Sample Literature Review On Teaching Sustainable Science

Type of paper: Literature Review

Topic: Students, Education, Science, Teaching, Sustainability, Environmental Justice, Environment, Water

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/18

Teaching Sustainable Sciences to Elementary Students: Strategies of Approaches

Davis and Smithey (2008) conducted research about effective strategies in teaching Science to elementary student. Davis and Smithey’s longitudinal research spanned 10 years during which the researchers studied patterns, strategies, and iterations of Science teaching methods for elementary students. Based on the outcomes of research, Science teaching for elementary students must be inquiry-based and collaborative between the teacher and the learners. In teaching science concepts including sustainability, teachers should interact with students by providing them opportunities to formulate and communicate their own ideas. In a lesson about sustainability, for instance, teachers may make lessons collaborative by asking the students about their views and opinions on solutions to sustainability issues.
Davis and Smithey (2008) also emphasized the use of instructional materials in the classroom, which is important in teaching science concepts. Davis and Smithey argued that without applying inquiry-based approaches in teaching, using instructional materials, and facilitating collaboration in the classroom, teaching science would be unsuccessful. Aside from these strategies, Davis and Smithey also argued that effective teaching depends on the education and training of pre-service teachers. Pre-service teachers must be trained to develop strategies and techniques in inquiry, in collaborating with the students in the classroom, and in creating appropriate materials to teach science and sustainability.
Schneider and Krajcik (2005) also emphasized the importance of using appropriate materials when teaching science in the classroom. In a research study, Schneider and Krajcik sought to assess factors that affect education reform in science. To collect data, the researchers observed the enactments of teachers teaching science in middle schools. Outcomes of the research show that utilizing instructional materials is highly important in engaging the students and helping them understand concepts in science, particularly those that are difficult to understand. Furthermore, Schneider and Krajcik asserted that lesson planning is also important in teaching science. Details in lesson plans supports and guides the teacher, which helps them in enactment.

Sustainable Sciences and their Effect on Elementary Students

One of the vital effects or impact of sustainable sciences on elementary students is the development of decision-making skills. According to Arvai, Campbell, Baird, and Rivers (2010), one of the goals of sustainable sciences is to introduce the students to various environmental issues. Arvai, Campbell, Baird, and Rivers (2010) argued that science education curricula often aim to provide students with “up-to-date information about a myriad of environmental issues from a variety of scientific disciplines” (p. 33). Consequently, the students would be informed about environmental issues, including the factors that contribute to these phenomena, the role of human beings and communities in the state or nature of the environment, the role of the students, and the solutions to environmental problems that affect the human population. During the course of sustainable science lessons, students are expected to analyze the foregoing issues and in the process learn how to make appropriate or sound decisions that take into consideration the impact of human activities on the environment.
Aside from developing decision-making skills among learners, science education also helps the students solve problems. In science education, “students learn how to analyze sustainability, work with decision makers, and put classroom knowledge into practice” (Steinemann, 2003, p. 216). Science education not only informs students about environmental issues but also provides them with hands-on experiences that help them understand and tackle sustainability issues. In the process, the students learn to solve problems, particularly when the learning environment allows them to collaborate with teachers in finding solutions to sustainability problems.

Recycling and Elementary Education

Teaching recycling in the classroom is a means of changing and influencing habits among the learners. Recycling is not merely a concept that addresses sustainability issues or problems in the community. Recycling is a solution, which is why its inclusion in elementary education allows students to gain hands-on experiences that would contribute to the resolution of environmental problems. In the process, the students learn more about environmental problems and get to determine how their actions and behavior could help solve these problems. Teaching recycling is meant to change the attitudes of students so they can apply this practice in the community (Lukman, Lozano, Vamberger, & Krajnc, 2013).
As formerly noted, recycling is a hands-on experience. One way for teachers to teach recycling is to integrate outdoor activities that provide opportunities for students to recycle objects on their own. Projects and outdoor activities could include the collection of recycled materials in the community and the use of these materials to build or create things that would benefit the students and other people in the community. Facilitating these activities, however, should be done right. Carrier, Tugurian, and Thomson (2013) conducted research and discovered that teachers find it difficult to incorporate outdoor activities in their lessons due to various factors. Some teachers lack time while others lack adequate resources to initiate outdoor activities. Hence, Carrier, Tugurian and Thomson argued that integrating outdoor activities to teach science concepts such as recycling must be carefully planned and based on the availability of time and resources. Without doing so, outdoor activities will be ineffective in teaching students important hands-on concepts in science.

