Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

School

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Sherry Herron

Committee Chair School

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Member 2

Dr. Deborah Chessin

Committee Member 3

Dr. Richard Mohn

Committee Member 3 School

Education

Committee Member 4

Dr. Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 4 School

Education

Committee Member 5

Dr. Christopher Sirola

Committee Member 5 School

Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Abstract

Modern advancements in industrialization and globalization are thought to be responsible for the present ecological issues facing the world (Sumen, 2016). Many countries, including the United States, emphasize the importance of increasing environmental literacy within the community and schools (Roth, 1992; Scholz, 2011; Sumen, 2016). It has been suggested that environmental education be taught at all educational levels to increase environmental literacy (Sumen, 2016). The implementation of environmental-based experiential education within the traditional curriculum has proven successful for various educational institutions. Therefore, the implementation of environmental-based experiential learning activities in Mississippi educational institutions may contribute to the increase of scientifically literate students prepared to compete for degrees and careers in STEM.

The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of environmentally-based experiential learning activities, on students’ knowledge acquisition, critical thinking, and attitudes toward the environment and career aspirations. The study relied heavily on the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program to accomplish set goals. The study was quantitatively analyzed based on the scores of the Environmental Knowledge Assessment, Cornell Critical Thinking Test, Children’s Environmental Attitude and Knowledge Scale (CHEAKS) Survey, and Career Aspirations Survey. A mixed model analysis of variance (ANOVA) design was used during this study to compare the differences in gain scores of the students who experienced the environmentally-based experiential learning activities during instruction and the student who only experienced traditional instruction. It was determined that the incorporation of environmentally-based experiential learning activities supported by GLOBE activities and Kolb’s experiential learning model exercises proved to play a significant role increasing student knowledge acquisition and critical thinking skills. However, these activities did not prove to be effective in improving students’ attitude toward the environment to consider being more involved in the environmental sustainability or improving students’ career aspirations towards a career in STEM.

Available for download on Sunday, May 10, 2020

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