An Exploration of Experiences of Ontario Teachers with Animals and Their Perception of Animals in the Classroom
Master of Arts
Educators in Ontario have been challenged to support student achievement in academia, sustainability, social justice, and experiential learning. There is a need for tools which accomplish this learning simultaneously. This qualitative research explores the opinions and experiences of teachers with respect to student interactions with animals as a means of accomplishing learning in these areas. Semi-structured interviews with seven teachers were qualitatively analyzed through the framework of humane education and animal-assisted education. The teachers answered questions that explored their knowledge of animals, humane education, and animal-assisted education; their perception of animals in the enactment of pedagogy; their experiences with animals that inform their perceptions; and barriers and enablers to the involvement of animals in their classrooms. The conclusions drawn from this study follow previous research by finding that animal interactions may be beneficial for student learning. A new term, animal-enriched pedagogy, is proposed to guide future research and educative practice.
Summary for Lay Audience
The role of a teacher is to provide safe and enriching experiences for students. These experiences should provide knowledge and support students as they grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally. The Ontario Ministry of Education also emphasizes the importance of social justice and sustainability. This research explores teachers' opinions on animals and their involvement in educational experiences. Seven teachers were interviewed to determine what they know about animals and concepts and theories related to animals in education; how they perceive animals in teaching; what experiences they have had with animals to inform their opinions; and the barriers and enablers for bringing animals into classrooms. This research reaches similar conclusions as previous studies by finding that teachers feel that interactions with animals are beneficial for students. A new term, animal-enriched pedagogy, is proposed to encourage directed research and practice around animals in education.
Harte, Avery M., "An Exploration of Experiences of Ontario Teachers with Animals and Their Perception of Animals in the Classroom" (2023). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 9199.
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