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Science education in the Boy Scouts of America

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Rachel Sterneman Hintz
Abstract:
This study of science education in the Boy Scouts of America focused on males with Boy Scout experience. The mixed-methods study topics included: merit badge standards compared with National Science Education Standards, Scout responses to open-ended survey questions, the learning styles of Scouts, a quantitative assessment of science content knowledge acquisition using the Geology merit badge, and a qualitative analysis of interview responses of Scouts, Scout leaders, and scientists who were Scouts. The merit badge requirements of the 121 current merit badges were mapped onto the National Science Education Standards: 103 badges (85.12%) had at least one requirement meeting the National Science Education Standards. In 2007, Scouts earned 1,628,500 merit badges with at least one science requirement, including 72,279 Environmental Science merit badges. "Camping" was the "favorite thing about Scouts" for 54.4% of the boys who completed the survey. When combined with other outdoor activities, what 72.5% of the boys liked best about Boy Scouts involved outdoor activity. The learning styles of Scouts tend to include tactile and/or visual elements. Scouts were more global and integrated than analytical in their thinking patterns; they also had a significant intake element in their learning style. Earning a Geology merit badge at any location resulted in a significant gain of content knowledge; the combined treatment groups for all location types had a 9.13% gain in content knowledge. The amount of content knowledge acquired through the merit badge program varied with location; boys earning the Geology merit badge at summer camp or working as a troop with a merit badge counselor tended to acquire more geology content knowledge than boys earning the merit badge at a one-day event. Boys retained the content knowledge learned while earning the merit badge. Scientists, Scout leaders, and Scouts felt that Scouts learned science through participation in the Boy Scout program, both in the merit badge program and also through activities, trips, outdoors, in meetings, and through rank advancement. On an open-ended questionnaire, 75.2% of Scouts reported that doing merit badges helped them do better in school. Scout leaders indicated that the overall Scouting environment introduced boys to science. Scout scientists credited Boy Scouts with providing experiences that interested and/or helped them in their scientific careers.

TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................................ ii DEDICATION……………………………………………………………………………iv

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................................................................................ v

VITA ................................................................................................................................. vii

LIST OF TABLES .......................................................................................................... xvii

LIST OF FIGURES ....................................................................................................... xviii CHAPTERS:

1. INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................... 1

Scout Oath ................................................................................................... 1

Scout Law ................................................................................................... 1

Outdoor Code .............................................................................................. 1

1.1 Background of the Problem ............................................................................. 2

1.2 Statement of the Problem ................................................................................. 4

1.3 Purpose of the Study ........................................................................................ 4

1.4 Theoretical Framework .................................................................................... 5

1.5 Research Questions .......................................................................................... 8

1.6 Importance of the Study ................................................................................... 9

1.7 Definition of Terms........................................................................................ 11

1.8 Limitations ..................................................................................................... 18

1.9 Delimitations .................................................................................................. 19

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2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ............................................................................. 21

2.1 Boy Scouts ..................................................................................................... 21

2.1.1 Boy Scout History ....................................................................................... 21

Origins....................................................................................................... 21

Service....................................................................................................... 22

2.1.2 Boy Scout Organization ............................................................................... 22

2.1.3 Boy Scouts and Science Education ............................................................. 23

Scouts in Science ...................................................................................... 24

Scout Science Activities ........................................................................... 25

Participation .............................................................................................. 26

2.1.4 Boy Scout Leadership ................................................................................. 27

Scouts ........................................................................................................ 27

Scoutmasters and Adult Leaders ............................................................... 28

Mentors or Counselors .............................................................................. 30

2.2 Educational Theory ........................................................................................ 32

2.2.1 Scoutmaster Beliefs .................................................................................... 32

Children learn through experiences - Experiential learning and Prior Knowledge ................................................................................................ 33

Science participation will help in school .................................................. 36

Children learn naturally when they are outdoors ...................................... 42

Children learn through hands on activities ............................................... 49

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Children Learn Incidentally ...................................................................... 53

2.2.2 Characteristics ............................................................................................. 55

Biology ...................................................................................................... 55

Behavior .................................................................................................... 58

