Amanda Ripa

Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Extended Teacher Education Program

First Advisor

Flynn Ross


ETEP, curriculum, project based, teacher research, proficiency based, action research


This action research study investigates the use of the nature journal with middle school students for three purposes: strengthen descriptive writing, engage observation and thinking, and bridge nature journaling and student’s connection to the natural world. This study describes an interdisciplinary unit in science and language arts focused on the study of seasons, climate, and weather. Nature journals were used as a scientific tool by students to collect data and make observations of nature related to course content. Action research data was collected from a subset of students using the student's nature journals, direct observations, pre and post intervention surveys, and interviews to triangulate data and increase validity. Critical findings indicated that: nature journaling as a literacy strategy helped students practice and improve their descriptive writing using science content; using journals as a tool in collecting scientific data supported students in achieving learning goals in science, and through nature journaling students made a genuine connection with our outdoor place and the living things they had discovered there over repeated visits. In an era where children are spending more time in front of a screen than in the outdoors, this action research presents a creative tool and evidence based support for educators to provide meaningful outdoor experiences for students connected to educational standards.


Additional keywords: nature journaling, environmental education, place based education, middle school science