Academic journal article International Education Studies

Connection of Environmental Education with Application of Experiential Teaching Methods: A Case Study from Greece

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Connection of Environmental Education with Application of Experiential Teaching Methods: A Case Study from Greece

Article excerpt


The main objective of this case study is to examine secondary education teachers' opinions concerning the connection of environmental education with the use of experiential teaching methods. Exploring whether the application of experiential methods can upgrade the learning procedure, leading to a more holistic approach, the research focuses on certain aspects of today's educational reality in the field of secondary environmental education. Studying a sample of secondary education teachers in Northern Greece, among the research's main findings is teachers' belief that environmental education can play an important role in today's educational reality, as respondents acknowledge that environmental education in secondary schools can serve as a useful tool for integrating environmental values into students' everyday life.

Keywords: case study, environmental education, experiential teaching methods, secondary education teachers

1. Introduction

Over the past two decades, environmental education has gained significant recognition as theorists worldwide have acknowledged its value, viewing the environment in its entirety including social, political, economic, technological, moral and aesthetic aspects (Palmer & Neal, 1994; Palmer, 2002). At the same time, the growing environmental awareness illustrates the need for an effective environmental education scheme that would give birth to new ways of thinking (Markaki, 2014). Recently, the role of environmental education has become a much-debated issue and research on environmental education research has highlighted its rapidly expanding size and increasingly diverse nature (Rickinson, 2001).

Environmental education is a lifelong process which uses a broad range of teaching and learning techniques, with emphasis on practical activities and first-hand experience (Palmer & Neal, 1994). Thus, experiential methods which focus on students' own life experiences and involve a high degree of participation are becoming increasingly common in environmental education (Daskolia, Dimos, & Kampylis, 2012).

Experiential learning is a process based on the pedagogical principle of "learning by doing" as students acquire knowledge after having experienced or done something new (Kotti, 2008; Fragoulis & Tsiplakides, 2009). According to Kolb (1984), experiential learning is a holistic process of adaptation to the real world and therefore it encompasses concepts such as creativity, problem solving, decision making and attitude change (Kolb, 1984). Since the first half of the twentieth century, experiential learning has been promoted by influential educators such as John Dewey and Paulo Freire according to whom methods that go beyond traditional lecture and transfer of information can actively engage students making the learning procedure more interesting and appealing (Maloof, 2006).

2. Connection of Environmental Education and Experiential Teaching Methods

It is widely accepted that environmental education and experiential teaching methods are very closely connected. Methods, such as case studies, experiments, field exercises, simulations, excursions, debates, projects, role-playing and guided inquiry facilitate the learning procedure and support students in understanding real-world problems (Markaki, 2014). In addition, experiential methods facilitate learners to open up their senses to nature and bond with it, to increase their receptivity toward environmental reality (Daskolia, Dimos, & Kampylis, 2012). Especially in environmental education, any given classroom or school laboratory can become a setting for experiential learning (Wurdinger & Carlson, 2010). Also, school yards and the surrounding environment can function as a useful setting for many experiential learning experiences. In any case, school yards can be used in a number of different ways, including experiential studies of flora and fauna, gardening, compost production and recycling projects. …

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