2.2.3 Teaching and Learning Strategies ............................................................... 62

National Science Education Standards ..................................................... 62

Science in Scouting vs. Science in Traditional Schools ........................... 64

Scouting Curriculum ................................................................................. 66

Strategies used in Scouting ....................................................................... 70

2.3 Summary ........................................................................................................ 85

3. RESEARCH METHODS ............................................................................................ 86

3.1 Overall Approach to the Study ...................................................................... 86

3.2 Theory ............................................................................................................. 87

3.3 Sampling ........................................................................................................ 89

Settings ...................................................................................................... 89

Enrollment and Ethnicity .......................................................................... 90

Sampling Information ............................................................................... 93

3.4 The Researcher's Role .................................................................................... 94

3.5 Data Sources ................................................................................................... 95

3.5.1 Participants .................................................................................................. 97

Interviewees .............................................................................................. 97

xii

Geology Merit Badge Participants .......................................................... 109

Learning Styles Participants ................................................................... 109

3.5.2 Merit Badge Pamphlets ............................................................................. 110

3.6 Data Collection ............................................................................................ 110

Locations ................................................................................................. 112

Interview and Written Methods .............................................................. 136

3.7 Data Analysis and Verification .................................................................... 136

Qualitative ............................................................................................... 136

Quantitative ............................................................................................. 137

3.8 Ethical Considerations ................................................................................. 137

3.9 Assumptions and Limitations of the Study .................................................. 138

3.10 Summary .................................................................................................... 141

4. RESEARCH FINDINGS ........................................................................................... 142

4.1 National Science Education Standards ........................................................ 142

4.2 Open Ended Survey Questions .................................................................... 149

4.2.1 Self-reporting ............................................................................................ 149

4.2.2. Survey Questions ..................................................................................... 149

Merit Badges Survey Question ............................................................... 150

Favorite Thing in Scouting ..................................................................... 157

4.3 Learning Style Research .............................................................................. 170

4.4 Interview Data .............................................................................................. 174

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4.4.1 Science ...................................................................................................... 174

Definition of Science .............................................................................. 174

What Scientists Do .................................................................................. 179

Comparison of Merit Badge Work and Work of Scientists .................... 182

Science in the Boy Scouts ....................................................................... 186

Merit Badges and Activity ...................................................................... 187

Boy Scout Science May Be Taught Subtly ............................................. 189

Camping .................................................................................................. 190

Experiences ............................................................................................. 194

Merit Badge Work Different From Schoolwork ..................................... 197

Merit Badges Help in School .................................................................. 198

Experiences Help in School .................................................................... 202

Boy Scout Participation Helps with Grades In School ........................... 203

Career Information Provided .................................................................. 204

Importance of Merit Badge Experiences ................................................ 205

4.4.2 Methods Used in Boy Scouts .................................................................... 210

Scout leadership ...................................................................................... 210

Single-sex Education .............................................................................. 216

Learning styles ........................................................................................ 219

Self-Efficacy ........................................................................................... 230

Fun .......................................................................................................... 235

xiv

4.3.3 Locations used in Boy Scouts ................................................................... 241

4.5 Merit Badge Science Content Acquisition ................................................... 244

4.5.1 Control ...................................................................................................... 244

4.5.2 Treatment Groups .................................................................................... 246

4.5.3 Longitudinal Group ................................................................................... 246

4.5.4 Location Comparisons .............................................................................. 249

5. CONCLUSIONS........................................................................................................ 255

5.1 Summary ...................................................................................................... 255

5.1.1 National Science Education Standards ..................................................... 255

5.1.2 Aspects of Boy Scouts Impacting Science Learning and Interest ............ 256

5.1.3 The Impacts of Participation in Boy Scout Science.................................. 258

5.1.4 Learning Style Preferences of Scouts ....................................................... 259

5.1.5 Content Knowledge and Merit Badge Participation ................................. 261

5.2 Conclusions .................................................................................................. 262

5.3 Discussion .................................................................................................... 264

5.4 Suggestions for Future Research ................................................................. 265

Participation ............................................................................................ 265

Learning Styles ....................................................................................... 265

