This would be a rural environment Fields and man made structures make up our environment. commons Yes, Agriculture affects our environment in many ways. 2 rural environment It is a picture of a farm. The land has been altered by people, but it is still part of the environment. refer to previous responses It is an ecosystem, which supports plants, and animals. I think this is part of the environment, but it is different from the previous pictures because the fields are man made. Yes, it depicts an environment, not the environment 3 Farms. Food. Fuel. Resources. This photo depicts all of the above and the lack of farms reminds me of dwindling resources in the US and the world. Yes, all of that impacts the environment. Image 6 industrial area with field in foreground Yes= 14, No=2 Yes, Human interactions with the environment can be, and often times are, harmful. But this is still the environment nonetheless. 1 Environments can also pose risks to organisms. Toxic waste or air pollution, for example, can be detrimental. there are beautiful fields right next to the gross industrial plant. Every part of this is part of our environment An environment is a physical space. This would be an unpleasant polluted environment Our physical surroundin gs are always part of our environment. responsibility to be sustainable Yes, Though I have negative thoughts about this picture because the factory is probably polluting the environment. 2 industrial environment Still part of the environment. The land (and air) has been altered but it is still part of the environment. components of previous response...do I want to sustain a factory that utilizes natural resources to produce various forms of energy/resources while generating waste, no. But it is someth ing that interacts with me and the natural resources around it, therefore, I consider it a part of our environmental system. It is a production plant within an ecosystem, which supports plants, and animals. [not environment] The factory interacts with the environment, but it is not natural. Yes, it depicts an environment, not the environment 3 [not environment] destruction of

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110 Image 7 deciduous forest Yes= 16, No=0 Yes, More nature. No sign of human interactions. 1 An environment is a complex collection of conditions that impact an organism and its survival. This depicts a forest environment. Yes, changing of seasons and the forest are parts of the environment An environment is a physical space. A peaceful environment because it's my favorite time of year Trees. Yes, part of the environment. commons Yes, Nature 2 outdoors It is a forest still part of the environment. refer to previous justifications It is an ecosystem, which supports plants, and animals. It is natural. Yes, it depicts an environment, not the environment 3 most comfortable to me. Walden Pond perhaps. If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound? Yes, forests are an essential part of the environment.

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111 APPENDIX F. AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NARRATIVE PROMPT What's your story? This is a written autobiographical narrative. Please find an adequate period of time and a space conducive to reflection on the following prompt. There is no right or wrong answer. Please return to Hillary.Mason@ucdenver.edu Allow your thoughts to go back in time and return to the present day. Contemplate and describe, in your own words, the parts of your life that have shaped (and/or continue to shape) how you know, relate to and inter act with, the environment.

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112 APPENDIX G INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW GUIDE Objective: to gain an understanding of participant's sense of self in terms of identities (McLain, 2012) Goal: to establish and verify the self meanings for an environment identity in the context of different roles (i.e. teacher) The following exercise is intended to nurture self reflection and gain a better understanding of you and the different "hats" you wear in your life. Identity Card Sort 1. Think about what best describes who you are. What is included in your definition of "me?" 2. What is included in your definition of "not me?" 3. Think about the various identities or roles you take on in your life. List and number each on an index card. a. Please rank your identities in terms of: i. Y our perceived importance for each ii. Amount of time spent in each iii. Most pleasing to least pleasing to inhabit. Why did you rank this way? iv. Your ideal self your most desired rank order in an ideal world. Why did you rank this way? 4. What does it mean to you to be a t eacher at T GS? What do you feel is expected of you in this role? 5. What elements or characteristics, if any, do you bri ng to the role of a teacher at T GS that are perhaps different from the traditional or societally expected role? In other words, what do you bring to the role because you are you ?

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113 APPENDIX H FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE Objective: Administer part 2 of Shepardson et al (2007) Environments Task. Use group reflection and discussion to review responses. Goals: to measure teachers mental models of the environment to member check for narratives "The following exercise is intended to gain a better understanding of how you conceptu alize what the environment is as well as the processes and phenomena that interact to shape and characterize the environment." "Using a sheet of poster paper, draw a picture of what you think the environment is (what it looks like). Label the parts of y our drawing if necessary ." Group discussion 1. Describe and explain your drawing. 2. What does your drawing represent? 3. What does the term "environment" mean to you? 4. What does the term "environmen t" mean to you as a teacher at T GS? 5. Is there anything else you would include in the drawing? 6. Is there anything you did not include in your drawing? Why did you not include this/these things? "Please review your autobiographical narratives." 7. Do the experiences you mentioned in your narratives contribute to your drawing ? If so, how? If not, why? (This question establishes that the experiences are truly formative' to how participants see themselves in relation to the environment.) 8. Do the experiences from your narratives contribute to how you feel or act toward the environment ? If so, how? If not, why? (These questions are added to gain insight into research questions 1 and 2. If the environment is perceived as a part of the self, as an en vironment identity suggests, then the self meanings for the environment identity may be seen as characteristics that individuals see as representing who they are, how they feel, and what they value.)