Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015NJ363B

Knowledge and action on nonpoint pollution: a professional development program for educators

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $10,068 Total Non-Federal Funds: $26,873

Principal Investigators: Roberta Hunter

Abstract: Certain water resource issues lend themselves to public engagement by being accessible in both evidence and in action to remediate. Nonpoint source pollution is one such issue. While the actual physical and chemical parameters of the water quality may not be visible to most, the impacts of impaired water quality often are excessive algal growth, high temperatures, and sedimentation can all be observed by the public, and can be addressed through both individual and collective public action. In addition, nonpoint source pollution is a near-universal issue for both urban and rural communities. The proposed research will pilot and examine the efficacy of a problem-based learning professional development program for formal and informal educators. Of key interest is the development of certain environmental literacy competencies: identifying and investigating issues; using physical, ecological, and sociopolitical information to develop possible solutions; and articulating views about warranted individual and collective actions (Hollweg, Taylor, Bybee, Marconkowski, McBeth, & Zoido, 2011). The coastal lakes of Monmouth County will serve as a context of study for the professional development program, as they are critically impacted by nonpoint pollution. Both quantitative and qualitative methods will be used to evaluate the program, which will be expanded in coming years to include classroom observations to determine the impacts on educator practice with youth.