Camp ....................................................................................................... 266

Self-efficacy ............................................................................................ 266

Programs ................................................................................................. 266

xv

BIBLIOGRAPHY ........................................................................................................... 267

APPENDIX A ................................................................................................................. 283

COMPARISON OF BOYS TO GIRLS .............................................................. 283

APPENDIX B ................................................................................................................. 286

NATIONAL SCIENCE TEACHERS POSITION STATEMENT ..................... 286

APPENDIX C ................................................................................................................. 289

MERIT BADGE REQUIREMENTS ................................................................. 289

Appendix C.1 Merit Badge & Rank Requirements Mapped Onto the 5-8 National Science Education Standards .............................................................................. 297

Appendix C.2 Merit Badge & Rank Advancement Requirements Mapped Onto the 9-12 National Science Education Standards ................................................. 305

APPENDIX D ................................................................................................................. 306

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE MERIT BADGE REQUIREMENTS ............... 306

APPENDIX E ................................................................................................................. 310

QUOTES FROM OPEN ENDED SURVEY QUESTIONS .............................. 310

APPENDIX F.................................................................................................................. 321

LEARNING STYLE STATISTICS ................................................................... 321

Appendix F.1: Learning Styles of Scouts .......................................................... 322

Appendix F.2: Cluster Analysis Results of the Learning Styles of Scouts ........ 323

Appendix F.3 Distances Between Final Cluster Centers .................................... 324

Appendix F.4: Number of Scouts in each Learning Style Cluster ..................... 324

Appendix F.5: Cluster Analysis Statistics Learning Styles of Scouts ............... 325

xvi

Appendix F.6: Cluster Analysis for the Best Learning Modality for Scouts ..... 326

APPENDIX G ................................................................................................................. 327

TESTING INSTRUMENT ................................................................................. 327

xvii

LIST OF TABLES Table 2.1: Comparisons between Scouting programs…………………………………...23 Table 2.2: Science in Scouting vs. Science in Traditional Schools……………………...65 Table 3.1: Research Design……………………………………………………………111 Table 4.1: Answers to open-ended question, “Does it help you do better in school?” by Scout Rank……………………………...……………………………….150 Table 4.2: Scout Types in Three Clusters……………………………………………...172 Table 4.3: Locations where Scouts Encounter Science…………………………...…...243 Table 4.4: Longitudinal Score Differential by Age……………………………………247 Table 4.5: Between Age Group Effects Test Results………………………………….248 Table 4.6: Longitudinal and Control Univariate Analysis of Variance…………......…248 Table 4.7: Longitudinal and Control Parameter Estimates……………………...……..248 Table 4.8: Program and Control Score Differentials…………………………………..249 Table 4.9: Score Differentials Between Treatment and Control Groups………………249 Table 4.10: Score Differentials and Location………………………………………….250 Table 4.11: Score Differential Significance by Location……………………………...251

xviii

LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1.1: Learning Continuum………………………………………………………...15 Figure 3.1 Interview Participants………………………………………………………...96 Figure 3.2 Scout Participants…………………………………………………………….96 Figure 3.3 Geology Merit Badge Participants………………………………………….109 Figure 3.4: Geology Diagram………………………………………………………….127 Figure 4.1 Total Merit Badge Requirements mapped onto the National Science Education Standards, 5-8 and 9-12………………………………………...144 Figure 4.2: Favorite Thing About Scouting……………………………………………169 Figure 4.3: Scouts Science Locations…………………………………………………244 Figure 4.4: Control Group Frequency by Age………………………………………...245 Figure 4.5: Treatment Group Frequency by Age……………………………………...245 Figure 5.1: Boy Scout Locations and Activities……………………………………….264

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1. INTRODUCTION “The basic skills and values that are taught in Scouting are values and skills that I use every day.”

