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Environmental literacy

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Title:
Environmental literacy transformation of students into environmentally knowledgable and conscious citizens in ENVS 1042
Creator:
Steiner, Erin Rebecca
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English
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x, 98 leaves : ; 28 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Environmental literacy -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Environmental education -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Environmental education ( fast )
Environmental literacy ( fast )
Colorado -- Denver ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 95-98).
General Note:
Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences
Statement of Responsibility:
by Erin Rebecca Steiner.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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657077437 ( OCLC )
ocn657077437
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LD1193.L547 2010m S73 ( lcc )

Full Text
/
ENVIRONMENTAL LITERACY: TRANSFORMATION OF STUDENTS INTO
ENVIRONMENTALLY KNOWLEDGEABLE AND CONSCIOUS CITIZENS IN
ENVS 1042
by
Erin Rebecca Steiner
B.S., Cleveland State University, 2007
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Masters of Science
Environmental Science
2010


This thesis for the Masters of Science
degree by
Erin Rebecca Steiner
has been approved by
H- it) to
Date


Steiner, Erin Rebecca (M.S., Environmental Science)
Environmental Literacy: Transformation of students into environmentally
knowledgeable and conscious citizens in ENVS 1042
Thesis directed by Bryan Shao-Chang Wee
ABSTRACT
Environmental education is a growing field that focuses on educating
individuals about the importance of environmental interactions and consequences.
Environmental literacy is essential if we wish to achieve a society that can make
environmentally conscious decisions. Currently Americans are experiencing low
levels of environmental literacy (Dunlap and VanLiere, 2000 & Coyle, 2005). Many
Americans cannot pass a basic survey on environmental issues (Coyle, 2005) and
their consciousness about the environment and environmental interactions is low
(Dunlap and VanLiere, 2000).
Defining what environmental literacy is can be difficult. Many researchers
have focused on two aspects that make up environmental literacy. These aspects are
environmental knowledge (facts about the environment) and environmental
consciousness (a set of personal values about the environment) which imply an
interrelatedness of human-environment relationships. In a one-year long study
students that were enrolled in an introductory environmental science class (ENVS
1042 at The University of Colorado Denver) were assessed to ascertain whether or
not they made gains in environmental knowledge and environmental consciousness.
These gains were assessed using the NEETF/Roper Survey and the New Ecological


Paradigm Scale (NEP). Students that participated in the research showed gains in
both environmental knowledge and environmental consciousness after participation in
the semester long Introduction to Environmental Science course.
Student participation in an introductory environmental science course may
help to promote environmental literacy. Subsequent research should focus not only on
environmental knowledge and consciousness gains, but how these two aspects of
environmental literacy promote environmental actions.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication
Signed
Bryan ShacEChang Wee


DEDICATION
This thesis is dedicated to my parents for always making me go outside and explore
the wonders of nature and the imagination it can inspire.
To Kevin, my best-friend and soul mate, your encouragement and support have
driven me to accomplish all that I have in Colorado.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT
I would like to thank Dr. Bryan Wee, my advisor. He has played an instrumental role
in shaping what science and education means in my life. Thank you to my committee
members, Dr. Bryan Wee. Dr, Jon Barbour and Dr. Laurel Hartley. Your feedback
and input were essential to the completion of this document. Additional support came
from Austine Luce and her influential ideas about environmental education and the
shaping of ENVS 1G42. Support also came from Jolene Dickerson for the reciprocal
support through the last semesters of graduate school.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Figures................................................................viii
Tables...................................................................ix
Chapter
1. Introduction.........................................................1
2. Introduction to Literature Review....................................6
2.1 Environmental Knowledge..............................................9
2.2 Environmental Consciousness.........................................10
2.3 Environmental Literacy..............................................13
3. Research Context....................................................16
4. Methods.............................................................28
4.1 Data Collection.....................................................28
4.2 Quantitative Data Analysis..........................................29
4.3 Qualitative Data Analysis...........................................32
5. Results and Discussion..............................................34
5.1 Do students gain environmental knowledge and environmental ..........
consciousness in ENVS 1042?......................................34
5.2 Is there a correlation between environmental knowledge and environmental
consciousness?......................................................48
5.3 What other factors besides coursework in school affect environmental.
literacy? (Demographic data).....................................50
5.4 How is environmental literacy constructed in ENVS 1042?.............51
6. Conclusions and Recommendations.....................................60
7. A letter to future teaching assistants of ENVS 1042.................63
Appendix
A. Surveys.............................................................66
B. Interviews..........................................................73
C. Student exploration examples........................................83
D. IRB approval letter.................................................87
E. Supplementary data tables...........................................89
Bibliography ............................................................95
vii


FIGURES
Figure
5.1 Comparison of Pre and Post raw scores for the NEETF/Roper Survey.37
5.2 (Comparison of Pre and Post raw scores for the NEP Survey........40
viii


TABLES
Table
2.1 Facets of the New Ecological Paradigm Scale (Dunalp & VanLiere, 2000)12
3.1 Comparative analysis of lab curriculum before and after modifications.21
5.1 ENVS 1042 Knowledge Survey Results (NEETF/Roper Survey) shown by
percent.........................................................35
5.2 The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEETF/Roper Scores to Post
NEETF/Roper Scores..............................................38
5.3 NEETF/Roper Survey Results 1997-2000 (Coyle, 2005)..............39
5.4 The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEP Scores to Post NEP Scores41
5.5 Environmental Consciousness (NEP) Pre-Survey (post-survey) Scores by
Percent.........................................................43
5.6 The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEP and Post NEP: Limits to
growth facet....................................................46
5.7 The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEP and Post NEP: Fragility of
Nature facet....................................................46
5.8 Regression analysis on dependent variable preNEETF/Roper score on
independent variable NEP score.)................................49
5.9 Regression analysis on dependent variable pre NEP score on independent
variable pre NEETF/Roper score..................................49
A. 1 NEETF/Roper Survey- Correct Multiple Choice Answers.............71
E. 1 Demographic Raw Data............................................89
E.2 Means Procedure on demographic data and pre and post NEETF/Roper and
NEP scores......................................................89
E.3 Regression of pre NEETF/Roper scores and demographic data.......90
E.4 Regression of post NEETF/Roper scores and demographic data......90
E.5 Regression of pre NEP scores and demographic data...............91
E.6 Regression of post NEP scores and demographic data..............91
E.7 The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEP and Post NEP:.........
Anthropocentrism facet..........................................92
E.8 The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEP and Post NEP: Rejection of
Exemptonalism facet.............................................92
E.9 Title The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEP and Post NEP:
Possibility of an Ecocrisis facet...............................93
E.10 Means Procedure for the environmental facets of the NEP survey..93
IX


Table E.l 1 The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEETF/Roper score
percentage by question number and Post NPfeTF/Rojter percentage by
question number..................................................94


1. Introduction
We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children
-Native American Proverb
Literacy is defined as having knowledge or skill in a specified field, and
represents an important foundation for individual and societal decision-making
(Coyle, 2005). In educational terms, literacy is composed of two primary
components: reading and writing. Viewed from this perspective, literacy rates in the
U.S. have improved over time (Orr, 2002). Yet despite these gains, many individuals
in the U.S. remain environmentally illiterate (Coyle, 2005, Dunlap and Van Liere,
2000 and Dunlap, 2008). It is important to point out that environment itself is defined
as the interconnectedness between the human and natural worlds (USEPA, 2004 and
Moran, 2006). In a nation-wide survey conducted by the National Environmental
Education and Training Foundation (NEETF), in 1997 and 2000, found among other
things that:
45 million Americans think the ocean is a source of freshwater
120 million Americans think spray cans still have CFCs in them even though
CFCs were banned in 1978
130 million Americans believe that hydropower is the primary energy source
in the U.S., when it accounts for just 10% of total energy output (Coyle, 2005)
In other words, while the U.S. citizenry might be well versed in reading and writing
(literacy), they lack an understanding of human-environment interactions and in
particular, their connections to the world around them (environmental literacy).
Environmentally literate individuals are people with knowledge about the
environment, conscious about the environmental consequences of their actions, and
make informed decisions about resource use (Coyle, 2005 and NSF, 2009).
Environmental literacy in the context of this research has two components:
1


knowledge (facts about the environment) and consciousness (a set of personal values
about the environment). It implies a holistic conceptualization of human-environment
relationships. This idea is perpetuated by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In
2000, the NSF established the Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and
Education (AC-ERE) under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). This
committee attempts to intertwine environmental issues and education. From these
committees a definition of environmental literacy emerges as:
.. .a higher level of environmental literacy is essential if we expect
to persuade the general public to adopt behaviors that will help solve
environmental problems. An environmental literacy framework grounded
in basic concepts that integrate disciplines into a holistic perspective of
Earths natural and human systems should be developed for K-20
education and beyond. (NSF, 2009, pg. 11)
Environmental literacy is a key component for societies to attain because
almost all decisions an individual, as well as a society, make can be related back to
the environment. There is an inherent interconnectedness between humans, action, the
environment and its responses. For example, an environmentally literate individual
understands that bottled water requires energy (largely from coal-fired power plants)
and raw materials to construct/recycle the bottle. This could be considered the
knowledge portion of environmental literacy in this study. This person is also aware
of the impact of bottled water on the environment in the form of air pollution, solid
waste production, and then makes a conscious decision not to purchase a bottle of
water. These ideas are coupled into the consciousness portion of environmental
literacy in this study. In general, it is important for people to develop a knowledge
base and then apply appropriate skills to make better decisions about environmental
challenges, especially regarding human actions/impacts on the environment. In other
words it is paramount to take these ideas one step further and say that individuals
2


should then able to relate decisions, in the context of their everyday lives, and
understand the environmental implications of their actions. The fundamental aspect of
environmental literacy is the ability to see that all things are related and are not
discrete objects.
One of the biggest challenges to environmental literacy is the apparent lack of
connections to what people know about the environment and how they use that
information. Many people gain knowledge about environmental issues from friends,
family, professional and personal experiences, educational arenas, and numerous
media outlets (Coyle, 2005). Mainstream media and the worldwide web have made it
much easier as well as much faster to access information. NEETF/Roper study found
that 83% of children get their information from the media and adults only get their
information from the media (Coyle, 2005). Media outlets, for example, have helped to
make some environmental information more readily available to the general public,
but people often receive only snippets of information (some of which may be
inaccurate) and they lack the skills to use that information in any meaningful way.
There then emerges a relationship between where people get their facts and what
kinds of facts they acquire. This then prompts an environmental knowledge base that
lacks the importance of interconnectedness and relatedness of humans and the
environment together. Therefore, it is important to provide accurate environmental
knowledge as well as the skills to resolve environmental problems, but in ways that
help learners connect these experiences to their everyday lives.
These types of connections are often complex and are learned at a young age,
yet there are concerns that people are not making the connections to the environment
they should be. Nature-Deficit Disorder, a term coined by Richard Louv (2005) in
his book Last Child in the Woods, has had wide spread implications because it is
defining the next generation of children. Louv (2005) points out that children are
3


spending more and more time indoors due to increased urbanization, parental
concerns about safety, and it is leading to many behavioral problems, including a
disconnect with the environment. These problems are also apparent in adults, who
lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles in urban and/or suburban areas, and as a result
are becoming disconnected, from nature and the environment. These concepts can
then be correlated back to the importance of developing a more environmentally
literate society. These children are the next generation that will be making important
decisions regarding the environment; this can be visualized as the importance of
individuals having the environmental knowledge and consciousness to elect
individuals that have more environmentally conscious view themselves and that, in
turn, can translate to passing important environmental legislation.
The presence of content and teaching standards at the K-12 level that
emphasize math, reading and writing over science using prescribed curriculum and
instruction presents numerous obstacles to the cultivation of environmental literacy in
children. In contrast, even college students who are not in science disciplines are
required to take science courses as part of their graduation requirements. This
presents unique opportunities to develop environmental literacy in adult learners,
especially in science labs where there is more flexibility in content and instructional
approaches.
Given the increasing importance of environmental literacy in a changing
world, the focus of this study is to determine if an introductory environmental science
class for undergraduates (ENVS 1042) improves environmental literacy. This study
looks at both environmental knowledge and consciousness. There were 4 specific
research questions posed to be addressed during this research. Research questions Ri-
R3 address data that will be analyzed quantitatively from the pre and post surveys.
These research questions look at environmental knowledge gains, environmental
4


consciousness gains as well as the correlations between environmental knowledge
and consciousness. Research question R4 will be analyzed using qualitative data from
the interview sessions. Due to the small sample size of interviewees (n=3), research
question 4 has three sub categories that help to address where student shape their
ideas about the environment. The specific research questions analyzed during this
research are as follows:
Ri Do students gain environmental knowledge and environmental
consciousness inENVS 1042?
R2 Is there a correlation between environmental knowledge and
environmental consciousness?
R3 What other factors besides coursework in school affect environmental
literacy? (Demographic data)
R4 How is environmental literacy constructed in ENVS 1042?
Where do most students get most of their environmental knowledge
while taking ENVS 1042 (lecture, lab, book)?
Does content in the lab portion of ENVS 1042 matter for environmental
literacy gains?
Where do students learn most of their skills to make informed decisions
about the environment in ENVS 1042?
5


