Academic journal article International Education Studies

Environmental Learning Workshop: Lichen as Biological Indicator of Air Quality and Impact on Secondary Students' Performance

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Environmental Learning Workshop: Lichen as Biological Indicator of Air Quality and Impact on Secondary Students' Performance

Article excerpt


In this study, the learning of science outside the classroom is believe to be an added value to science learning as well as it offers students to interact with the environment. This study presents data obtained from two days' workshop on Lichen as Biological Indicator for Air Quality. The aim of the workshop is for the students to gain an understanding on various aspects on Lichens and its role as a biological indicator. Students are exposed to the following concepts and skills in the workshop: characteristics of algae, the concept of Lichen, causes of polluted air, the concept of quadrant, how to measure the frequency of Lichen, types of Lichen, determining the air quality index, factors determining the quality of air, the role of Lichen, the function of Lichen as a biological indicator and determining the level of air pollution. Four schools participated in the two day workshop whereby two schools were located in rural and urban areas respectively. A total of 125 students were given a pre-test on the concept of Lichen before the workshop followed by brief lecture sessions, hands-on and field work activities, presentation by students. At the end of the workshop, students were given a post-test. Overall, from the pre and post-test results, there is a significant difference in terms of students' performance from all the four schools, in knowledge and skills relating to Lichen and its role as a biological indicator in determining the quality of air.

Keywords: environmental learning, lichen, air quality, secondary students, biological indicator

1. Introduction

The World's Earth Day which was introduced in 1970 is the beginning of the era of environment. Environmental problems experienced by today's society could be overcome through changes in personel behaviour (Gigliotti, 1992). The environmental problem faced now is not limited to a particular country but it is also a global issue. Thus, it is necessary to create awareness of environmental problems and issues for the masses. Education plays an important role in providing and creating awareness about environment and the problems associated with it. Awareness of environmental issues is seen as a catalyst to behavioural change towards environment. The main aim of environmental education at school is to create awareness among students about and on environment and the problems as well as inculcation of positive attitudes towards environment. This is to ensure that the students are able to play a more effective role in managing the environment. Thus, it is necessary to understand to what extent students are aware of their environment, environmental problems and species that are available in their environment.

In Malaysia, environmental education is implemented across the curriculum. The approach 'across curriculum' refers to the integration of content and skills relating to environment in an existing subject content without jeopardizing the integrity of the existing subject or giving a negatif impact to a particular subject (Hungerford et al. 1994). Even though, Nillson (2008) suggests that this approach has advantages in terms of giving autonomy to the teachers in deciding whether the learning of environment should be done on its own or integrated at the end of each lesson, but due to the lack of time and also the already heavy loaded curriculum, such integration might not occur. It is due to this reason that the inculcation of knowledge, attitude, and behaviour towards the environment is often at low and moderate level (Norlila, 2007; Mageswary et al., 2006).

Based on the curriculum analysis of environmental education documented in 'Teachers Guide on Environmental Education Across KBSM Curriculum' (Sharifah, 2011), it was found that the aim of environmental education was inculcated holistically across the curriculum. The inculcation includes all aspects related to environmental education namely knowledge, awareness, attitude, behaviour and actions towards environment. …

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