Title

Different teaching strategies of environmental education and how effective they are are promoting environmentally conscious action in students

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Joe Caudell

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

From personal experience I have seen how much environmental issues can be a strong topic of contention. Even while only tabling with my environmental club on my college campus I have seen how easily people can be put off by topics like climate change. During a Project Learning Tree workshop, I experienced first-hand what it was like to be in a diverse group of people while learning more about common misconceptions regarding climate change. The people that made up the group were different in many ways, including different socioeconomic background, race, gender, upbringing and ideologies. When exploring the common misconceptions in detail, almost every one of us learned something new. Hearing different points of view offered great insight, but also created friction as we dove deeper into the subject and people began asking more divisive questions. It’s important to note that most of us did not know each other and although there were some ice breaker activities that helped alleviate any unfamiliarity, there was still some apprehension. In most environmental workshops, like Project Learning Tree, Project WET and Project Underground, educators from across a region come together for a short time to learn about a variety of environmental issues and obtain certification to go on and teach it at their respective schools. During this brief time the educators meet each other for the first time and are all grouped into the same room to then learn and discuss contentious topics. Ice breakers are a good attempt at making strangers more comfortable around each other but they also have limitations. Could segregating the group based on shared similarities help the attendees feel more comfortable and ready to engage without feeling uncomfortable because they are in a new place with new people discussing difficult subjects? Attendees of environmental education workshops could be separated based on their different stand on environmental issues. For example, the group would be split into three smaller groups, environmentalists, people on the fence, and skeptics. During this time, the specific workshop topic would be shared with each group. Although the people in each group would still be in an unfamiliar place with people they are meeting for the first time, they would at least be with people they know they share similar ideals with. This would be a safe environment to share initial thoughts with. Once each group has had a chance to process the topic with people similar to them, they would all come together in the same room again and begin the workshop. In the past, segregation in an educational setting has shown to have a positive effect on the amount the targets learn. Students in single sex classes have had a positive attitude about being separated during a school year (Wills, 2006).

The effect of segregation by general ecological beliefs during environmental education workshops will be tested by asking attendees for their input after the workshop. As climate change continues to make its way into mainstream media and as new laws make it possible for teachers to obtain funding for environmental education programs, it will be vital for information during workshops to be relayed effectively to educators. By gathering data from previous segregation methods and conducting a meta-analysis we will be able to see trends in what methods work best when teaching controversial subjects.

Location

Large Ballroom, Curris Center

Start Date

April 2016

End Date

April 2016

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Apr 18th, 12:00 PM Apr 18th, 2:00 PM

Different teaching strategies of environmental education and how effective they are are promoting environmentally conscious action in students

Large Ballroom, Curris Center

From personal experience I have seen how much environmental issues can be a strong topic of contention. Even while only tabling with my environmental club on my college campus I have seen how easily people can be put off by topics like climate change. During a Project Learning Tree workshop, I experienced first-hand what it was like to be in a diverse group of people while learning more about common misconceptions regarding climate change. The people that made up the group were different in many ways, including different socioeconomic background, race, gender, upbringing and ideologies. When exploring the common misconceptions in detail, almost every one of us learned something new. Hearing different points of view offered great insight, but also created friction as we dove deeper into the subject and people began asking more divisive questions. It’s important to note that most of us did not know each other and although there were some ice breaker activities that helped alleviate any unfamiliarity, there was still some apprehension. In most environmental workshops, like Project Learning Tree, Project WET and Project Underground, educators from across a region come together for a short time to learn about a variety of environmental issues and obtain certification to go on and teach it at their respective schools. During this brief time the educators meet each other for the first time and are all grouped into the same room to then learn and discuss contentious topics. Ice breakers are a good attempt at making strangers more comfortable around each other but they also have limitations. Could segregating the group based on shared similarities help the attendees feel more comfortable and ready to engage without feeling uncomfortable because they are in a new place with new people discussing difficult subjects? Attendees of environmental education workshops could be separated based on their different stand on environmental issues. For example, the group would be split into three smaller groups, environmentalists, people on the fence, and skeptics. During this time, the specific workshop topic would be shared with each group. Although the people in each group would still be in an unfamiliar place with people they are meeting for the first time, they would at least be with people they know they share similar ideals with. This would be a safe environment to share initial thoughts with. Once each group has had a chance to process the topic with people similar to them, they would all come together in the same room again and begin the workshop. In the past, segregation in an educational setting has shown to have a positive effect on the amount the targets learn. Students in single sex classes have had a positive attitude about being separated during a school year (Wills, 2006).

The effect of segregation by general ecological beliefs during environmental education workshops will be tested by asking attendees for their input after the workshop. As climate change continues to make its way into mainstream media and as new laws make it possible for teachers to obtain funding for environmental education programs, it will be vital for information during workshops to be relayed effectively to educators. By gathering data from previous segregation methods and conducting a meta-analysis we will be able to see trends in what methods work best when teaching controversial subjects.