Contextualising learning through the participatory construction of an environmental education programme

Isabel Ruiz-Mallen, Laura Barraza, Barbara Bodenhorn, Maria de la Paz Ceja-Adame, Victoria Reyes-García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Strengthening links between school and community is critical for improving people's participation in environmental issues. However, Mexican education programmes are generally unrelated to rural students' life experience and are planned without considering either teachers' or students' opinions. This article describes the participatory construction of a preparatory school environmental education (EE) programme in Ixtlan de Juarez, a Mexican indigenous community internationally recognised for sustainable forest management. The qualitative research methods used are based on the action research methodology. Results from interviews conducted with the preparatory school's headmaster, the coordinator, and nine teachers provided the needed documentation of the school site for contextualising learning activities. Feedback during focus groups with six students, three teachers, five local communal authorities, and two researchers highlighted that all participants perceived the need for creating an educational programme focused on local forest management. The contents and activities of the programme were designed by the focus group's participants. The programme has been continuously taught by teachers and forest workers since 2005 and was officially integrated with the preparatory school science curriculum in 2006. This participative educational experience has thus transformed the mandatory school curriculum in Ixtlan. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1755-1770
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Action research
  • Contextualising as pedagogical technique
  • Environmental education
  • Mexico
  • Participatory methods


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