THE HUMMINGBIRD APPROACH:

A CASE STUDY OF GUIDED DISCOVERY LEARNING FOR CHILDREN IN NATURE

by
JAMIE PAULINE BLACK

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences
in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of

MASTERS OF ARTS IN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
AND COMMUNICATION

Royal Roads University
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Supervisor: Dr. Hilary Leighton
May, 2017
JAMIE BLACK, 2017

Abstract

This case study examines a group of 10-11 year-olds participating in a nature-based
educational role-play adventure program called Wild Craft Play. The facilitative approach used
mirrors some of the characteristics of the hummingbird, and thereby is affectionately referred to
within these pages as The Hummingbird Approach. In this approach, once the facilitator has set
the activities in motion (like the Hummingbird), her role becomes one of hovering as observer or
witness rather than that of the more traditional didactic instructor who stands in front and tells
the students what they will learn. In this way, the Hummingbird facilitator ‘pollinates’ the
learning process with questions, comments and stories at appropriate intervals in order to
catalyze and deepen the children’s flowering awareness. Seven sessions of Wild Craft Play were
video-recorded for the purposes of data collection, theming, and analysis to help examine and
assess participant engagement and identify what facilitation techniques effectively optimized
their learning, with the potential for replication and possible future training of other nature-based
facilitators. This case study also suggests that strong and important connections are forged
through this more playful approach that invites children to make their own discoveries and
meaning, guiding them toward a deeper level of understanding.

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