Dr. Lonnie G. Thompson, Ph.D. Winner of the National Medal of Science Time Hero of the Environment, 2008 National Academy of Science Member

Scout Oath “On my honor I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country And to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, Mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” Outdoor Code “As an American, I will do my best to Be clean in my outdoor manners, Be careful with fire, Be considerate in the outdoors, and Be conservation minded.” (The Boy Scouts of America, 1998)

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1.1 Background of the Problem Lord Baden-Powell started the Boy Scouts because he believed that the young men of Great Britain were in trouble morally, physically, and militarily (Rosenthal, 1986). Young males today are also in trouble - educational trouble and moral trouble. Statistics kept by the U.S. Department of Education since 1981, show that boys lag behind girls according to almost every educational measure (Cole, 1997; Gurian & Stevens, 2004; Mortenson, 2006) (Appendix A ). In many nations, especially those with post-industrial economies, including the United States, there is an increasing gap in school performance, college attendance, and college completion between girls and boys (Judith Kleinfeld & Reyes, 2007). In the most recent survey of American youth, cheating is rampant in schools and is on the rise; 64% of students cheated on a test during the past year, up from 60% in 2006. Both boys, 35% , and girls, 26%, admitted to stealing from a store during the past year ("The ethics of American youth - 2008 summary", 2008). The enrollment of males in higher education has been on a “downward spiral” since their peek percentage enrollment in 1949, with 69.7% of college enrollees being male. By 2002 the percentage of males enrolled in higher education had fallen to 43.1% of the total enrollment in institutions of higher education, with no evidence of a trend reversal. This trend of males abandoning the college track begins in middle school and high school, where boys study less, take fewer college-prep classes, make lower grades, and participate less in extra-curricular activities (R. Jones, 2005). The Public Policy Institute of California, in study of California public schools, has found a higher rate of enrollment by high school girls in most math and science courses.

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Except for computer science courses, girls enroll at higher rates in all subject area courses that fulfill college entrance requirements. Researcher Ann Danenberg found girls enrolled in physical science classes at a 7% higher rate and in life science classes at a 16% higher rate (Public Policy Institute of California, 2001). Indicators for the 2003/2004 school year showed girls made up a higher percentage of students enrolled in chemistry classes, while boys made up a slightly higher percentage of students taking high school physics classes. The skew towards females is higher in chemistry classes with the gender proportions being more nearly equal in physics classes ("State-level data on state science-math indicators from the 2003-04 school year", 2008). At the college level, a study comparing the gender of science majors at Swarthmore College in 2001, showed the following distribution of males to females: Males Females ƒ Biology - 9 25 ƒ Chemistry - 2 0 ƒ Computer science - 15 0 ƒ Engineering - 18 7 ƒ Physics/Astronomy – 8 3 (Paul, 2002)

The test scores and number of science and math courses taken by girls in high school have increased much more rapidly than those of boys during the past thirty years, contributing significantly to the discrepancy of male/female college enrollment and graduation rates (Cho, 2007). College enrollment statistics show a skew towards females: ƒ Undergraduate enrollment in four year colleges – female 56%, male 44% ƒ Graduate enrollment – female 60%, male 40% ƒ First-professional degree – female 50%, male 50%. (L. G. Knapp, Kelly-Reid, & Whitmore, 2007).

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1.2 Statement of the Problem Scouts are exposed to and experience science at many levels; boys indicate that participation in Scouting helps increase their interest in science ("Values of Americans: A study of ethics and character", 2005), yet a search of the literature reveals limited research on Scout science. According to Pat Wellen, Director of Research for the Boy Scouts of America, there is no research on science education in the Boy Scouts, even though most of the merit badges have a science basis (Wellen, 2008). If boys are exposed to science as Scouts, how much exposure do they receive? Where? How do boys learn science in Scouts? Are boys held accountable for the science they learn in Scouts? Is the Boy Scout experience effective in teaching boys science? Do the science experiences boys have as Scouts excite them about science and enable them to do better in school? Do Scouts believe that their Boy Scout experiences help them do better in school? 1.3 Purpose of the Study The purposes of this study are: to determine the impacts of participation in the Boys Scouts of America (BSA); to determine what aspects of participation in the BSA influence science learning and interest; to determine if participation in the BSA merit badge program (specifically in the Geology merit badge) engenders science content in Boy Scouts; to identify the National Science Education Standards met by each merit badge; and to determine the learning styles preferences of Scouts.