2. Introduction to Literature Review
All students [must] have access to supportive, excellent undergraduate
education in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology ... Americas
institutions of higher education must expect all students to learn more SME&T, must
no longer see study in these fields solely as narrow preparation for one specialized
career, but must accept them as important to every student.
National Science Foundation [NSF], 1996, pg. ii
When the environmental movement began in the 1960s, due to highly
publicized environmental disasters such as Love Canal in upstate New York and the
infamous Cuyahoga River catching fire, environmental literacy was not foremost in
the minds of the general public. Individuals like Charles E. Roth and Rachel Carson,
to name a few, were the pioneers in the environmental education movement in the
1960s. Charles E. Roth was an environmental education advocate in Massachusetts
stating that environmental literacy is essentially the capacity to perceive and
interpret the relative health of environmental systems and take appropriate action to
maintain, restore, or improve the health of those systems (Roth, 1992). He was one
of the first pioneers that actually defined and advocated for environmental literacy.
Rachel Carson was one of the first individuals that connected environmental
degradation, specifically DDTs effects on birds, and then linked it to human health in
her famous book Silent Spring (1962). Rachel Carson indirectly became an advocate
for environmental literacy, as she attempted to reach individuals about how humans
are infinitely connected to the natural world around them. She connected the ideas
that pesticide use was affecting birds in adverse ways and then conveyed how
pesticide use affected human health as well which was a relatively new perspective at
the time.
6


After countless environmental disasters and the Environmental movement
moving into the forefront of society a series of events took place to help solidify
environmental literacy in our country. In 1970, President Richard Nixon passed the
National Environmental Education Act. This act initially was a starting point for the
intertwining of environmental literacy and science education. From that point on there
was an insurgence of new environmental advocacy proponents as well as
environmental laws passed like the Clean Air Act (1972) and the Clean Water Act
(1972) to help protect human health and the environment. The numerous individuals
involved with environmental issues were only the stepping stones to the beginning of
environmental literacy and its advocacy.
Since the birth of what was coined Environmental Literacy there have been
numerous definitions of what it means to actually be an environmentally literate
individual. One definition was given by William B. Stapp (1969) who defined an
environmentally literate citizen as knowledgeable concerning the biophysical
environment and its associated problems, aware of how to help solve these problems,
and motivated to work toward their solution (pg. 30). Later the 1990 National
Environmental Education Act that outlined what environmental education means and
how to achieve it in K-12 education. The ERIC development team summarized this
act as a mechanism for Environmental Quality as their priority, and they see
education as a mechanism for promoting it (Roth, 1992). Charles E. Roths (1992)
definition of environmental literacy adds that, ... in terms of observable behaviors,
people should be able to demonstrate in some observable form what they have
learned (pg. 3). Next were David Orrs ideas about the environment. These ideas
summarized by David Quammen point out that ecological literacy entails an
awareness of the interconnections among all elements of the natural systems, and a
readiness on wonder about the reverberating consequences of disruption, including
7


the disruptions caused by human decisions and acts (Quammen, 1994, pg.38). There
have been numerous definitions of what environmental literacy means in different
contexts, and this is just a small sample of what the definition of environmental
literacy could be. The main point to be taken away from these different definitions of
environmental literacy is that knowledge is the key to consciousness; environmental
action is the ultimate goal of the combination of knowledge and consciousness. For
the purpose of this research environmental literacy is defined as knowledge (facts
about the environment) and consciousness (a set of personal values about the
environment) which implies an interrelatedness of human-environment relationships.
Achieving environmental literacy is not necessarily a linear process. Many
individuals have differing views about the environment and what it means to them.
These types of views can be shaped early in life or by events that occur throughout
ones life. The key to literacy is to keep the learning process going.
There were two studies that were the focus for developing this thesis
research; the NEETF/Roper Survey (Coyle, 2005) and The New Ecological Paradigm
Scale (NEP) (Dunlap and Van Liere, 2000). The NEETF/Roper Survey looks at the
knowledge aspect of environmental literacy. The Research done by Dunlap and Van
Liere (NEP) over the past 20 years focuses more on the environmental consciousness
side of environmental literacy. For the purposes of this study, these surveys were used
to explore and assess both the knowledge (NEETF/Roper Survey) and the
consciousness components (NEP) of environmental literacy in undergraduates
enrolled in an environmental science class (ENVS 1042).
8


2.1 Environmental Knowledge
Environmental Knowledge has been gauged in many ways. It can be defined
as knowing facts about the environment and basic environmental processes and
correlating outcomes. There have been numerous surveys that have attempted to
assess environmental knowledge (Aucury, 1990, Coyle, 2005, Bruyere, 2008,
Wright,2008) and each of these studies have different outcomes. The survey done by
The National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (NEETF) was chosen
as the knowledge assessment tool for this research on environmental literacy of
students in ENVS 1042 because of its population ( it initially focused on adults) and
prior use at the college level (Wee, personal communication).
The National Environmental Education & Training Foundation put together a
short 12 question survey that would assess the basic knowledge of Americans. This
survey was conducted as a cross-sectional survey of 1,500 adults that were 18 years
and older (Coyle, 2005). This research was done by random telephone interviews of
adults in the United States (Coyle, 2005). They state that the results may be
projected to the entire adult population of the continental United States who would be
willing to be interviewed in a telephone study of this kind (Coyle, 2005, pg. 100).
The main goal of this research study was to find out what Americans knew
about the environment. The questions they were asked were basic questions that
pertained to environmental pollution of land, water and air, resource use, as well as
human implications on ecosystems. The full survey can be found in Appendix A.
They found that about 80% of Americans are heavily influenced by incorrect or
outdated environmental myths (Coyle, 2005, pg.vii) and just 12% of Americans can
pass a basic quiz on awareness of energy topics (Coyle, 2005, pg.vii). The
NEETF/Roper also found that in 1997 two-thirds of adults were unable to pass the
quiz; just one in 10 could answer 11 of 12 questions correctly (Coyle, 2005, pg.3).
9


Finally the NEETF/Roper team asked adults and children a range of questions
in regards to the environment and they found that fully 82% of adults say they are
interested in the environment, as compared to just 55% of children (although 75% of
children say they are interested in nature and animals) (Coyle, 2005, pg. 9-10).
These types of statistics about the general publics knowledge about the environment
are concerning. If individuals cannot answer simple questions about where there
energy comes from or even where their water comes from how can they make
important decisions about how they can impact the environment during their daily
lives?
2.2 Environmental Consciousness
There are many different instruments that have been used to quantitatively
analyze environmental consciousness. Many of these instruments have evolved and
have been designed around the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) that was originally
developed by Riley E. Dunlap and Kent D. Van Liere (1978). Dunlap and Van Liere
ideas imply that implicit within environmentalism was a challenge to our
fundamental views about nature and humans relationship to it (2000, pg.427).
Since its inception it has became the most widely used assessment tool for
environmental consciousness (Dunlap et al., 2000, Cordano et ah, 2003 and Rideout,
2005, Bruyere, 2008, Wright, 2008)
Dunlap & Van Liere (1978) over the years have developed an instrument to
survey peoples basic views about the environment. These ideas have taken form as
the New Ecological Paradigm. They suggest that we need to move away from what is
called a dominant social paradigm (DSP). The DSP is specifically defined as a
worldview through which individuals or, collectively, a society interprets the
meaning of the external world... (and)... a mental image of social reality that guides
10


expectations in a society (Dunlap and Van Li ere, 1978, pg. 19). In other words the
DSP can be characterized by a lack of adequate knowledge and relationships between
humans and nature (Dunlap and Van Liere, 1978). There is an inherent connection
between knowledge and ecological worldview (environmental consciousness). In
contrast, the NEP focused on beliefs about humanitys ability to upset the balance of
nature, the existence of limits to growth for human societies, and humanitys right to
rule over the rest of nature (Dunlap and Van Liere, 2000, pg 427) and subsequently
measured how society held those beliefs. To summarize, Dunlap and Van Liere were
hoping to see a paradigm shift between a dominant social worldview to a more pro-
ecological/environmental worldview.
The initial NEP survey had 12 Likert- type questions that analyzed
environmental attitudes on pollution, population or national resources (Dunlap and
Van Liere, 1978). Participants were asked to answer questions with the responses
Strongly Agree, Mildly Agree, Unsure, Mildly Disagree, and Strongly
Disagree (Dunlap and Van Liere, 1978). Since the initial instrument was developed
there have been 3 more questions added to the NEP as well as modifications of
verbiage of the questions. The modified NEP with 15-Likert type questions was used
in this research. This entire survey can be found in Appendix A. The total possible
points an individual could receive on this survey was 75. The closer your score is to
75 the more pro-ecological/environmental and individual is said to be.
The questions on the 15 question NEP scale can be categorized into 5 facets
regarding the environment. Each facet contains 3 questions can that describe specific
elements of a view toward the environment. The 5 facets are described in Table 2.1
along with the corresponding question numbers. These facets are an important
component of environmental consciousness because they break the broad concepts of
environmental consciousness into distinct subgroups (or categories) for further
11


analysis. These facets may play a role in understanding why individuals make, or do
not make, decisions regarding the environment.
Table 2.1 Facets of the New Ecological Paradigm Scale (Dunalp & Van Liere, 2000)
Facets of the NEP Scale Explanation Question Numbers
Limits to growth Ideas that revolve around the idea that there are limited resources and limited room on Earth 1,6 & 11
Anthropocentri sm The idea humans are the most important entity in the universe 2,7 & 12
Fragility of Nature The notion that nature is fragile and interconnected. Nature can be easily disturbed 3,8 & 13
Rejection of Exemptonalism The rejection of the idea that humans are above the constraints of nature 4,9& 14
Possibility of an Ecocrisis Beliefs that stem from ideas that if we are not careful there may be an ecocrisis on the horizon 5, 10 & 15
12


