Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Environmental Science and Policy

Major Professor

Philip Reeder, Ph.D.

Keywords

Experiential learning, Environmental attitudes, Out-of-school excursions

Abstract

This study examines the linkages between environmental field trips and cognitive and affective gains in two groups of homogenous elementary-aged students in Mollepata, Peru. One group participated in an environmental field trip to a local, non-profit farm (Aprodes) to explore watershed and agricultural issues. The second group received the same content within the classroom setting. The research also examines the environmental perceptions of local residents via semi-formal open-ended interviews to assess their environmental awareness and their willingness to receive environmental education services from an outside organization. Data were collected both quantitatively and qualitatively via pre and post tests containing science content and environmental attitudes items; pre and post student journals and parent and teacher interviews.

Data were analyzed within the framework of the United Nation's goals of environmental education in the Belgrade Charter (1975) and within the context of theories on human-nature relationships. Students in the field trip group scored slightly better in the cognitive portion of the tests though differences were not statistically significant. Similarly, slight gains in pro-environment attitudes occurred in the field trip group over the classroom groups though overall results for both groups were nearly identical. Parents and teachers are moderately aware of environmental problems within the town but do not equate agricultural problems of synthetic chemical usage or other agricultural related problems cited to broader watershed issues. They consistently desire for their children to receive advanced educations in the city so that they become better than their parents.

Adults interviewed placed a high value on education and claimed to welcome an outside group providing environmental education to the entire community. The data indicates a need for additional environmental knowledge and awareness and that students in rural, Andean settings may benefit from structured classroom lessons paired with experiential experiences outside of the classroom. It is the researcher's firm belief that addressing cognitive and affective growth with regards to environmental education will collectively contribute to developing a world population that is aware and concerned for the environment and the knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivation and commitment to work toward solutions to and prevention of environmental problems.

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