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1.4 Theoretical Framework Boy Scouts have, underlying their educational material, a hands-on, activity based, free-choice philosophy. In 1907, when Lord Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts, educational theory was being influenced by John Dewey and Maria Montessori (Block, 2007) as well as Charlotte Mason (Smith, 2000). Pragmatism and free-choice learning, underpinned by Dewey’s, Montessori’s and Mason’s educational theories, permeate Boy Scout educational practices and materials even today. Knowledge, according to the conventional philosophical definition, is a special type of belief, a true, justified belief (Meyers, 2005). Dewey’s theories suggest that the foundation of knowledge, mediated by language and tools, is constituted by the interaction between man and his environment (Miettinen, 2006). Dewey, a pragmatist and post-positivist, rejected the absolutist idea that knowledge existed independently of the mind, even while he observed the usefulness of having a concept called knowledge. The pragmatist view of knowledge has consequences for society. The pragmatist view, because decisions must be made, acknowledges recognizing beliefs that are a reasonable justification for decision making rather than recognizing unjustified beliefs (Meyers, 2005). Pragmatism, by Dewey’s definition, was the philosophy that reality had a practical nature or character. When things of reality enter the sphere of the human by human-environment activity, they become known (Miettinen, 2006). Activity Theory, an integrated conceptual system rather than a predictive theory, has, as its unit of analysis, an activity directed at an object that motivates the activity. Activities consist of conscious, goal-directed actions undertaken to fulfill an object.

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While there are both internal and external activities, internal activities cannot be understood if analyzed separately from external activities as internal and external activities transform into one another. Because tool use influences external activities and behavior of individuals, it also influences their internal activities, their mental functioning (Kaptelinin, 1997). Dewey’s activity theory suggests that the foundation of knowledge is the interaction between man and his environment, mediated by tools and language (Miettinen, 2006). The categories of empiricism, naturalism, instrumentalism, and functionalism categorize the theory of activity proposed by Dewey. There is, according to Dewey, no distinction between self and the world of reality, as humans are practical beings engaged in exercise. Self and consciousness, special forms of action, are functions of life activity (Miettinen, 2006). The environment is educative when an individual does his share in an activity, thus appropriating the “methods and subject matters,” of the activity and acquiring needed skills. As the young partake of the activities of the groups to which they belong, the group educates them, without conscious intent. In order for an environment to develop specific factors, which the young will absorb deeply but without intent, the environment must be manipulated in order to develop the desired factors in the young. Guidance, not control, is how the group should direct the activities of the young; the direction should be both simultaneous and successive. Education by guidance works because young are interested in taking part in cooperative activities; effort must be made to make the conditions as educative as possible (Dewey, 1916).

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Free-choice learning, underpinned by Dewey’s educational theories, is also evident in the Boy Scout educational programs and practices; the experts, or merit badge counselors, as they are called in the Boy Scouts, are people who help the learner discover the things that are important to the learner. Dewey recognized informal learning as the “dominant influence in learners’ lives” (Meyers, 2005). Formal education, “deliberate educating of the young”, differs from informal education, the education one obtains through life and social interactions; in informal education, education is “incidental ... natural, and important” (Dewey, 1916). Learning styles theory, the theory that each individual has a preferred style in which to learn, has documented that “gender is one of six characteristics that tends to differentiate among individuals’ learning styles” (Honigsfeld & Dunn, 2003). “Post-structural feminism breaks with the theoretical frameworks in which gender and sexuality are understood as inevitable...”(Davies & Gannon, 2005). Through post- structural feminism, one can move beyond what is known, the accepted reality. Feminist discourse “rose to counteract the negative constructions of women and girls in masculinist discourse” (Davies & Gannon, 2005). The rise of feminism empowered women and led to better education for girls and women in and following a time when boys excelling over girls in school was taken to be “a stable/unquestionable truth.” However, statistics kept by the U.S. Department of Education show that boys currently lag behind girls according to almost every educational measure. In the 2004-05 school year, females earned a majority of associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees (Snyder, 2007). Feminist post-structural theory can help explain these new realities; realities in