2.3 Environmental Literacy
Beyond testing for environmental knowledge and environmental
consciousness changes there have been several studies that focus specifically on
environmental literacy gains. Recent studies by Bruyere (2008) and Wright (2008)
adopted several different methods to determine whether or not students were making
gains in environmental literacy after participation in environmental education courses.
These two studies used both the NEETF/Roper survey as well as the NEP surveys to
assess either one or both components (knowledge and consciousness) of
environmental literacy in college-aged students, and parallels the research approach
in this thesis.
In 2008, Bruyere conducted a study on undergraduates from multiple
disciplines at Colorado State University. The aim of this study was to determine if
attitude, knowledge and behavior could be correlated to participation in an
environmental education program (Bruyere, 2008). There were 5 main hypotheses
posed in this research but hypothesis 4 and 5 are of considerable interest. Hypothesis
4 states Attitudes toward environmental behaviors will positively change following
participation in an environmental education program (Bruyere, 2008, pg. 20) and
hypothesis 5 states Environmental behaviors will positively change following
participation in an environmental education program (Bruyere, 2008, pg.20). The
overarching theme of this research was do students make gains in environmental
literacy after taking an environmental education class.
The researched used the New Ecological Paradigm scale developed by Dunlap
and Van Liere (1978) and an additional 18 point Likert-type assessment on more
environmental behaviors (for example students were asked if they recycled, they
could answer with a score of 1 point= never through always= 7 points (Bruyere,
2008). The research found that the attitudes and behaviors of the students that
13


participated in the environmental education classes improved overall. On the
knowledge portion of the survey (NEETF/Roper survey) students made gains of at
least two points or more and most students answered 8 or 9 on the post test which was
out of 9 points (Bruyere, 2008). Finally they ascertained that knowledge gain had an
impact on attitudes toward ... environmental behaviors (Bruyere, 2008, pg. 25).
In 2008, Wright conducted a study looking at the environmental literacy of
post-secondary students that were non-science majors. The main focus of this
research was to determine if there was any difference in environmental literacy gains
between constructivist teaching styles and traditional teaching styles (Wright, 2008).
The author defines constructivist as a teaching style that suggest that learning occurs
best when students use past experience, peer interactions, and/or personalized
constructs to internalize and expand upon their knowledge (Wright, 2008, pg. 325).
In Essence there should be a discourse between students as well as between students and instructors.
This research used a unique instrument that was a composite of several other
instruments that have already been established. The instrument consisted of several
different components and incorporated the NEETF/Roper questions, the New
Ecological Paradigm survey and other components to add to the totality of the survey
(Wright, 2008). This survey consisted of both a pretest and a posttest survey given to
two different groups of students (Wright, 2008). One group of students participated in
a traditional classroom and the experimental group of students participated in the
constructivist style classroom (Wright, 2008). Students results from both the control
group (traditional teaching) and the experimental group (constructivist) were then
assessed (Wright, 2008).
Over all the research showed that there was little to no difference between the
control group and the experimental group in regards to differences in gains in
environmental literacy (Wright, 2008). The research also showed that no
14


demographic group that was looked at (age, gender and ethnicity) had any significant
difference in gains over another group (Wright, 2008). The final outcome of the
research was that all students that participated in an environmental education course
did make gains in environmental knowledge as well as environmental consciousness.
This is an important point to make because, although the research was attempting to
find out if constructivist teaching had more of an impact then traditional teaching, all
students made environmental literacy gains after taking an environmental education
course.
To summarize both Bruyere (2008) and Wright (2008) demonstrate that even
small amounts of environmental education can have significant impacts on
environmental literacy. Students had gains in environmental knowledge as well as
environmental consciousness even though different instructional styles were applied.
Student gains were also not correlated to demographics, meaning that all students
made gains and that no single group benefitted more from environmental education.
15


3. Research Context
Acts of conservation without the requisite desires and skill are futile. To create these
desires and skills, and the community motive, is the task of education.
-Aldo Leopold
The study of environmental science is in essence the study of biology,
chemistry, geology, mathematics, statistics, economics, anthropology, psychology
and education, to name just a few disciplines. Each of these different disciplines is
interwoven in a complex web that helps to describe an environmental issue. Thus,
environmental science could be called a critical thinking science. All actions in the
environment have resulting reactions, both positive and negative. Environmental
science subscribes to the notion that nothing is discrete, nothing exists in isolation,
everything is acting and acted upon, and that understanding these webs of
connections is a critical component of environmental literacy. Environmental literacy
is derived from knowledge about the environment and its complex interactions, which
leads to more environmentally conscious individuals; individuals that make rational
choices based on knowledge about environmental processes.
Introduction to Environmental Science (ENVS 1042) is an undergraduate
course at The University of Colorado Denver (UCD). This four-credit course is
offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of Geography
& Environmental Sciences, and is comprised of both a lecture component and a
laboratory. ENVS 1042 is structured in such a way that it attracts students from all
undergraduate majors at UCD. For example, it is one of several lecture/ lab classes
that students can take as a general education requirement; they must take 7-10 hours
of Natural Science credits and one of the classes must have a laboratory component.
Consequently, ENVS 1042 often attracts individuals with little to no science
16


background and attracts numerous students. Most of the students in this course may
never step foot in a science class again. Given the low levels of environmental
literacy in the U.S. population (Coyle, 2005), it is important to determine if these
students are gaining the skills they need to build their environmental knowledge and
environmental consciousness.
Many students tend to choose this environmental science course over other
science courses because they perceive it as somewhat easier then biology, chemistry
or physics. For example students during the interviews (Appendix B) said in response
to this question: What was the role of the lab for both of you in terms of overall
learning in the course? What role did the lab experience play?
Student B- It was more of a hands on experience and thats where I think that
the critical thinking class came in, we were actually interacting and having to
think beyond what was being, beyond the material that was presented.
Student A- Yeah, well I actually liked how in our lab with Instructor B, she
um didnt make it hard, but she made it fun. She made us all go around and do
things and say things on a particular topic or when we went outside and we
collected leaves or we did this or we did that and the journal we kept so, it was
very interesting and it didnt and it wasnt pressure, oh this is lab., because
most of the people had the lab. So I actually loved this lab compared to
biology lab where I was stressing out. And I was just like oh my goodness. I
didn't know how Im going to pass this lab, and you know it was just hard and
this one was fun.
Interviewer 1 Do you feel like you learned more by being more active and
kind-of not such a structured lab?
Student B- yeah
Student A- yeah, I think everyone hates those labs when its just you know the
questions and you have to go by but you didnt really learn
17


Another important aspect of ENVS 1042 is that most of the students that
enroll in this class tend to be students pursuing non-science degrees such as business,
communication and education. Because of compounding factors, ENVS 1042 tends to
be one of the last science classes that students take before they leave college as
addressed above. In other words, while they might not have much science
background, students have developed the ability (at varying levels) to work
independently, engage in critical thought and discussions relative to students in the
first/second year of college.
This lab had historically mimicked all other types of science laboratories in
higher education. They were supplementary to the lecture and followed strict protocol
on procedures. ENVS 1042 reflected the current science paradigm in that it followed
the scientific methodological structure (Kuhn, 1962). For example, a lab called
Solar Influx and the Behavior of Air had students perform simple experiments like
dropping a filled balloon into liquid nitrogen and observing what happened. The new
lab structure uses current environmental topics and data and has the students draw
conclusions based on different types of observations. With this type of learning
environment many labs tend to be designed in such a way that some answers still
remain on the connection between content knowledge, such as facts and statistics, and
real world applications.
ENVS 1042 in many ways was a traditional lab setting before the curriculum
changes. Wright in 2008 discusses traditional learning scenarios as lecture-based
teaching methods (pg. 325). The students get the information from the teacher, in the
case of the lab the teaching assistant (TA), and students and have little interaction
with the rest of their peers in the classroom. Students in ENVS 1042 would listen to
the lecture by the teaching assistant (in some cases no lecture at all) and then perform
the lab. There was some interaction between students at each of the tables in the
18


room, but almost no interaction outside of table groups. Teaching assistants may
come around and help with questions, but mainly just supervised from the front of the
room. After the lab curriculum started to change there was a shift to a more
constructivist type of classroom. Wright (2008) summarizes this type of learning as:
The objective power behind constructivism is rooted in the
groundwork laid by Piaget (1977), Vygotsky (1978), and von Galaserfield
(1989), whose ideals encourage learned to recognize that learning is their
responsibility and teachers understand that a dynamic, student-centered
learning environment is their responsibility. Simply stated, constructivist
philosophy suggest that learning occurs best when students use past
experiences, peer interactions, and/or personalized constructs to internalize
and expand upon their knowledge (pg. 325)
These ideas of using peer interactions as well as personal experiences in the
classroom drove many of the changes in the classroom. ENVS 1042 tends to be a
very culturally rich classroom with students from all over the world and from
different disciplines, backgrounds etc., and when these students can interact as a
whole, the learning process can blossom. Students can learn more from one another,
rather then by a single TA teaching them a linear/one-sided lecture.
After teaching this lab for the first time, I felt there was a lack of connections;
between the lab, the lecture and environmental science. Students in ENVS 1042 were
missing the connections that needed to be made between environmental science and
the significance of their actions on the environment. In short, there was an absence of
human-environment connections. These interrelationships can be achieved by having
a more connected class structure (constructivist based), in particular when students
are able to place the content from lecture and lab in their personal lives. The NSF
(2009) specifically states:
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To address the planet's complex environmental challenges we need to
develop a new environmental literacy framework. Environmental science is
interdisciplinary and our education system should reflect this. Rather than
recommending another set of education standards to compete with existing
standards we propose the development of a unified framework showing paths
through a traditional programs or curricula that would lead to greater levels of
environmental literacy (p.41).
This is an important aspect of what environmental science means not only for the
individuals that are enrolled in ENVS 1042 at UCD, but for future generations that
will have to solve many of the environmental problems that we will face today and in
the future. Environmental science should not be a discrete subject, but an
interdisciplinary one; leading to increased environmental knowledge, environmental
consciousness and ultimately environmentally literate individuals.
Following my first semester as a lab instructor, I decided to revise the labs to
emphasize environmental literacy. My desire was to establish connections for
students and that is what drove the changes in the ENVS 1042 lab curriculum. I also
hoped to make science more accessible to all students. In particular Bianchini et
al.(2000), state that:
in recent years, scientists, science educators, and scholars of science have
called for the development of a more inclusive undergraduate science
education, one that makes science interesting, understandable, and relevant to
all students, particularly to those traditionally positioned on the periphery of
college science (pg. 43).
These first steps toward change were to make the subjects discussed increasingly
relevant to the students lives (now) as well as connecting what they were learning in
lecture, what they were seeing in the media. Table 3.1 below summarizes what the
original labs were and what they were subsequently replaced with.
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Table 3.1. Comparative analysis of lab curriculum before and after modifications
Original Lab Replaced Lab Description
The Scientific Method- This lab focused on how the scientific method works. What was the example the original lab used to demonstrate the scientific method? Carrying Capacity- This lab focuses on current data about water resources, human population, food resources etc. The original lab only focused on the scientific method and not the connections to why this process is important to science. The replaced lab uses current data and makes students explore population dynamics how different environmental issues directly affect them. Students are also required to complete an online ecological footprint survey
Electromagnetic Radiation- This lab looked at different wavelengths of light that originate from the sun. Students were asked to look at different types of light and draw what colors of the rainbow were seen in the spectrometer. Greenhouse Gases- This lab uses current data on Carbon Dioxide emissions from all the countries in the world and describes how Carbon Dioxide plays a role in climate change Electromagnetic Radiation is a important topic that could relate back to climate change, but in the original lab there were none of these connections visible. The new lab talks about EMR and Carbon dioxide and how students can take steps in their lives to reduce their carbon footprint.
21


Table 3.1. (Cont)
Original Lab Replaced Lab Description
Population Density and Biomass- The goal of this lab was to help students understand tropic levels, energy transfer, productivity, population density and how all organisms in one ecosystem are connected Using Local Bioindicators to Investigate Ozone Pollution- This lab looks at ozone damage on Aspen leaves in the Denver, Aurora and Boulder areas Students now investigate ozone pollution in the Denver area instead of population densities. This lab is important for most students because ground level ozone is a major problem in the front range of Colorado. Students can see that although ozone is not visible, there are other organisms that can help tell when an ecosystem is stressed. Specifically Aspen leaves exhibit chlorosis when exposed to small amounts of troposphereic ozone
22


Table 3.1. (Cont)
Original Lab Replaced Lab Description
Population Dynamics and Awareness and Research- This lab focused on population dynamics of both animals and humans. Students were supposed to research one topic and then present it as a group to the rest of the lab A student based research project on any environmental topic of their choice. Students are encouraged to choose broad topics because these presentations are done in small groups. The original lab was quite abstract for most students, and the connections between humans and the environment was lacking. With these group presentations students can choose environmental issues that they are interested in and that affect them directly. These projects are similar to the individual projects in that they focus on environmental topics that are of interest to the students rather than chosen topics.
23


