School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Jillian L. Wendt


meaningful watershed educational experiences (MWEE), environmental education (EE), Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), environmental literacy, academic achievement, nature-based learning (NBL), project-based learning (PBL), MANOVA


Education | Environmental Sciences


Meaningful watershed educational experiences (MWEE) are student-centered, problem solving-oriented environmental educational experiences in which students investigate local environmental issues leading to civic engagement and informed action. The four components of an MWEE include issue definition, outdoor field experience, synthesis and conclusion, and action projects. While multiple benefits have been shown to be gained through participation in environmental education, this study’s aim was to observe the impact MWEEs have on academic achievement in middle school students. This quantitative, ex post facto, causal-comparative study examined the impact MWEEs had on students’ achievement scores, as measured by Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) scores. The study compared the ELA, math, and science achievement scores of a sample of eighth grade students in Pennsylvania (N = 1067) and examined the impact of exposure to MWEE (n = 233) compared to students who have not been exposed to MWEE (n = 834). A MANOVA was used to analyze data. There was a statistically significant difference between students’ PSSA scores based upon students’ MWEE participation status. The findings of this study may aid educators in determining whether to address the environmental literacy expectations mandated in both national and state legislation and standards through the incorporation of the MWEE into their school’s curriculum. Recommendations for future research include using a method for determining the instructional methods and curriculum of MWEE implementation, exploring educator and student demographics, prior experiences, and attitudes and expanding the sampling population beyond the ELIT.