Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Grisham-Brown


The Field Trip Study was conducted in direct response to the emergence of scientific thinking as it relates to children’s cognitive abilities. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects of nature-based, experiential activities on children’s acquisition of science knowledge. A multiple treatments and controls with pretest research design was utilized to compare science knowledge acquisition between kindergarten children in four instructional conditions: 1) nature-based field trip plus extension activities from an environmental education curriculum, and corresponding book reading and activities, 2) nature-based field trips plus extension activities from an environmental education curriculum, 3) nature-based field trips plus corresponding book reading and book-related activities, and 4) nature-based field trip with business as usual instruction. Study teachers implemented activities from the Growing Up WILD curriculum and National Science Teacher Association children’s books. An age-appropriate science assessment and accompanying scoring rubric were created in correspondence with Next Generation Science Standards and piloted prior to use as the pretest and posttest for kindergarten children enrolled in the study. Children were interviewed in small groups to elaborate on assessment responses. Kindergarten teachers’ perceptions of using environmental education curricula as a part of field trip extension activities were assessed during a group interview. Gender, treatment condition, and pretest scores were predictors of children’s posttest scores. Children in condition 1 scored significantly higher on posttest mean scores than children in other groups. Teachers enjoyed using the environmental education curriculum and believed it made teaching NGSS accessible.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)