Table 3.1. (Cont)
Original Lab Replaced Lab Description
Phosphorous and Water Pollution This lab has remained relatively the same. The week before this lab there is a physical assessment of a stream lab (QHEI- Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index) The QHEI goes through several different matrixes to characterize whether or not streams will be good at supporting life. Students perform a QHEI on an urban stream and then discuss how this stream is different from wild streams that are not surrounded by Urban areas. Students first learn about the physical features of streams (QHEI) and how they affect life inside the stream. We then move onto chemical pollution (phosphates) and then the week after we look at other forms of chemical water pollution (endocrine disrupting compounds). Students can then connect all the different aspect of water and see how they are all connected and important. The delicate balance to support life is not a trivial subject.
Environmental Impacts and Health Risk Assessments- The purpose of this lab as to help students to understand environmental disasters and the potential for future ones This lab has remained the same but students are now required to watch a video on the impacts of Atrazine on frogs as well as humans. The video and added lab questions help to connect the lab (where students do dilutions and toxicity tests) students are performing and actual real life examples of this different test from the video.
24


Table 3.1. (Cont)
Original Lab Replaced Lab Description
No previous lab Field Trip Students get to go to various places around the Denver Metro Area and see what they have learned in action. Historically students either go to Denver Metro Waste Water Treatment Plant or Denver Water Recycle. These field trips help to solidify almost all of the labs that were discussed throughout the semester
No previous lab Individual Proj ect/Exploration This project varies by the instructor, but most students have to pick some environmental topic that they are interested in and present it to the class. Students have done investigations, journals, poems, experiments, movie reviews and other types of research. This lab is designed so that students can investigate something they are interested and then present it to the class in a short and concise way. See Appendix C for examples.
25


To summarize, most of the labs in ENVS 1042 were changed in the hope that
students would make more connections to what they are learning in both the lecture
portion of the class and the lab. The new labs still have somewhat of a laboratory
structure, but mimic a recitation type lab where students discuss the topics being
presented. These labs have moved away from a traditional setting and moved more
toward a constructivist type of classroom. Thus, these labs leave more room for
interpretation by the students and the teaching assistants. Topics that are related to the
subject of a particular lab can also be brought up to broaden the scope of what
students are learning. For example if the lab of the day was related to Garbage,
students will discuss not only the topic of garbage, but possible connections to
shopping at the grocery store and the idea of buying a refillable water bottle instead
of buying plastic ones on a daily basis.
Unfortunately no data was collected on students environmental literacy
before/after completing the original labs hence it is impossible to compare the impact
of these curriculum changes on student learning. However, it is still important to
understand how the labs that have been replaced are influencing students
environmental literacy and to use these findings to inform curriculum and instruction
for the future.
This introductory lab course is one that is in constant flux. Teaching assistants
are able to bring in topics that they wish to discuss and incorporate their expertise and
on particular topics as well. The most positive aspects about this constant change in
the ENVS 1042 lab curriculum is that it mimics the nature of science. Science is not a
stagnant entity either, but one that is constantly changing (a good example is the
debate about Climate Change). The ability to change labs as they relate to current
environmental issues will hopefully increase environmental knowledge as well as
environmental consciousness. Overall, if students can make connections to what they
26


learn in lecture and lab then relate those concepts and ideas back to their daily lives,
they will leave ENVS 1042 more environmentally literate citizens.
27


4. Methods
We mistake narrowness for rigor, but actually we are not rigorous enough. To
acknowledge our collective capacity is to take the concept of variability [in methods]
seriously. Not as a neat binary distinction or as slots along a simplified cognitive
continuum, but as a bountiful and layered field, where many processes and domains
of knowledge interact."
- Mike Rose, Why School?
4.1 Data Collection
There were 182 students enrolled in ENVS 1042 during fall semester of 2009.
Early in the semester (Week 1) the entire class was recruited to participate in this
research study. In other words, the survey was completed prior to any lectures or labs
on environmental science. The students were informed that their participation in this
research was completely voluntary and would not impact their grade in the class in
any way. Students were then asked to sign consent forms that would insure
confidentiality as well as participation in the research. They were then asked to
complete an initial survey. The survey in its entirety can be found in Appendix A.
At the end of the semester, (Week 15) students were asked to complete the
same survey again. This took place at the end of the semester after almost all course
work was completed except the final examination. Of the 182 students that were
enrolled in ENVS 1042 only 43 individuals completed consent forms and both pre
and post surveys (approximately a 24% response rate).
After data analysis in early 2010 students were invited to participate in a
follow-up interview session that would help to answer questions about environmental
issues and ideas that were not directly addressed on the surveys. Of the 43 individuals
that participated in the completion of the surveys 3 students participated in oral
interviews. These interviews were recorded and transcribed and can be found in
Appendix B.
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Students enrolled in Introduction to Environmental Science (ENVS 1042) at
the University of Colorado were the subject population for this research. The Human
Subjects Research Committee (HSRC) for the University of Colorado Denver
requires that all research that involves human subjects go through an Institutional
Review Board (IRB) panel review. All elements needed for this research to be
conducted were approved (HSRN # 09-0741) prior to data collection and analyses.
The approved items include, but are not limited to consent form approval, recruitment
script approval, application approval and protocol approval. The final IRB approval
letter is located in Appendix D.
4.2 Quantitative Data Analysis
The first steps in data analysis were to score each of the students pre and post
surveys. Students got a score out of a total of 12 points for the NEETF/Roper portion
of the survey. These were multiple-choice questions and were scored as either correct
or incorrect (0=incorrect & l=correct). The NEP survey questions consist of 15
Likert-type questions (Dunlap and Van Liere, 2000). Each of the questions was
answered with students choosing either one of the following responses to the
questions: Strongly Agree, Mildly Agree, Unsure, Mildly Disagree and
Strongly Disagree. Each of these questions is related to different ideas about the
environment, or environmental facets, and are categorized in Table 2.1. Odd
numbered questions that were answered with strongly agree (=5 points) were seen
as pro-ecological whereas answers of strongly disagree (=1 point) on odd numbered
questions was viewed as not being pro-ecological. Even numbered questions that
were answered with strongly disagree (=5 points) were scored as pro-ecological
whereas strongly agree (=1 point) was viewed as not pro-ecological. Mildly
Agree, Unsure and Mildly Disagree made up point values of 2, 3 or 4 depending
29


on if the question was odd or even. Therefore, a maximum score of 75 points across
all 15 questions reflected a very pro-ecological perspective.
Students demographic data was also analyzed for this research (age range,
gender, race, year in school and their college major). Students ages were categorized
into several categories (1= 18-21, 2=22-25, 3=26-30 and 4=31-35) that they identified
themselves while taking the survey. Students gender was categorized into male and
female. Students were given the option to identify themselves as a specific
race/ethnicity. Survey participants also chose what year in college they were
(freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or other). Overall most student data was
categorical. Finally students majors were grouped into science and non-science
majors. Science majors were viewed as Biology, Environmental Science, Geography
and Pre-Med, all others were categorized as non-science majors. All raw
demographic data can be found in Appendix E, Table E.l.
All data that was collected, pre and post scores, demographic data and pre and
post environmental facet scores, were put into an Excel spreadsheet. The first steps
were to determine descriptive statistics for both the NEETF/Roper and NEP sections
of the survey. First average scores for the entire class were calculated on both the
NEETF/Roper and NEP sections of the survey. These average scores were for both
pre and post survey results. The means/averages were calculated using SAS software
and can be found in Appendix E, Table E.2. The pre and post average scores for the
environmental facets portion of the NEP survey were calculated using SAS software
and can be found in Appendix E, Table E. 10. For the NEETF/Roper portion of the
survey average scores for the entire class were calculated for each question pre and
post. Data was then summarized into a table describing gains or losses, by percent,
based on each question in the NEETF/Roper survey. Results of the NEETF/Roper
survey can be found in Table 5.1. For the NEP section of the survey each students
30


raw score (a score of 1 -5 for each of the 15 questions) was determined. The next data
analysis was to determine the percentage of students that answered the questions on
the NEP portion of the survey with Strongly Agree, Mildly Agree, Unsure,
Mildly Disagree and Strongly Disagree. Data was sorted by students answers to
the questions from high to low score depending on the question number (even or
odd). Each of the values, 1-5, were counted and totaled. Each question was then given
a percent of the total for each of the 5 categories. For example, for question 1, ten
people scored 5 on the pre-test and 22 people scored 5 on the post test. This means
that 23.3% of the students on the pre-test Strongly Agree with question 1 and that
51.2% of the students on the post-test Strongly Agree with question 1. This data
describes changes between pre and post NEP survey results, changes by category.
These results can be found in Table 5.5.
Data that was being assessed for changes in score on the environmental facets
portion of the NEP were calculated using paired t-tests. Each of the individuals
responses, on both pre and post survey, were grouped into the 5 categories. Students
pre and post scores on each of the 3 questions, in the 5 facet categories, were tallied
for an overall score (pre and post) for each environmental facet.
The next portion of data analysis was the regression analyses. Regression
analyses using SAS software were conducted to determine if there were correlations
between different variables, specifically between NEETF/Roper score and NEP score
as well as between pre and post scores (both NEETF/Roper and NEP) and against
demographic data. The programs were written by hand and then executed. There was
a total of 6 multiple regressions performed. The first two multiple regressions
examined whether the students scores on the NEETF/Roper (knowledge) had any
effect on the NEP (consciousness) scores and vice versa (Table 5.8 and Table 5.9).
This was done to determine if knowledge affects consciousness or consciousness
31


affects knowledge. The next set of multiple regressions that were run used students
pre and post NEETF/Roper and pre and post NEP scores (dependent variables)
against demographic data (students age, gender, race, year in school, and academic
major) these results can be found in Appendix E, Table E.3-E.6.
To determine if there were any significant gains on the students total scores
from both the pre and post surveys (NEETF/Roper and NEP surveys) paired t-test
were performed. The paired t-test was used because it compared the two related
observations (pre and post survey results). This t-test was calculated using SAS
software. The results can be found in Tables 5.2 and Table 5.4. There were also
paired t-tests calculated on the environmental facets of the NEP survey. They
compared the cumulative score for each of the 5 environmental facets (a possible of
15 points per facet) for students. These results can be found in Tables 5.6, Table 5.7
and Tables E.7-E.9. One final paired t-test was performed on the NEETF/Roper
percent change by question results (Table 5.1). This was calculated to determine if the
differences found from pre score percent to post score percent were significant. These
results can be found in Appendix E, Table E. 11.
4.3 Qualitative Data Analysis
Students that consented to engage in this research were asked by e-mail in
February 2010 to participate in a group interview session. There were a total of 43
individuals that consented to participate in the research and 3 responded back by
e-mail and joined in a group interview session. There were a total of 2 interviews.
Interview 1 had 2 participants and 2 interviewers and interview 2 had 1 interviewer
and 1 participant. The interviews were recorded and transcribed and can be found in
Appendix B. The demographics describing the students are as follows: 2 male
students 1 female student, all students were Caucasian and their academic majors
32


were as follows (Geography, Environmental Studies and Psychology,
respectively).The data that was collected in the interview sessions will be used to
supplement the surveys and help to determine the gains in environmental literacy the
students in ENVS 1042 made.
33


5. Results and discussion
And it got me to thinking about, How I'm not really living the life I'm talking
about. So I gave it up, and I left the city, got a place with a yard and I planted
myself a garden'
-Jeff Ott of Fifteen
To determine if students made gains in environmental literacy there were
several ways in which the datas were analyzed. The first each research question
addressed was to determine if the data results (an increase in environmental literacy
after participation in ENVS 1042) could be determined qualitatively or quantitatively.
Once this was determined, different statistical analyses were calculated on the
qualitative data (Research questions 1-3).Qualitative data (Research question 4) was
analyzed in the form of interviews. This was done to address each of the specific
research questions. The following results and discussions are divided into specific
research question areas. Research question four has three sub categories due to the
small participation rate in the interviews (n=3). For the rest of the discussion the
words pre/post survey and pre/post test are synonymous for the same data.
5.1 Do students gain environmental knowledge and environmental consciousness in
ENVS 1042?
One of the first research questions to be addressed is: Ri= Do students gain
environmental knowledge and environmental consciousness in ENVS 1042. Both
environmental knowledge and environmental consciousness could be determined
separate from each other.
The first step in determining if students made gains in environmental
knowledge (NEETF/Roper survey) was to establish whether or not the students made
gains on the post survey compared to the pre survey scores. Pre survey results in the
environmental knowledge test showed that the average score (out of 43 students) was
34


