The Effects of Different Environmental Education Programs on the Environmental Behavior of Seventh-Grade Students and Related Factors. (International Perspectives)

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study used random allocation to separate out groups of students from four Taipei junior high schools, each of which underwent a different environmental-education program, in order to examine the effects of such programs on students' environmental behavior and related factors. Results indicate that Taiwanese junior high schools should coordinate the teaching of environmental programs with other school activities to obtain the most ideal results.

Introduction

It is reasonable to assume that today's environmental problems arise from the lifestyles humans lead. As a result of those lifestyles, public health has been endangered, and there has been a loss of ecological balance. Therefore, learning to respect nature and understanding how to coexist with and care for the environment are essential parts of lifelong learning, tasks everyone must henceforward face. One of the most fundamental chapters in this process of lifelong learning is environmental education in schools.

It has been reported, however, that for students today, the primary sources of information about the environment are television and other mass media, not the classroom (Disinger, 1990; Hausbeck, Enright, & Milbrath, 1992). Students' knowledge of the environment is limited and incomplete. The Kanagawa Prefecture Environmental Sciences Center (1991) and the Shinno Environmental Education Research Survey Committee (1992) found that students are more concerned with global environmental issues than they are with environmental phenomena experienced in daily life. In addition, the rate at which students practice environmental behaviors in daily life is rather low; for that reason, there is a need to further promote environmental education in schools.

Leeming, Cobern, Dwyer, & Porter (1993) pointed out that in the majority of past research into environmental education, problems with study design, materials, and methods of analysis have greatly limited the relevance of results. In view of that argument, the authors of the current study focused their research on an educational concept that they believed to be both rational and prudent-- namely, "resource conservation."

By examining junior-high-school students, whose notions regarding the world are just in the process of forming, the authors were able to combine learning activities and evaluation of the results. Moreover, they were able to consider what aspects--cognitive or affective--of environmental education need to be addressed in Taiwan's schools from this point on and to assess which educational approaches are most effective.

Methods and Materials

Research Design

This research adopted a quasi-experimental study design as shown in Figure 1.

Environmental-Education Programs at Different Schools

The vast majority of previous research in this field used study designs (such as formal classroom education and observation) in which the individual was the primary focus. By contrast, the present study was designed to include school activities and family participation in addition to the development of a classroom curriculum. The ideal intervention program thus had three components: curriculum design, school activities, and family participation.

Curriculum design included the following elements:

* Classroom instruction was aimed at the study of important concepts related to resource conservation. In total, five hours of classroom instruction were conducted.

* A field trip provided four hours of observation at a waste incineration plant.

* Audiovisual learning consisted of one hour spent viewing and discussing a cartoon video about the environment.

School activities included the following elements:

* class discussion--one hour in each class was spent on discussion and recording of ideas about predetermined topics related to resource conservation;

* speaker--a presentation was given on waste classification and recycling;

* answering questions for prizes--after the speaker's lecture was completed, 10 questions were created, and students were invited to answer;

* environmental slogan competition and exhibition;

* composition competition;

* poster creation contest; and

* recycling activities--collection and separation of school garbage. …