Award Date

12-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology

Department

Educational Psychology

First Committee Member

Lori Olafson, Chair

Second Committee Member

Lisa Bendixen

Third Committee Member

Gregory Schraw

Graduate Faculty Representative

Margaret Rees

Number of Pages

152

Abstract

This study used a convergent parallel mixed methods design to examine teachers' environmental attitudes and concerns about an outdoor educational field trip. Converging both quantitative data (Environmental Attitudes Scale and teacher demographics) and qualitative data (Open-Ended Statements of Concern and interviews) facilitated interpretation. Research has shown that adults' attitudes toward the environment strongly influence children's attitudes regarding the environment. Science teachers' attitudes toward nature and attitudes toward children's field experiences influence the number and types of field trips teachers take. Measuring teacher attitudes is a way to assess teacher beliefs.

The one day outdoor field trip had significant outcomes for teachers. Quantitative results showed that practicing teachers' environmental attitudes changed following the Forever Earth outdoor field trip intervention. Teacher demographics showed no significance. Interviews provided a more in-depth understanding of teachers' perspectives relating to the field trip and environmental education. Four major themes emerged from the interviews: 1) environmental attitudes, 2) field trip program, 3) integrating environmental education, and 4) concerns. Teachers' major concern, addressed prior to the field trip through the Open-Ended Statements of Concern, was focused on students (i.e., behavior, safety, content knowledge) and was alleviated following the field trip. Interpretation of the results from integrating the quantitative and qualitative results shows that teachers' personal and professional attitudes toward the environment influence their decision to integrate environmental education in classroom instruction.

Since the Forever Earth field trip had a positive influence on teachers' environmental attitudes, further research is suggested to observe if teachers integrate environmental education in the classroom to reach the overall goal of increasing environmental literacy.

Keywords

Ecology – Study and teaching; Education; Field trips; Fieldwork (Educational method); Mixed methods; Outdoor education; School field trips; Science – Study and teaching; Teachers – Attitudes

Disciplines

Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Psychology | Environmental Sciences | Teacher Education and Professional Development

Language

English