7.4 out of 12 with a standard deviation of 3.1 (Appendix E, E.2). The next step was to
determine how much scores improved in the NEEFT/Roper survey over the semester.
Table 5.1 shows the pre scores and post scores by percent of the number of students
who answered the questions correctly. For example, Table 5.1 shows that roughly
85% of the students answered question 1 correctly on the pre test and 97% of the
students answered question 1 correctly on the post test. This indicates that there was a
12% increase in the number of students that answered question 1 correctly at the end
of the semester after participation in ENVS 1042. The differences in percent between
the pre and post scores of the students were found to be statistically significant
(p=0.0005 ;Table E.llj.
Table 5.1. ENVS 1042 Knowledge Survey Results (NEETF/Roper Survey) shown by
percent
Question number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Pre Score 85 55 74 29 60 68 77 70 80 81 50 50
Post Score 97 54 95 66 88 83 78 97 85 92 61 80
Difference 12 -1 21 37 28 15 1 27 5 11 17 30
Table 5.1 Describes the percentages of students that answered each question correctly
on the pre and post NEETF/Roper survey. The difference row shows the change of
correct answers from the pre and post surveys.
Most students had an increase in the number of questions they answered
correctly at the end of the semester after participation in ENVS 1042. The average
correct score went from 7.4 to 9.2, out of 12 possible (with a standard deviation of
2.7, Appendix E, Table E.2). This means that on average students increased their
score by almost 3 points on the post NEETF/Roper survey. Students also increased
35


their overall knowledge by question on the survey, which is shown by percent
difference in pre and post scores in Table 5.1 (P=0.0005). The only question that had
a decline in correct responses was question two. This question asks students to
determine the number one source of carbon monoxide. While grading the pre and post
surveys it was clear that most students answered correctly with C. Motor Vehicles
or incorrectly with A. Factories and businesses. This subject was covered both in
the lecture and the lab, so seemingly there is still come confusion on the number one
source of carbon monoxide which could possibly be debated.
Overall the results from the knowledge portion of the survey showed gains in
almost all the different environmental areas. Students had an increase in the number
of questions they answered correctly. Figure 5.1 is a representation in the form of a
bar graph that shows the trends in the increase in the knowledge portion of the
environmental literacy survey.
36


Figure 5.1.Comparision of Pre and Post raw scores for the NEETF/Roper Survey
Number of correct answers of out 12
Table 5.1 Describes the number of students that answered each of the 12 questions
correctly. The total possible score was a 12/12 points.
Figure 5.1 describes the students in ENVS 1042s raw scores on the
NEETF/Roper pre and post survey. The number of students that answered correctly is
on the vertical axis and the number of correct answers out of 12 is along the
horizontal axis. This graph gives a visual representation of the increase in the number
of correctly answered questions by students in ENVS 1042. On the pre test of the
NNEETF/Roper survey there were 7 students out of 43 (16.28% of 100%) got 12/12
correct. On the post knowledge survey that score jumped to 15 students out of 43
(34.88% out of 100%) got 12/12 correct after ENVS 1042.
The next question to be answered was: are the differences in the results from
pre to post test significant. In other words does participation in ENVS 1042 have a
37


statistical effect on the knowledge gains of students? To assess this question a paired
t-test was performed to at the significance level of p =0.05. The paired t-test showed
a result of Pr>ItI = 0.0003. This p-value indicates a statistical significance that the
students in ENVS 1042 made gains in knowledge on the post survey. In table 5.2
below there is a summary of the t-test results for the knowledge portion of the
environmental literacy survey.
Table 5.2. The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEETF/Roper Scores to Post
___________NEETF/Roper Scores_________________________________
Difference N Lower Mean Statistics Upper Lower Std Dev Upper Std Err
Pre-Post 43 CL Mean -2.718 -1.791 CL Mean -0.864 CLStd Dev 2.4838 3.0123 CLStd Dev 3.8287 0.4594
T-Tests
Difference DF t Value Pr > Itl
Pre-Post 42 -3.90 0.0003
Table 5.2 Describes the statistics for the t-test procedure comparing pre
NEETF/Roper surveys to post NEETF/Roper surveys. The p-value (Pr >ItI =0.0003)
was less than p=0.05 which indicates a statistically significant change between pre
scores and post scores on the NEETF/Roper Survey.
How do students in ENVS 1042 compare to the national results that were
compiled by NEETF/Roper in 1997 and in 2000? Table 5.3 is a summary table of the
national surveys results. These results show the percent of the questions answered
correctly by two different cohorts: 1997 and 2000. Overall students in ENVS 1042
had a better knowledge base of environmental issues coming into the classroom then
v
the general public that was surveyed by NEETF. The students in ENVS 1042 left the
classroom with a much higher level of basic environmental knowledge. The only
38


question where the general public scored higher (by percent) then ENVS 1042
students was question two. It is unclear why students in ENVS 1042 did poorly
compared to the general public, and even performed lower compared to the general
public after participation in an introductory environmental science class.
Table 5.3. NEETF/Roper Survey Results 1997-2000 (Coyle, 2005)
Question Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1997 Survey 40 69 33 23 66 57 83 67 74 73 58 53
2000 Survey 41 65 33 28 65 54 85 67 72 74 57 53
Table 5.3 Describes the statistics from the original NEETF/Roper survey given in
1997 and in 2000. The data describes the percent of individuals that answered each
question correctly.
The next portion of research question 1 to address was: do students in ENVS
1042 make environmentally consciousness gains after participation in the course?
This was determined by comparing the results of the pre and post surveys of the New
Ecological Paradigm Survey portion of the test. Figure 5.2 shows the results of how
the students responded to questions relating to the environment on the pre and post
surveys. Environmental literacy portion of the survey was out of a total of 75 possible
points. The higher the score, the more environmentally/ecologically conscious the
students is.
Figure 5.2 shows the total NEP score on the horizontal axis. The categories
are scores of 32, 40, 48, 56, 64 or 72 out of a possible 75. For example there were 3
students out of a total of 43 (6.98 out of 100%) that had a NEP score of 72/75 (this
39


score is a very high environmental/ecological consciousness). On the post NEP
survey there were 9 students out of 43 (20.93 out of 100%) that had a score of 72/75
on the NEP survey. This indicates a 13.98% increase in the number of students that
moved to a higher score on the NEP survey. This graph gives a visual representation
of the gains in environmental consciousness made in ENVS 1042.
Figure 5.2 Comparison of Pre and Post raw scores for the NEP survey
NEP Scores
18
n32 n40 n48 n56 n64 n72
Total score out of a possible 75 points
Figure 5.2 Describes the number of studentts that had differing scores on the NEP
survey. Students could recieve a total of 75 possible. The horiziontal axis (n32, n40,
n48, n56, n64 and n72 ) show the the scores that students received.
40


Overall the total pre test scores on the NEP (out of a total of 75 questions)
were 54.9 (standard deviation of 10.4, Appendix E, Table E.2) and on the post NEP
test students had on average 57.8 out of 75 (standard deviation of 10.6, Table E.2).
On average students made gains of 2.8 points out of the total 75 points possible on the
NEP portion of the environmental literacy survey. These results could indicate that
the students were changing over to a more ecological/environmental worldview.
Although the students made on average a 2.8 point gain on the NEP portion of
the survey the next question is, is that statistically significant? To determine
significance another paired t-test was performed to compare pre and post NEP scores.
The t-test was performed to at the significance level of p =0.05. The paired t-test
showed a result of Pr>ItI = 0.0168. This p-value indicates a statistical significance
that the students in ENVS 1042 made gains in environmental consciousness on the
post survey. In table 5.4 below there is a summary of the t-test results for the
consciousness portion of the environmental literacy survey.
Table 5.4. The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEP scores to Post NEP scores
Statistics
Difference N Lower Mean Upper Lower Std Upper Std Err
CL CL CLStd Dev CLStd
Mean Mean Dev Dev
Pre-Post 43 -5.221 -2.884 -0.546 6.262 7.5945 9.6527 1.1582
T-Tests
Difference | DF t Value Pr > Itl
Pre-Post 42 -2.49 0.0168
Table 5.3 Describes the statistics for the t-test procedure comparing pre NEP surveys)
to post NEP survey. The p-value {Pr >ItI =0.0168) was less than p=0.05 which
indicates a statistically significant change between pre scores and post scores on the
NEP.
41


