Advisor

William Becker

Date of Award

Summer 1-17-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in General Science

Department

Science Teaching

Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 73 pages)

Subjects

Environmental education -- Study and teaching (Elementary) -- Evaluation, Science -- Study and teaching (Elementary) -- Evaluation, Environmental education -- Minorities -- Attitudes, Environmental education -- Sex differences -- Attitudes

DOI

10.15760/etd.1538

Abstract

The goal of environmental education (EE) has always been to increase knowledge about the environment and to foster positive environmental attitudes. Increasingly, as the call for integrating EE programs into mainstream science curriculum intensifies, it is important to continue to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs not only through measures of change in knowledge and attitudes, but through the additional criteria of meeting the needs of different gender and ethnic groups.

The purpose of this research was to identify whether a watershed education program was meeting the needs of diverse learners within the context of a year-long, integrated, sixth-grade science curriculum. This study specifically sought to answer the following questions: 1) Do differences exist between genders and ethnic groups in regards to change in environmental knowledge after participation in an environmental education program? and 2) Do differences exist between genders and ethnic groups in regards to changes in environmental attitudes after participation in an environmental education program?

A mixed-methods approach consisting of a pre/post-test survey, interviews, and observational data was used to evaluate these questions. The quantitative results of the survey data suggests that, overall, students had statistically significant (p < 0.01) gains in environmental knowledge, but no change in attitude towards the environment after participation in the program. When subpopulations are broken down into gender and ethnic groups, however, there is statistically significant support for the idea that ethnic groups--and, to a lesser extent, gender groups--were affected differently by the program. One important finding was that Hispanic and Native American students had significantly less gain in knowledge than their White, Asian and African-American peers. Qualitative interviews and observations shed light on these findings and illustrate the experiences of students during the year-long program. Other findings, trends, observations, and opportunities for future research are also discussed.

Persistent Identifier

http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/10551

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