Environmental education and ethnicity
Larson, Lincoln Ray
MetadataShow full item record
The environmental education (EE) of America’s youth is a high priority, but the effects of EE on the environmental attitudes and awareness of children remain uncertain. Assessment strategies are needed to measure the influence of EE programs on the beliefs, attitudes, and awareness of children from different backgrounds. This study used a mixed-method, quasi-experimental approach to investigate the impact of a one-week EE summer camp program on the environmental attitudes and awareness of children from different ethnic groups. A survey instrument designed to measure children’s views of nature was created, refined, and validated through two pilot tests. The survey instrument revealed three primary components of attitudes and awareness: eco-affinity, eco-awareness, and content knowledge. A pre-test, post-test approach was used to assess program effects. Baseline data showed declining eco-affinity in older children and low levels of eco-awareness and content knowledge in African-Americans. The EE treatment produced a significant increase in eco-affinity for all children, particularly those in the older age group (10 to 13 year-olds). The treatment also led to higher content knowledge scores for all children, with the greatest increase evident in African-Americans. The summer EE program had little effect on eco-awareness. Results suggest that: (1) the EE influences different aspects of environmental attitudes to different degrees; and (2) the EE programs may be especially beneficial for children that are older and/or African-American. This study may help to generate future support for education and outreach programs for underserved populations.