Module 2

Module 2 Home

'Best Practice' in Coastal
and Marine Studies





1 Introduction

2. Defining Best Practice

3 Guidelines For Including Aboriginality In Environmental Education

4. Windows On Classrooms and Schools

5. Conclusion


1. Introduction

This is an icebreaker in which participants work in pairs to share their perceptions of 'best practice' and then report their discussion to a new pair of participants. The activity develops skills of active listening and encourages participants to work with others they do not know.

  • Display OHT 1 which presents an overview of the workshop.

  • Explain how these activities are designed to build on the understandings of the nature, scope and purpose of coastal and marine studies, especially the ways in which this can contribute to education for ecologically sustainable development developed in Module 1.

  • Ask each participant to locate a person he/she does not know (or does not know very well) and to arrange their chairs so that they are sitting relatively close to each other, face-to-face, for a conversation.

  • Ask one person in each pair to volunteer to be an 'active listener'. Briefly review the principles of active listening - good eye contact, open posture, smiles and nods, etc.

  • The 'speaker' in each pair is to think briefly, then speak for three minutes on the topic of 'best practice in coastal and marine studies'. OHT 2 provides some guidelines.

  • After the three minutes, ask the 'speakers' and 'active listeners' to swap roles and repeat the process.

  • Ask each pair to join another to make a group of four and invite each person in the group, in turn, to report to the group on what he/she learnt about 'best practice' from his/her partner while being an 'active listener'.

  • Ask each group of four to decide on one key point from their discussions that they think would be of value to the whole group.

  • Hear group reports of these 'key points', making a list on an OHT, board or chart of these important points. These points will be used again in the conclusion.

2. Defining Best Practice

  • Introduce the activity by reminding participants of the nature, scope and purpose of coastal and marine studies which were explored in Module 1. You may like to use some of the OHTs from Module 1 as reminders.

  • Explain that the term 'best practice' has two aspects within schools. These are:

    • What teachers are doing in schools, and

    • What students are getting out of it.

    Therefore, there are two sides to the question, 'What is 'best practice'?' The first response could be 'What and how teachers are teaching in their courses, programmes and field activities.' The second is 'What learning outcomes students are gaining from doing these courses, programmes and field activities.'

  • Make the point that a variety of teaching and learning strategies can contribute to 'best practice' and that what counts as 'best practice' will vary between teachers, schools and regions depending on local contexts and influences.

  • Explain that this activity requires participants to work in groups to design a poster which outlines a framework for describing 'best practice' in coastal and marine studies.


  • Photocopy Resource 1 so that there is one copy per group of 3-4 participants.

  • Cut out group sets of the small slips from Resource 1 and place each set in an envelope.

  • Obtain sets of pens, chart paper, paste, etc. for each group.

Running the Activity

  • Give each group an envelope containing a set of slips of paper (Resource 1) and a sheet of chart paper, pens and paste.

  • Ask participants to firstly divide the slips from their envelope into two groups - 'heading' slips and 'note point' slips.

  • Ask the participants to discuss the 'heading' slips in the envelope, and then to categorise the 'note point' slips under each of the 'heading' slips. Encourage groups to add extra note points and examples as they believe appropriate.

  • Ask the groups to arrange the 'heading' and 'note point' slips into a diagram (or concept map) in order to show the relationship between the different aspects of 'best practice' in coastal and marine studies.

  • Ask participants to lay out and glue the groups of slips on the chart paper in such a way as to show the relationships between the ideas. The pens can be used to draw boxes, lines, arrows or anything else that helps explain the group's views on what a Best Practice Framework for coastal and marine studies would be like.


  • Ask the groups to display and present a brief report that outlines the Best Practice Framework that they have developed.

  • Show OHT 3 (and hand out a copy) to each participant. Explain that this is a sample Best Practice Framework that was developed after interviews with coastal and marine studies teachers in fourteen schools across Australia. Briefly discuss this example with the group noting points that are on Resource 1 but which are not on OHT 3, and adding any extra points of their own.

  • Ask each group to revise its Best Practice Framework to take account of the discussion of various frameworks developed by the other groups and OHT 3.

3. Guidelines For Including Aboriginality In Environmental Education

The Best Practice Framework on OHT 3 developed from the case studies in fourteen schools did not emphasise Aboriginal perspectives on the coast and sea. Sadly, this is not unusual, as indigenous perspectives do tend to be a neglected dimension of environmental education in general. However, no discussion of 'best practice' can ignore this very important dimension.

  • Reading 1 provides a set of suggestions, organised as five principles (OHT 4) for helping overcome this omission. Copies should be provided to all participants.

  • However, by far the best way of addressing this issue is to invite Aboriginal participation in the workshop (see Principle 1), especially from the local community, Aboriginal educational advisers, or Aboriginal officers in natural resource management agencies.

  • Divide participants into five groups and allocate one principle per group. Allow 10-15 minutes for discussion on including Aboriginality in environmental education in schools and then hear group reports.

4. Windows On Classrooms and Schools

This activity requires participants to apply their Best Practice Frameworks to the evaluation of several examples of coastal and marine studies in practice. Two options are provided for this activity, according to the length of time available. The first option examines six classroom settings, while the second option investigates three school programmes and should only be undertaken if there is time for extensive reading.

  • Distribute copies of either Resource 2 containing descriptions of six sample coastal and marine lessons and/or activities or Resource 3 which includes a more detailed description of three school programmes, to each group.

  • Ask the groups to read the descriptions and to answer the following questions (on OHT 5 and also listed on Resources 2 and 3):

    • How do the lessons/programmes relate to your Best Practice Framework (or, if you prefer, to the one in OHT 3)?

    • Which of the six lessons/three programmes would you most like to teach? Why?

    • Are any of the six lessons/three programmes not really 'good' examples of coastal and marine studies? Why?

    • How do each of the examples help students learn for a sustainable environment?

    • What distinctive skills did the teachers in the examples need to make these activities a success?

  • Participants briefly report back to the whole group on their discussions and answers to the questions.

5. Conclusion

  • Refer participants to the list of key points recorded on an OHT, white board or chart paper from Activity 1. These are the points participants thought were very important at the start of the workshop.

  • Ask them whether they would like to add additional points about 'best practice' in coastal and marine studies after experiencing the workshop.

  • Ask each group to select the three points that they believe are most important and justify their selections.

  • Ask participants to identify the skills they will need to be able to integrate these three points into their teaching.