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which the “unquestionable” superiority of boys in school has been disrupted (Davies & Gannon, 2005). Deconstruction, while it may not be a method of research as it is inextricably tangled with the object, is a means to look at the texts of both the merit badge pamphlets and the interview transcripts. Deconstruction reveals what may be hidden, can challenge what is taken for granted, and reveal blind spots (Burman & MacLure, 2005). Some of the binaries that may be investigated during the research study include the presence/absence of science or science terms, boys’ views of science in the Boy Scouts/adults’ views of science in the Boy Scouts, and the binary of written vs. experienced science in the Boy Scouts. 1.5 Research Questions 1. What impact(s) do(es) participation in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have on the learning of and interest in science? 2. What aspects of participation in the BSA influence science learning and interest? 3. Do the merit badge requirements align with the National Science Education Standards? 4. Does participation in the BSA merit badge program (specifically the Geology merit badge) engender science content knowledge as identified by National Science Education Standards? 5. What are the learning styles preferences of Scouts?

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1.6 Importance of the Study Science learning does not occur in a vacuum, from a single experience; science learning does not always occur in a school setting. Science educational experiences occur wherever people live, work, study, play, or visit. Science learning is cumulative, an amalgamation of the science experiences from zoos, museums, school classes, television shows, books, newspapers, Internet sites, out-of-school activities, community based organizations including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, and similar youth organizations (John H. Falk, 2001). “Museum-like settings,” including zoos, aquariums, museums, and nature centers, have been the sites of most of the research on science education outside of schools. This research has provided a baseline of understanding the educational potential of free-choice learning situations for science education. “Clearly lacking, though, are comparable studies of learning from film, radio, community-based organizations such as scouts, summer camps, home, friends, the workplace, the Internet, and a whole range of other real-world situations,” (Dierking, Falk, Rennie, Anderson, & Ellenbogen, 2003). This study may be significant in determining how informal science education programs expose boys to science, what informal science experiences are valued by Scouts, Scout leaders, and scientists who were Scouts. Boy Scouts may be one of the largest providers of long-term informal science education for American youth, as Scouts make up 14% of the population of boys between the ages of 11 and 18. Boy Scout programs, including Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venture Crew, involve 9.5% of the

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available population between the ages of 7 and 18 (The Boy Scouts of America, 2008d; Wellen, 2008). The Boy Scouts of America has limited research on how their programs meet the educational needs of boys. Research exists on how Scouts develop values and how the Boy Scouts promotes good character, but research for science education as addressed by the Boy Scouts is limited. More research is needed in this area to document that the Boy Scout Program fills a needed role in introducing boys to science and providing them with experiences with which to construct knowledge. America’s educational infrastructure benefits from both the formal and informal educational providers (John H. Falk, 2001) as important educational roles are filled by each (Schugurensky, 2006). As the nation depends - for scientific and educational literacy - on its educational infrastructure, the infrastructure is vital to the well-being of the nation. Boy Scouts, as a free-choice/informal educational provider, is a part of the nation’s educational infrastructure. The educational role performed by the Boy Scouts, as part of the free-choice/informal portion of the educational infrastructure, is greatly underestimated, not well understood, and greatly underappreciated (John H. Falk, 2001). This study, the first comprehensive study of science education in the Boy Scouts of America organization, is an attempt to fill a hole in the research on science education external to a school setting, and is designed to document the role of the Boy Scouts as an effective informal/free-choice science education provider.

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1.7 Definition of Terms (Terms of importance defined for utilization in this study are underlined). In order to avoid confusion, the terms Boy Scout and Boy Scouts will be reserved, except in direct quotations, for the Boy Scouts of America organization (BSA). The Boy Scouts of America is a national educational organization: “The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America, incorporated on February 8, 1910, and chartered by Congress in 1916, is to provide an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness,”(The Boy Scouts of America, 2008d).

