Date of this Version
The experiential learning theory (ELT) has been integrated in educational programs through wildlife conservation education, Human-Animal Interaction (HAI), and Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL). The goal of this study was to evaluate the effect of different experiential learning tools, specifically animals and equine, on gaining knowledge through measuring the retention of 5th grade scientific concepts. Students attending the Institute of Wilderness Studies (IWS) at Pine Cove Camps in Central Texas were used to evaluate student knowledge through a quantitative assessment (n=142). Student knowledge was measured a total of three times using three assessments, one pretest and two posttests. Overall, the total sample did not result in a mean increase in total scores between pre-, post-, and delayed posttest; however, there were increases in scores for specific Texas Education of Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)-standards. Amongst the total sample, there were significant differences between pretest to posttest for 5.7B and 5.9B with a difference of 0.34 and 0.36, respectively. The TEKS-standard 5.7B showed a significant difference between pretest and delayed posttest with a difference of 0.56. Two of the four schools’ students resulted in significant differences, where Dogwood Elementary School had a significant difference for 5.7B between pretest and delayed posttest, 0.93, and posttest and delayed posttest, 0.93, and 5.9D showed a significant difference between posttest and delayed posttest of -0.43. For Bens Branch Elementary School, significant differences were found between pretest and delayed posttest for 5.7B with a difference of 0.86, 5.8C with a difference of 0.64, and 5.9B with a difference of 0.79. There was also a significant difference found for 5.10B between pretest and posttest, 0.50, and between pretest and delayed posttest, 0.48. Additionally, there were increases in scores for the different groups of TEKS-standards among the total sample. Horse-TEKS showed a significant difference between pretest and posttest, with a difference of 0.52. Nonanimal-TEKS showed a significant difference between pretest and posttest, 0.83, and between pretest and delayed posttest, 1.16.
Advisor: Kathleen Anderson