Environmental education in the Maldives: The implementation of inquiry-based learning at the primary level
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Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/1471
The Maldives islands are predominantly coastal entities, and our environment is among the most vulnerable in the world. For this reason the government of Maldives remains strongly committed to advancing Environmental Education (EE). This study reports on the implementation of inquiry-based approaches in the teaching and learning of Environmental Studies (ES) at primary schools in the Maldives. It also explores what teachers and students in primary ES classrooms do and whether this is what the ES curriculum recommends they should. A review of literature indicates that a pronounced discrepancy exists between the problem solving and action-oriented goals associated with the contemporary philosophy of EE and the education that takes place in schools in many countries. While much of previous research has revealed the benefits of using inquiry-based instructional strategies over traditional methods. From the literature, key indicators of inquiry based instruction emerged which served as a conceptual framework for this study. A case study approach utilising a qualitative method was chosen for this study which enabled me to gather detailed information from teachers as well as students from three different schools, by adopting semi-structured interviews, and observations as the main data gathering tools. The results of this study suggest that teachers use a variety of strategies in teaching ES at the primary level. However due to a number of reasons teachers are not able to implement the syllabus quite as the curriculum developers intended. Interviews and classroom observations revealed that education about the environment was the prevailing approach that teachers practiced in the primary schools in Maldives, which is a teaching procedure concerned mainly with the transmission of knowledge. Even though the findings of this research are specific to this particular research context, it allowed me to draw useful recommendations in this research for other primary schools in the Maldives. The recommendations from this study suggests that the government should allocate sufficient resources to support the practice of inquiry-based learning. This study also recommends that training teachers, especially through modelling of inquiry instruction, is vital for effective implementation of inquiry based-learning for a positive influence on students’ learning and teachers’ pedagogy. To expand our understanding of inquiry-based practices in the primary schools in the Maldives further research should be conducted utilizing both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies which would involve schools from all the 20 atolls of Maldives.