The basic organizational unit of the Boy Scouts is the local Boy Scout troop; troops are organized into districts and districts into councils. The National Boy Scout Headquarters is the overarching governing body of the Boy Scout organization. Boys, between the ages of 11 and 18 (possibly age 10 if they have earned their Arrow of Light Award and “crossed over” from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts) who are members of the Boy Scouts of America, are identified as Scouts . Younger members of the Boy Scouts are Cub Scouts ; the youngest Cub Scouts are Tigers , age seven; the oldest Cub Scouts are Webelos . The coed branch of the Boy Scouts is the Venture program . A Scoutmaster is the designated adult leader of Boy Scout troop. A Scout leader or Scouter , as defined for this paper, is an adult volunteer registered to work with a Boy Scout troop who has passed a criminal background check (The Boy Scouts of America, 2008d). Scout leaders include Scoutmasters and merit badge counselors. The Order of the Arrow , OA, is the Boy Scouts’ National Honor Society. Scouts who, “best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives,” are inducted into the society when the other members of their troop vote them in. Membership in the OA can

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be for life; membership does not end when a boy turns 18. The OA provides leadership training and opportunities for its members to participate in service and activities (The Boy Scouts of America, 2008d). A merit badge is a round patch embroidered with a symbol representative of the subject of the merit badge topic, given to a Scout upon completion of a series of requirements. Merit badges are sewn on a sash worn across the right shoulder and chest at formal functions. (If a Scout is a member of the OA, he wears his OA sash instead; the merit badge sash is then folded and worn suspended from the belt in order to display the Scout’s merit badge accomplishments.) The merit badge pamphlet contains the requirements and information that a Scout needs to know in order to pass the merit badge requirements; there is a merit badge pamphlet for each of the 121 different merit badges. To complete the requirements of a merit badge Scouts may work together or on their own; Scouts may work on merit badges individually, as a troop activity, at summer camp, or at a special event. To pass the requirements and earn the merit badge a Scout must work with a merit badge counselor. A merit badge counselor in the Boy Scouts of America is the term used in this paper for a mentor or counselor, which, for this paper, are assumed synonymous. A mentor or counselor is a person, usually older and more experienced, who guides, fosters, advises, and supports the progress of another person, often advising on a special subject (Microsoft, 2006). In the Boy Scouts, merit badge counselors are people who are sincerely interested in boys, work with them, encourage them, listen to them, make a difference in their lives (The Boy Scouts of America, 2008g, 2008h). Merit badge

Full document contains 352 pages
Abstract: This study of science education in the Boy Scouts of America focused on males with Boy Scout experience. The mixed-methods study topics included: merit badge standards compared with National Science Education Standards, Scout responses to open-ended survey questions, the learning styles of Scouts, a quantitative assessment of science content knowledge acquisition using the Geology merit badge, and a qualitative analysis of interview responses of Scouts, Scout leaders, and scientists who were Scouts. The merit badge requirements of the 121 current merit badges were mapped onto the National Science Education Standards: 103 badges (85.12%) had at least one requirement meeting the National Science Education Standards. In 2007, Scouts earned 1,628,500 merit badges with at least one science requirement, including 72,279 Environmental Science merit badges. "Camping" was the "favorite thing about Scouts" for 54.4% of the boys who completed the survey. When combined with other outdoor activities, what 72.5% of the boys liked best about Boy Scouts involved outdoor activity. The learning styles of Scouts tend to include tactile and/or visual elements. Scouts were more global and integrated than analytical in their thinking patterns; they also had a significant intake element in their learning style. Earning a Geology merit badge at any location resulted in a significant gain of content knowledge; the combined treatment groups for all location types had a 9.13% gain in content knowledge. The amount of content knowledge acquired through the merit badge program varied with location; boys earning the Geology merit badge at summer camp or working as a troop with a merit badge counselor tended to acquire more geology content knowledge than boys earning the merit badge at a one-day event. Boys retained the content knowledge learned while earning the merit badge. Scientists, Scout leaders, and Scouts felt that Scouts learned science through participation in the Boy Scout program, both in the merit badge program and also through activities, trips, outdoors, in meetings, and through rank advancement. On an open-ended questionnaire, 75.2% of Scouts reported that doing merit badges helped them do better in school. Scout leaders indicated that the overall Scouting environment introduced boys to science. Scout scientists credited Boy Scouts with providing experiences that interested and/or helped them in their scientific careers.