The Hydrosphere and Elementary Education

Teaching the hydrosphere in elementary education is essential in teaching sustainability. Wing et al. (2013) studied teaching sustainable water to elementary students. In the study, Wing et al. assessed modules and learning materials about water and sustainability. Based on the outcomes of research, Wing et al. discovered the shortcomings of teachers and schools in teaching STEM subjects that include science. Wing et al. stressed that sustainable education is highly important in equipping students, particularly the young ones, with knowledge and skills in dealing with environmental issues, particularly climate change. Furthermore, Wing et al. discussed the importance of developing activities for students to exercise or apply their knowledge and creativity by discussing water sustainability by themselves and offering solutions to save water. The research study also stresses the importance of teacher feedback in encouraging students to continue learning and exploring environmental issues. Most importantly, teacher feedback must focus on encouraging students to think of solutions or other measures to prevent further decline of water resources and the quality of bodies of water on earth. Teaching should help students understand the value of water to human survival.
Siry and Lara (2011) conducted research about pre-service teaching in elementary, particularly in teaching the hydrosphere or water forms. Results of the research suggest the importance of co-teaching in the classroom as a means to improve the learning environment for all students. Based on the findings of the study, teaching science concepts such as hydrosphere is not the main issue. Regardless of the topic, whether it is about water forms or the water cycle, as observed in the study, the more important concern is the strategy and the techniques that teachers employ to teach the students in the classroom. It is highly important that teachers mentor pre-service teachers through co-teaching and allow the latter to familiarize themselves with approaches and techniques that effective teach science concepts such as the hydrosphere. Furthermore, Siry and Lara stressed the importance of integrating science as a culture in the classroom such that the students learn about the importance of science and familiar with science concepts in making decisions and understanding how the world works in real life.

Energy and Elementary Education

One of the main concepts that students learn from the classroom when the lesson is about energy is resiliency. The concept of resiliency is highly important in putting forth the point of sustainability. According to Lane, et al. (2013), effective teaching in energy education must be geared towards informing students about sustainability to develop resiliency against the outcome or impact of environmental issues. Hence, teaching must therefore provide students with knowledge about energy efficiency and how they can adopt energy efficient practices in real life.
Energy education is relevant in teaching sustainability science because it introduces the students with ideas about the conservation of energy and the reduction of carbon footprint or emissions to prevent the exacerbation of environmental issues. Hence, teaching must be inquiry-based and exploratory such that teachers introduce energy concepts to learners and allow them to explore scientific possibilities not only to conserve energy and reduce consumption, but also to find alternative sources of energy. For this reason, Seraphin, et al. (235) teaching energy education must engender inquiry among the students.


Arvai, J. L., Campbell, V. E. A., Baird, A. & Rivers, L. (2010). Teaching students to make better decisions about the environment: Lessons from the decision sciences. The Journal of Environmental Education, 36(1), pp. 33-44.
Carrier, S. J., Tugurian, L. P. & Thomson, M. M. (2013). Elementary science indoors and out: Teachers, time, and testing. Research in Science Education, 43(5), pp. 2059-2083.
Lane, J. F., Baker, A., Franzen, R. L., Kerlin, S. & Schuller, S. (2013). Designing resilient energy education programs for a sustainable future. Journal of Sustainability Education, 8.
Lukman, R., Lozano, R., Vamberger, T. & Krajnc, M. (2013). Addressing the attitudinal gap towards improving the environment: a case study from a primary school in Slovenia. Journal of Cleaner Production, 48, pp. 93-100.
Schneider, R. M. & Krajcik, J. (2005). Enacting reform-based science materials: The range of teacher enactments in reform classrooms. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(3), pp. 283-312.
Seraphin, K. D., Philippoff, J., Parisky, A., Degnan, K. & Warren, D. P. (2013). Teaching energy science as inquiry: Reflections on professional development as a tool to build inquiry teaching skills for middle and high school teachers. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 22(3), pp. 235-251.
Siry, C. & Lara, J. (2011). ‘I didn’t know water could be so messy’: coteaching in elementary teacher education and the production of identity for a new teacher of science. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 7(1), pp. 1-30.
Smithey, J. & Davis, E. A. (2009). Beginning teachers moving toward effective elementary Science teaching. Wiley InterScience. doi: 10.1002/sce.20311
Steinemann, A. (2003). Implementing sustainable development through problem-based learning: pedagogy and practice. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, 129(4), pp. 216-224.
Wing, A. D., Hibbard, C., Strong, J., Drewes, J. E., & Munakata-Marr, J. (2013). Sustainable water: Development, delivery and assessment of K-5 modules. 120th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition.

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