The results from the ENVS 1042 NEP survey showed statistically significant
gains in overall environmental consciousness score. There were also questions as to
what portions of the survey had the most gains? Table 5.5 summarizes the students
answers by percent, out of the total cohort of 43, for the pre (post) survey. Any gains
could be considered as moving from one category to another on the Likert-type scale
(Strongly Agree, Agree, Unsure, Mildly Disagree, and Strongly Disagree).
Gains in a more environmentally/ecologically conscious would be toward the
Strongly Agree category for odd numbers, and toward the Strongly Disagree
category for the even numbers. Table 5.5 shows the pre survey scores by percent and
in the parentheses are the pos scores by the percent of students that answered the
question.
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Table 5.5. Environmental Consciousness (NEP) Pre-Survey (post-survey) Scores by
Percent
Do you agree or disagree that: SA MA U MD SD (N)
1. We are approaching the limit of the number of people the earth can support 23.3 (51.2) 41.9 (39.5) 16.3 (2.3) 14.0 (2.3) 4.7 (4.7) 43 (43)
2. Humans have the right to modify the natural environment to suit their needs 0.0 (2.3) 27.9 (25.6) 16.3 (9.3) 48.8 (48.8) 7.0 (14.0) 43 (43)
3. When humans interfere with nature it often produces disastrous consequences 20.9 (44.2) 46.5 (44.2) 7.0 (7.0) 18.6 (4.7) 4.7 (0.0) 42 (43)
4. Human ingenuity will insure that we do NOT make the earth unlivable 2.3 (7.0) 20.9 (9.3) 34.9 (39.5) 27.9 (27.9) 14.0 (16.3) 43 (43)
5. Humans are severely abusing the environment 51.2 (73.2) 37.2 (22.0) 4.7 (0.0) 7.0 (4.9) 0.0 (0.0) 43 (41)
6.The earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them 32.6 (18.6) 30.2 (34.9) 14.0 (4.7) 18.6 (30.2) 4.7 (11.6) 43 (43)
7.Plants and animals have as much right as humans to exist 60.5 (62.8) 30.2 (23.3) 2.3 (7.0) 7.0 (7.0) 0.0 (0.0) 43 (43)
8.The balance of nature is strong enough to cope with the impacts of modem industrial nations 2.3 (0.0) 4.7 (16.3) 23.3 (11.6) 32.6 (48.4) 25.6 (34.9) 43 (43)
9. Despite our special abilities humans are still subject to the laws of nature 65.1 (65.1) 27.9 (23.3) 7.0 (7.0) 0.0 2.3) 0.0 (0.0) 43 (42)
10. The so-called ecological crisis facing humankind has been greatly exaggerated 2.4 (5.0) 17.1 (17.5) 24.4 (10.0) 29.3 (47.5) 26.8 (20.0) 41 (40)
The pre survey percents numbers are on top of the numbers in parentheses. The numbers in parentheses are the
post survey percent scores. Bolded percentages indicate a score of 5. These categories represent answers that
correlate to high environmental consciousness.
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Table 5.5. (Con't)
Do you agree or disagree that: SA MA U MD SD (N)
11. The earth is like a spaceship with very limited room and resources 41.5 (51.3) 34.1 (41.0) 14.6 (5.1) 7.3 (0.0) 2.4 (2.6) 41 (39)
12. Humans were meant to rule over the rest of nature 9.8 (5.0) 19.5 (20.0) 0.0 (5.0) 24.4 (20.0) 43.9 (50.0) 40 (40)
13. The balance of nature is very delicate and easily upset 39.0 (46.2) 22.0 (38.5) 24.4 (5.1) 14.6 (103) 0.0 (0.0) 41 (39)
14. Humans will eventually learn enough about how nature works to be able to control it 4.9 (0.0) 12.2 (20.0) 29.3 (17.5) 36.6 (37.5) 19.5 (22.5) 42 (39)
15. If things continue on their present course, we will soon experience a major ecological catastrophe 39.0 (55.0) 31.7 (25.0) 12.2 (15.0) 17.1 (5.0) 0.0 (0.0) 41 (40)
*The pre survey percents numbers are on top of the numbers in parentheses. The numbers in parentheses are the
post survey percent scores. Bolded percentages indicate a score of 5. These categories represent answers that
correlate to high environmental consciousness.
Students overall made moves toward a more environmentally/ecologically
conscious worldview. There are several examples where students made large gains
on specific areas of the NEP survey. For example on question 1 of the NEP survey
We are approaching the limit of the number of people the earth can support the
percentage of students that answered Strongly Agree went from 23.3% to 51.2
percent. That is a 27.9 percent increase in students that agree with the ideas that there
is limits to the amount people of growth that the earth can support. On question 5 of
the NEP survey Humans are severely abusing the environment 51.2% of students
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strongly agreed on the pre survey and 73.2% of students strongly agreed on the post
survey. This is an increase of 22% of the students agreeing with the idea that we as
humans are abusing the environment in some way. Both of these questions suggest
that students learned that there is only a limited number of resources on earth and that
we need to take more caution in the choices in our daily lives that may have a
negative impact on the environment.
In general on the odd questions, where strongly agree indicates a more
positive ecological/environmental worldview, there was an increase in the number of
students that answered the question with strongly agree. On the even questions, where
strongly disagree indicates a more positive ecological/environmental worldview,
there was also an increase in the percentage of students that answered with strongly
disagree. Across the board there was a shift in many of the students to a more
ecological/environmental worldview which can be correlated to their environmental
consciousness about specific environmental questions.
The final component of this first research question is do students make more
gains in a particular areas of the NEP. In other words, what environmental facets
defined by Dunlap and Van Liere (2000), had the most significant increases? This
was assessed by performing paired t-tests. Students scores for each of the 5 facets (a
total of 15 points possible on each facet) were tallied for both the pre and post survey.
T-tests were run at a p=0.05 significance level and compared pre and post survey
scores for each of the environmental facets. Only two out of the five facets had a
statistically significant change from pre to post survey. Students had a significant
change in the limits to growth facet p=0.0014 (Table 5.6) and fragility of nature
facet p=0.0006 (Table 5.7). The results of the other facets, which showed not
statistically significant change, are found in Appendix E, Tables E.7-E.9.
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Table 5.6. The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEP and Post NEP: Limits to
growth facet
Statistics
Difference N Lower Mean Upper Lower Std Dev Upper Std Err
CL CL CLStd CLStd
Mean Mean Dev Dev
Pre-Post 43 -1.995 -1.256 -0.517 1.98 2.40 3.05 0.336
T-Tests
Difference DF t Value Pr > Itl
Pre-Post 42 -3.43 0.0014
Table 5.6 Describes the statistics for the t-test procedure comparing Pre and Post
NEP: Limits to growth facet. The p-value {Pr >ItI =0.0014) was less thanp=0.05
which indicates a statistically significant change between pre scores and post scores
on the NEP: Limits to growth facet.
Table 5.7. The T-Test Procedure. Comparison of Pre NEP and Post NEP: Fragility of
Nature facet
Statistics
Difference N Lower Mean Upper Lower Std Dev Upper Std Err
CL CL CLStd CLStd
Mean Mean Dev Dev
Pre-Post 43 -2.04 -1.32 -0.60 1.91 2.32 2.95 0.35
T-Tests
Difference DF t Value Pr > Itl
Pre-Post 42 -3.74 0.0006
Table 5.7 Describes the statistics for the t-test procedure comparing Pre and Post
NEP: Fragility of nature facet. The p-value (Pr >ItI =0.0006) was less than p=0.05
which indicates a statistically significant change between pre scores and post scores
on the NEP: Fragility of nature facet.
46


The paired t-test only tells that there was a statistically significant change in
the pre score and post score. It appears as though there was an increase in scores on
the fragility of nature and limits to growth facet leading to the significant changes. A
means procedure was done to determine the pre and post score values in each of the
facet areas. This table can be found in Appendix E, Table E.10. The means procedure
shows that the limits to growth and fragility of nature facets had the most changes in
the form of increased scores on the post survey. The limits to growth facet had a
mean of 9.83 out of 15 on the pre survey (standard deviation= 2.43) and jumped to a
11.09 out of a possible of 15 on the post survey (standard deviation = 2.55). For the
fragility of nature facet of the NEP students pre scores were 10.90 out of 15 (standard
deviation = 2.50) and on the post survey increased to 12.23 out of 15 (standard
deviation = 2.26). For the other three facets that showed no statistical change, the
students scores stayed relatively the same between pre and post survey.
Overall the results of the t-tests on the environmental facets of the NEP survey
show some changes in particular areas of the survey. The anthropocentrism facet
(p=0.69), rejection of exemptionalism facet (p=0.77) and the possibility of an
ecocrisis facet (p=0.51) all had no statistically significant changes between pre and
post survey. Although it impossible to say why these 3 facets had no increases over
the semester, the other two statistically significant facets may have been directly
addressed during the lecture and the lab portion of the course. For example, in the lab
and lecture there is a specific discussion on the limits to growth in the form of
overpopulation, dwindling natural resources (food, oil, land and water) and
exploitation of resources. In the lab there is an exercise that directly addresses the
idea of human carrying capacity. This lab could change and improve students
environmental consciousness to the idea of the limits to (human) growth. The three
facets that had no statistically significant changes could be generalized more as
47


personal worldviews rather than specific areas that could have immediate
improvements in the area of environmental consciousness. The increase on the limits
to growth facet and the fragility of nature could be contributed to subjects discussed
in the lab such as carrying capacity and human health and risk assessments, in other
words these facets may focus more on the direct subjects addressed.
5.2 Is there a correlation between environmental knowledge and environmental
consciousness?
One research question considered was: are environmental knowledge and
environmental consciousness correlated to one another. The conjecture is that the
more knowledgeable about the environment you are the more conscious you are about
environmental ideas, worldviews and overall the environment itself. Knowledge can
then translate to the ability to make more conscious decisions in regards to things
such as products you purchase and using public transportation.
To determine if the knowledge scores from the NEETF/Roper survey were
correlated to the environmental consciousness scores of the NEP survey two
regression analyses were run. The first regression used the dependent variable of the
pre NEETF/Roper knowledge score. The independent variable was the pre NEP
score. In the second regression the dependent variable was the pre NEP score and the
independent variable was the pre NEETF/Roper score. This was done because,
although the belief is that knowledge influences consciousness, it cannot be ruled out
that consciousness about an issue could raise awareness. In the context of this
research environmental consciousness may have stemmed from a students
worldview and may influence how much more information about an environmental
issue they may want to learn. The regression analysis tells us if there is any
correlation between these two environmental scores (knowledge and consciousness).
48


The results from the first regression show that environmental knowledge is
correlated to environmental consciousness. These results are shown in Table 5.8. The
results of the environmental consciousness having an effect on environmental
knowledge are shown in Table 5.9.
Table 5.8 Regression analysis on dependent variable preNEETF/Roper score on
independent variable preNEP score
Variable Label DF Parameter Estimate Standard Error t Value Pr> It l
Intercept Intercept 1 -0.170 2.288 -0.07 0.941
PreNEP PreNEP 1 0.147 0.041 3.55 0.001
Table 5.8 Describes the statistics for the regression analysis comparing pre
NEETF/Roper and pre NEP scores. The p-value (Pr >ItI =0.0001) was less than
p=0.05 which indicates a statistically significant correlation between pre
NEETF/Roper scores and pre NEP scores.
Table 5.9 Regression analysis on dependent variable preNEP score on independent
variable preNEETF/Roper score
Variable Label DF Parameter Estimate Standard Error t Value Pr> It l
Intercept Intercept 1 41.124 3.965 10.37 <.0001
Pre NEETF Pre NEETF 1 1.629 0.458 3.55 0.001
Table 5.9 Describes the statistics for the regression analysis comparing pre NEP and
pre NEETF/Roper scores. The p-value (Pr >ltl =0.0001) was less than p=0.05 which
indicates a statistically significant correlation between pre NEP scores and pre
NEETF/Roper scores.
The regression results indicate that there is a strong correlation between
environmental knowledge and environmental consciousness. The regression was run
with a p-vaule of 0.05. The p-value that was the result of the two multiple regressions
was Pr>ltl =0.0001 which indicates that there is a statistical significance between
49


environmental knowledge and environmental consciousness. Due to the fact that both
multiple regressions were run and both of the p-values were the same it is difficult to
determine which variable influences the other. The most likely result is that both
knowledge and consciousness influence each other equally. If an individual hears a
fact about the environment it may lead the individual to leam more about it, which in
turn increases their consciousness about the specific subject. The reverse can be true
as well. If an individual has a strong ecological/environmental worldview because of
their interactions with the environment as a child these types of interactions can lead
an individual to want to become more knowledgeable about the surrounding world. In
this instance environmental literacy, the combination of knowledge and
consciousness, would be building on the foundation that an individual already
possesses.
5.3 What other factors besides coursework in school affect environmental literacy?
(Demographic data)
The third research question to be answered was: does demographic data
(gender, race/ethnicity, age, year in school and college major) effect how well
individuals perform on both the environmental literacy and environmental knowledge
portions of the environmental literacy survey? To determine the answer to this
research question a multiple regression analysis was performed 4 times on the
r
independent variables of gender(female), race/ethnicity (white), age, year in school
and college major (major). Descriptions of the variables can be found in Appendix E.
The dependent variables were pre NEETF/Roper score, post NEETF/Roper score, pre
NEP score and post NEP score. All data was run for a statistical significance of
p = 0.05. The data tables can be found in Appendix E, Tables E.3-E.6.
50


The results from the multiple regression were that there was no correlation
between pre and post NEETF/Roper scores or NEP scores on the 5 demographic
variables that were tested. This indicates that the students that participated in the
survey may have had roughly the same environmental knowledge and environmental
consciousness coming into ENVS 1042. The results also indicate that because there
was no statistically significant gain of one demographic group over another after
taking ENVS 1042, on the NEETF/Roper and NEP surveys, that most students
learned the same amount regardless of demographic grouping in this case. This is a
positive result because students are making gains in environmental consciousness and
environmental knowledge at the same level, at least in the case of this cohort of 43
individuals.
5.4 How is environmental literacy constructed in ENVS 1042?
The final research question to be address attempted to find out several facets
of student learning in ENVS 1042. Students were asked questions about where their
previous ideas about the environment were developed and what helped them learn the
most over the course. Finally students were asked how they took the knowledge and
consciousness that they gained throughout the semester to make environmentally
friendly decisions in their lives. This fourth research question has been divided into
three sub-categories. The reason that research question four has 3 subcategories was
due to the limited participation in interview sessions by participants in the research.
The importance of having a larger sample size in the future is valuable in determining
students ideas about environmental issues, both before and after participation in
ENVS 1042. The following discussion will follow the three sub-categorized questions
(Where do most students get most of their environmental knowledge while taking
ENVS 1042 (lecture, lab, book)?, Does content in the lab portion of ENVS 1042
51


matter for environmental literacy gains? And Where do students learn most of their
skills to make informed decisions about the environment in ENVS 1042? ) under
research question four.
To determine in what portion of the course students learned the most about
the environment a qualitative analysis was necessary. Due to the nature of surveys,
both the NEETF/Roper and the NEP, it was difficult to determine what the exact
content and concepts about the environment students took away from the class. To
supplement the data gathered from the surveys, students were asked to participate in
an interview session to determine where their environmental knowledge came from.
Specifically we wanted to know where students got their information about the
environment before they took ENVS 1042 and while taking the class which parts,
lecture, lab or book, helped them to learn the most.
Out of the 43 students that participated in the survey portion of the research 3
students volunteered to attend an interview session. The first question to be addressed
is the question of where do people, in the case of ENVS 1042, gather information
about the environment before academic participation in an introductory
environmental science course. In interview 2 Student C responded to the prompt in
this way:
Interviewer 1- ...I know you have a science background,... but before you
took this class where was the main place that you got information about
science? and the environment?
Student C- Science Channel
Interviewer 1 Did you ever have any other media sources like local news or
CNN or science times or anything like that?
Student C- no so much,
Interviewer 1- mostly TV?
52


