Volume 19 Number 8 April 22, 2018

The Engagement Tree: Arts-based Pedagogies for Environmental Learning

Susan Davis
School of Education and the Arts, Central Queensland University, Australia

Citation: Davis, S. (2018). The engagement tree: Arts-based pedagogies for environmental learning. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 19(8). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.18113/P8ijea1908


This case study reports on an arts-based project called “Tree-Mappa,” one that sought to engage primary-school children in learning about their local environment through significant trees. Pedagogical approaches featured the use of arts-based strategies as the means for activating cognitive and affective responses and learning. The frame for analysis was that of student engagement and learning, recognising that for students to be mobilised to care about and act for the environment requires both knowledge but also emotional commitment and the means for expression and communication. Findings drawn from student reflective responses and focus group interviews identified various triggers for student engagement. These included excursions and outdoor activities framed by arts-based processes. The study signals the value of ongoing research and practice to verify the potential of different arts-based strategies for engagement, commitment, and meaningful learning about the environment.

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