Fieldbased education and indigenous knowledge: Essential components of geoscience education for native American communities Academic Article uri icon


  • The purpose of this study is to propose a framework drawing on theoretical and empirical science education research that explains the common prominent field-based components of the handful of persistent and successful Earth science education programs designed for indigenous communities in North America. These programs are primarily designed for adult learners, either in a postsecondary or in a technical education setting and all include active collaboration between local indigenous communities and geoscientists from nearby universities. Successful Earth science curricula for indigenous learners share in common an explicit emphasis on outdoor education, a place and problem-based structure, and the explicit inclusion of traditional indigenous knowledge in the instruction. Programs sharing this basic design have proven successful and popular for a wide range of indigenous cultures across North America. We present an analysis of common field-based elements to yield insight into indigenous Earth science education. We provide an explanation for the success of this design based in research on field-based learning, Native American learning styles research, and theoretical and empirical research into the nature and structure of indigenous knowledge. We also provide future research directions that can test and further refine our understanding of best practices in indigenous Earth science education. 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

published proceedings

  • Science Education

author list (cited authors)

  • Riggs, E. M.

citation count

  • 67

complete list of authors

  • Riggs, Eric M

publication date

  • January 2005