Student C- mostly TV and my Dad because hes kinda in the field
The two students that participated in Interview 1 were asked a similar question by e-
mail. Their question and responses are as follows:
Where did you get information about the environment before taking ENVS
1042?
Student A-1 got my info about the environment from BBC, TV, National
Geographic, my friend is a vegan and she told me things about it. I would
always notice environment around myself, I would observe it and write things
in my diary.
Student B- Nothing really outside of popular media, TV, newspapers, some
about recycling in high school
The responses that were given by these 3 students mimic the result that
NEETF/Roper found in their survey conducted across the United States. Although
one cannot generalize that all students in ENVS 1042 get their environmental
information from multiple forms of public media, there seems to be a pattern
appearing in the students responses. All three students mentioned television as a
source of environmental information. The media is a powerful source of information,
but too often the whole story is not told. There is an underlying importance for these
students to be able to critically analyze what they are viewing in popular media and
have the skills to find out more about these subjects. In other words, students in
ENVS 1042, after completion of the course, should come away with a better
knowledge base of environmental facts and issues and be able to deconstruct the
medias portrayal of the environment and environmental issues. For future research it
53


would be important to ask more participants this question to get a sense of where their
knowledge base of environmental issues is generated.
During the two interview sessions students were asked what aspect of the
course helped them to learn the most, specifically was it the lab, lecture, book or a
combination of the three different teaching tools. Overall students said that the book
was not as helpful for overall learning, because it was repetitious to what they were
learning in the lecture portion of the class. Students in the interview also tended to
focus on the lecture portion of the class more when they talked about the class as a
whole unless prompted to talk about the lab in particular, which is addressed later
Student B said I would think that the lab and the class went hand in hand. They were
both equally beneficial.
Students seemed to see the lecture and the lab as two discrete classes, even
though they had one combined grade. To better assess this research question more
data would need to be collected and analyzed to determine how helpful each aspect of
the course was to overall learning about the environment. There also may be an
underlying importance to connect the lecture and the labs in such a way that they are
learning similar subjects at the same time. These types of connections may help
students to focus on the class as a whole rather than as two discrete classes.
The next part of research question R4 was generated while thinking about how
ENVS 1042 has evolved over the past 3 years from a traditional style classroom to a
more constructivist type classroom. One of the aims that arose from a change in
curriculum of the lab section of the course was to help to connect the lecture portion
of the class to the lab and the lab to environmental science. The next and most
important conjunction for students to make would be to connect the environment to
their lives. The hope is that this constructivist, a more peer-centered and personal
centered classroom, would help to build students consciousness about the
54


environment and help to build their environmental literacy. To ascertain how the lab
portion of the class had an impact on students, interviewees were asked several
question about what role the lab portion of the course played for them in overall
learning. When these questions were asked students were prompted to answer how
the lab helped them in overall learning, rather than how the course as a whole helped
them.
The following are some quotes from the interview sessions, found in entirety
in Appendix B.
Student B- It was more of a hands on experience and thats where I think that
the critical thinking class came in, we were actually interacting and having to
think beyond what was being, beyond the material that was presented.
Student A- Yeah, well I actually liked how in our lab with Instructor B, she
um didnt make it hard, but she made it fun. She made us all go around and do
things and say things on a particular topic or when we went outside and we
collected leaves or we did this or we did that and the journal we kept so, it was
very interesting and it didnt and it wasnt pressure, oh this is lab., because
most of the people had the lab.
Student B- ...I definitely paid more attention to news stories pertaining to the
environment
Interviewer 2- When you say pay more attention was there a particular aspect
of that you were...
Student B- um, before it was something that I would just half pay attention to
you know like, yeah well, but then it was like this might be kind of important
and I would start listening more and pay
Students appear to enjoy both the traditional (lecture) and a more
constructivist (lab) classroom setting. They were drawn to the smaller class size in the
lab where they had access to other students and their instructor. All 3 students
mentioned that if they were able to change some aspect of the class (the lecture) it
55


would be to have a smaller class size (although they also realized that it would be
impractical for this type of class). These quotes show that students in ENVS 1042, at
least the students that were interviewed, were building upon their knowledge base.
This knowledge base came from both portions of the course; lab and lecture. Students
also appear to be building their environmental consciousness and awareness when
topics are discussed in the lab setting.
As a personal observation made during teaching, students are much more
engaged with each other and to the material during the lab. I have overheard many
conversations where students will be discussing the lab and how it relates to other
environmental issues as well as to their lives. For example a particular group was
discussing carrying capacity and how the lab discussed world food production. They
then started their own conversation on and what it meant to eat locally, and then gave
each other then information to attend local farmers markets. These are the types of
conversations that promote environmental consciousness.
For future research on the promotion of environmental literacy in the lab
section of ENVS 1042, there may need to be more students participating in the
interview session. Another area of interest may be to see how conversations develop
in the lab groups with the lab being the prompt for discussion. The type of
conversations observed may paint a better picture on how students are relating
environmental topics to their lives.
The final portion of research question four addresses the environmental
literacy portion of the research and corresponds with the questions discussed
previously. The main focus of this question was to find out how students take the
facts and knowledge they learned from both the lab and lecture, incorporate personal
consciousness that was (hopefully) fostered in the lab and then apply these skills to
make decisions about the environment. The students were first asked what
56


environmental science means to them. Although data was not collected on what
students ideas were about environmental science before participation in the course,
the students interviews help to give us a window into how ENVS 1042 changed their
ideas about environmental science?
Interviewer 1-So what, after taking this class what does environmental science
mean to you now?
Student B- The class in particular broadened my view of environmental
impacts on a global scale. I was, I more say things um locally and saw things
that impacted me directly and it really broadened my view of how we impact
our environment globally
Student A- Yeah, I would have to agree that and also say that most of the
classes teach about certain areas like for example if you take a US history you
take a history of a particular country whereas when you study environmental
science its uh, multidisciplinary study that makes people see how the world is
effected the whole planet Earth is effected by what we do and, and things like
pollution and just everything that we create that we could overcome with if
we didnt do some things. I dont know, I started recycling ever since and I
made my family, like all of them recycle now and its a big change.
In the quotes above Students A and B both summarized what environmental
science means to them. I think that they are alluding to the fact that we have local
environmental issues as well as global environmental issues. What is imperative to
take away is that the local issues can impact the global issues, and most importantly
that we are all interconnected to each other and the environment. These two quotes
help to show that students are making progress toward more environmentally literate
individuals whom can see environmental issues on multiple levels.
57


Participants in the interviews were then asked how the environment is affected
by decisions they make on a daily basis. Interviewer 1-Can you think of an instance
where you had to make a choice in your everyday like that would affect the
environment?
Student A-1 dont know it made me obsessive compulsive about turning off
lights at my house and you know like, at night, I would turn off the
microwave like unplug it an I still do that so and its been what? you know 2
months now and I still do that stuff and I, like when, I take a shower ok Im
going to turn it off when I shave and Im going to do this when I brush my
teeth, Im going to turn just more conscious
Student B- ...power-strips, things like that, conserving energy, um, lets see
definitely recycling more pay more attention to what Im throwing away
Student A- all that and probably just making people more aware. So many
people dont really even understand
Student C-1 always kinda feel bad about driving my car now, its not very gas
efficient and um, I try to drive a little more responsibly, without high revs and
full throttle and stuff like that anymore. Um, and I try to be conscious about
recycling the products that I buy like, for example i just bought this
yesterday, my coffee mug, something like 25% recycled, BPA free and all
that. Or my water jug, its reusable, metal/aluminum container, its not filling
up landfills with plastic and stuff like that.
The above quotations from the interviews help to show that environmental
literacy is promoted in ENVS 1042, at least in the case of these three students. The
combination of factual knowledge gained in the lecture and lab intertwined with the
constructivist nature of the lab help students to realize how much they actually impact
the environment, on a local and global level. When student A said just making
people more aware, so many people dont really even understand, this struck a nerve
which is at the center of this research.
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Individuals in society today are disconnected from the natural world; society
is heading toward a culture with nature-deficit disorder. The students that were
interviewed from ENVS 1042 may have had slightly more ecological/environmental
worldviews to begin with, but it seems that they took away the concept that the
environment is important and that we affect it. At the center of this research is the
idea that it is important for individuals in society to learn facts about the environment
and pressing environmental issues. In turn they develop an awareness, a
consciousness so to speak, about the environment and environmental impacts. These
two ideas interwoven together are environmental literacy and it appears that students
that leave ENVS 1042 are more environmentally literate citizens.
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6. Conclusions and Recommendations
To recapitulate the data collection and the outcomes it is important to come
back to the core of this research. To use an analogy, environmental literacy is like an
arch made out of stone. Environmental knowledge and environmental consciousness
make up the sides of the arch and the keystone at the top is environmental literacy.
Without a strong foundation the arch cannot support itself. Students at the University
of Colorado Denver that enroll in introduction to environmental science, ENVS 1042,
are building the foundation to achieving environmental literacy.
The data collected over one semester shows that student gain knowledge as
well as consciousness about the environment and subsequently environmental issues.
They use this information is such a way as to incorporate their own personal
experiences and connections to the environment so as to develop an overall
environmental awareness. Although this course is only 16 weeks long, it acts as a
bridge for individuals to act as environmental stewards.
The original definition that was used to define environmental literacy at the
beginning of this thesis has evolved. The definition stated in chapter one which
defines that environmental literacy as knowledge (facts about the environment) and
consciousness (a set of personal values about the environment) which implies an
interrelatedness of human-environment relationships. Although it is important to have
knowledge and consciousness it is also important to see if there is any action that
takes place. The next step in a revised definition of environmental literacy would be
to add a statement about environmental actions. Although this idea was central to this
thesis it was not directly assessed in this research. Only when actions are added to the
stone arch of environmental literacy will it fully be achieved.
For the future of environmental literacy research it will be essential to
determine if students take environmental action within their lives. Although students
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were interviewed and asked how they make environmental decisions in their lives it
would be important to incorporate more data that could be assessed. For future
research a recommendation of pre- interviews or pre- questions that could help to
assess where students are generating their ideas about environmental issues and how
they affect their lives. Questions that would be important to ask would be:
Where have you learned about science and environmental science in the past?
What does science mean to you?
What is the definition of nature?
What is the definition of environment?
What type of people do science?
Where do you get your environmental information? Or information about the
environment?
What science classes have you participated in before this class?
What do you do for fun?
These questions would help to assess where the students previous knowledge and
conceptions about the environment came from. Some students may have connections
to the environment such as hiking at a young age with family members. These types
of events in a persons life can have huge impacts on their worldviews.
Once the students have completed the coursework it would be important to
find out how what they learned plays a role in their lives. Interviewing student in
intervals after completion of the course would help to see if what they learned stays
with them or declines through time. The only real assessment tool for environmental
action is seeing it take place.
Environmental literacy is an important aspect our society should be
embracing. For future environmental changes it is critical to educate students now.
They can then take what they learned and apply it in meaningful ways. We could
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achieve a future society that has strayed away from the dominant social paradigm and
anthropocentrism and moved toward a more environmentally conscious society. Our
society should move from being a reactive society to a proactive society and embrace
nature and the environment in any decision making process. We could harvest a
society that makes decisions that reflect consequences that may even extend beyond
the scope of their own lifetimes. Environmental education/science research can help
better uncover and understand the struggles that society is having connecting to the
environment. Environmental research can help promote environmental literacy and
create environmentally knowledgeable and conscious citizens. Final thoughts will be
given by Charles Darwin. He said freedom of thought will best be promoted by a
gradual enlightening of mans minds, which follow[s] the advance of science.
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7. A letter to future teaching assistants of ENVS 1042
Dear future teaching assistants of ENVS 1042,
This is an extraordinary journey you are embarking on. As you begin, end or
supplement your graduate career you have fallen upon an opportunity that can change
you and students that come into the lab. Teaching is itself an extraordinary experience
that few have the opportunity to pursue. I thought that it would only be fitting to
finish my thesis and give you some words of advice on being a TA for 1042, and how
it has change me.
Teaching can be not only an exciting experience but a frightening one. I came
to the University of Colorado, from Ohio, only one month before I began to teach
undergraduates about environmental science. I was intimidated not only by the
students but in several other ways as well (not to mention the fact that I moved cross-
country and knew no-one and very little about Denver). The way the class was
presented to me was in no way romantic. I was ensured that this class was easy and
that students are just trying to get through. The curriculum at that time definitely
reflected these ideas as well.
The first semester was just like learning to ride a bike. I had the tools I
needed, but there was a confidence that needed to be developed within me. Shortly
after the first semester there was an obvious lack of real learning taking place. This
frustrated me because I personally find the nature, human-environment interactions as
well as environmental science fascinating. It would be an understatement to say that it
is my passion.
This is when the evolution of ENVS 1042 lab began. Along with my good
friend (another TA), Austine, we decided that things needed to change.
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Environmental Science is about the environment, but humans as well. We decided
that this class should influence students and their ideas about the environment.
Overall the thesis of this new curriculum was that these students could leave this
classroom with a better idea and understanding of common environmental issues and,
most importantly, how they are also directly connected to them in some way. This
classroom would turn into a forum for students to present their opinions, ask
questions, develop relationships and learn things about the environment that they
have always been curious about.
I am writing you so that this environment that we have created in ENVS 1042,
a discussion lab instead of an actual experimental lab, remains into the future. All the
paper labs that have been created should not just act as themselves and stand alone,
but act as a discourse, so as to bring in other ideas and concepts. These pre-prepared
labs are only guidance.
This classroom is your forum to bring to the table ideas and concepts that you
are passionate about. These students are willing to learn as much as they can from
you if you give them the opportunity. Each lab in essence should stand alone from
one another.
Students can and will be difficult, but for every one or two students that give
you frustration there will be four to five whose life you change in some way. That
may seem a little silly, but it is true.
If we plan to have an environmentally conscious society in the future, one that
makes environmentally friendly and conscious decisions, we need to teach them how
to achieve these goals. The likelihood that these students will take another science
class is slim, and this is your opportunity to engage them in science.
I used this class as a forum to discuss topics that I am passionate about. I gave
the students the opportunity to see me and how I apply environmental science into my
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life. I tell them how I try to live more conscious and make decisions that could effect
the environment. I am still in contact with many of my students and I hope that you
will be too.
Overall I just wanted to let you know that it can be scary and difficult at first.
It also takes time to become comfortable in what you are doing. Take the time. Be
passionate about what you are doing. It really can make a difference
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APPENDIX A. SURVEYS
PI-Erin Steiner
Cc-PI Dr. Bryan Wee
HSRN 09-0741
This is a survey that will be used to assess potential change in student demographics as well as environmental literacy in ENVS 1042. Your
responses on this survey will not influence your grade in this course in any way. shape or form Please answer the questions to the best of
your ability.
A unique Identifier___________________the first two digits of your birth month and the last two digits of the year you graduate high
school eg: if you were bom in May and graduated in 2002 then your id would be 0502
Age: 18-21 22-25 26-30 31-35 3&40 4145 46-50 50+
Gender Male Female
Race/Ethniaty: __________________________________________
Year in College: Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Other_____________________________________________
Ma|or: ___________________________________________
Why are you taking this class? To Fuffill a general education requirement for graduation Part of degree program
To obtain a minor Other______________________________________
Prior to this course, how many environmental science (or related) courses have you taken in college? (Please provide the names of these
courses if you can remember them)
Draw a picture of the environment
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Section 1
Please read each statement carefully and then determine if you Strongly Agree (SA). Mildly Agree (MA). Unsure (U).Mildly Disagree (MD)
or Strongly Disagree (SD) with it. Circle the response that you think best represents your views at this point in time.
Strongly Agree Mildly Agree Unsure Mildly Disagree Strongly Disagree
1 We are approaching the limit of the number of people the earth can support SA MA U MD SD
2. Humans have the right to modify the natural environment to suit their needs SA MA U MD SD
3. When humans interfere with nature it often produces disastrous consequences SA MA U MD SD
4. Human ingenuity will insure that we do NOT make the earth unlivable SA MA U MD SD
5. Humans are severely abusing the environment SA MA U MD SD
6. The earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them SA MA U MD SD
7. Plants and animals have as much right as humans to exist SA MA U MD SD
8. The balance of nature is strong enough to cope with the impacts of modem industrial nations SA MA U MD SD
9. Despite our special abilities humans are still subject to the laws of nature SA MA U MD SD
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10. The so-called "ecological crisis facing humankind
has been greatly exaggerated SA MA U MD SD
11. The earth is like a spaceship with only limited room and resources SA MA U MD SD
12. Humans were meant to rule over the rest of nature SA MA U MD SD
13. The balance of nature is vety delicate and easily upset SA MA U MD SD
14. Humans will eventually learn enough about how nature works to be able to control it SA MA U MD SD
15. If things continue on their present course, we will soon experience a major ecological catastrophe SA MA U MD SD
Section 2
This section you will be answenng multiple choice questions. Circle the best answer to each question
1. There are many different kinds of animals and plants, and they live in many different types of environments What is the word used to
describe this idea It is
A. Multiplicity
B. Biodiversity
C Socio-economics
D Evolution
E. Don't know
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2. Carbon monoxide is a major contributor to air pollution in the U S Which of the following is the biggest source of carbon monoxide? It
is...
A. Factories and Businesses
B. People Breathing
C Motor Vehicles
D Trees
E. Don't know
3. How is most of the electricity in the U S. generated? Is it...
A. By burning oil, coal and wood
B. With Nuclear power
C. Through solar energy
D At hydroelectnc power plants
E. Don't know
4. What is the most common cause of pollution of streams, nvers. and oceans? It is...
A. Dumping of garbage by cities
B. Surface water running off yards, city streets, paved lots and farm fields
C. Trash washed into the ocean from beaches
D Waste Dumped by factones
E. Don't know
5. Which of the following is a renewable resource? Is it...
A. at
B. Iron ore
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C. Trees
D. Coal
E. Don't know
6. Ozone forms a protective layer in the earths upper atmosphere. What does ozone protect us from? Is it...
A. Acid Rain
B. Global Warming
C. Sudden changes in temperature
D. Harmful, cancer-causing sunlight
E. Don't Know
7. Where does most of the garbage in the U.S. end up7 Is it...
A. Oceans
B. Incinerators
C. Recycling centers
D. Landfills
E. Don't know
8. What is the name of the primary federal agency that works to protect the environment? Is it..
A. Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA)
B. Department of Health, Environment and Safety (the DHES)
C. National Environmental Agency (the NEA)
D. Federal Pollution Control Agency (the FPCA)
E. Don't know
9. Which of the following household wastes is considered hazardous waste? Is it. ..
A. Plastic packaging
B Glass
C. Batteries
D. Spoiled food
E. Don't know
10. What is the most common reason that animal species become extinct? Is it because..
A. Pesticides killing them
B. Their habitats are being destroyed by humans
C. There is too much hunting
D. There are climate changes affecting them
E. Don't know
11. Scientists have not determined the best solution for the disposing of nuclear waste. In the U.S., what do we do with it now? Do we...
A. Use it as nuclear fuel
B. Sell it to other countnes
C. Dump it in landfills
D. Store and monitor the waste
E. Don't know
12. What is the primary benefit of wetlands? Do they..
A. Promote flooding
B. Help dean the water before it enters, lakes, streams, rivers or oceans
C. Help keep dean the number of undesirable plants and animals low
D. Provide good sites for landf lls
E. Don't know
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Table A. 1. NEETF/Roper Survey- Correct Multiple Choice Answers
Question Number Correct Answer
1. There are many different kinds of animals and plants, and they live in many different types of environments. What is the word used to describe this idea? It B. Biodiversity
is... 2. Carbon monoxide is a major contributor to air pollution in the U.S. Which of the following is the biggest source of carbon monoxide? It is... C. Motor Vehicles
3. How is most of the electricity in the U.S. generated? Is it... A. By burning oil, coal and wood
4. What is the most common cause of pollution of streams, rivers, and oceans? It is... B. Surface water running off yards, city streets, paved lots and farm fields
5. Which of the following is a renewable resource? Is it... C. Trees
6. Ozone forms a protective layer in the earths upper atmosphere. What does ozone protect us from? Is it... D. Harmful, cancer-causing sunlight
7. Where does most of the garbage in the U.S. end up? Is it... D. Landfills
8. What is the name of the primary federal agency that works to protect the environment? Is it... A. Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA)
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Table A.l (Cont)
Question Number Correct Answer
9. Which of the following household wastes is considered hazardous waste? Is it... 10. What is the most common reason that C. Batteries
animal species become extinct? Is it because... B. Their habitats are being destroyed by humans
11. Scientists have not determined the best solution for the disposing of nuclear waste. In the U.S., what do we do with it now? Do we... D.Store and monitor the waste
12. What is the primary benefit of wetlands? Do they... B. Help clean the water before it enters, lakes, streams, rivers or oceans
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APPENDIX B. INTERVIEWS
Interview 1
Members Interviewer 1, Interviewer 2, Student A and Student B
Interviewer 1-1 guess I am going to start by asking you some basic questions. Why
did you guys take ENVS 1042? Was it general education? Why?
A- Well I took it because it satisfied the general education but also because I was
curious to learn about the Environment
B- Mine was just a requirement for Geography major
1- Ok, um, So what, after taking this class what does environmental science mean to
you now?
B- The class in particular broadened my view of environmental impacts on a global
scale. I was, I more say things um locally and saw things that impacted me directly
and it really broadened my view of how we impact our environment globally
A- Yeah, I would have to agree that and also say that most of the classes teach about
certain areas like for example if you take a US history you take a history of a
particular country whereas when you study environmental science its uh,
multidisciplinary study that makes people see how the world is effected the whole
planet Earth is effected by what we do and, and things like pollution and just
everything that we create that we could overcome with if we didnt do some things. I
dont know, I started recycling ever since and I made my family, like all of them
recycle now and its a big change.
1 Good- um, so do you guys feel like there is any part of this class that helped you
learn more? Like the book, lecture or lab? Or was it all pretty equal, say that you kind
of took things from both? Combine them?
B- Yeah, I would think that the lab and the class went hand in hand. They were both
equally beneficial.
A- Yeah-1 thought that the book wasnt as much as beneficial as a lecture and a lab
because I read the book and I know a lot of people didnt, but I actually did. And I
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feel that, uh, the book was very interesting, but it was the same as what professor
talks about so its not really beneficial in that sense because just to refresh your
memory more not to give you anything new because hes really fast in the way he
talks and hes just like here, here, here and he gives all this information
1- Do you think they connected each other pretty well?
A- Yeah
1- Do you think they complemented each other?
A- Yeah
B-1 think The Professor gave a good points to study on during his lecture. He would
really emphasize things that he knew you were going to be tested on. And it was easy
because I didnt, Ill be honest I didnt read the book much past the first couple weeks
because I was getting everything from the lecture, and before the test I would go back
and look through my notes because, I, I take notes I read and write and, and usually
see it and its kinda like a process, so I would have a, Id get points from The
Professors lecture on things that I need to focus on and thats the parts that I would
read in the book.
A- And I was also thinking that the test was simplistic for this kind of level of you
know its college not high school, because when I was getting ready for the first test I
was just memorizing everything from the book and from the lecture and I was just
thinking, oh my god, and the test was easy and I thought too easy, So if I had to do
any input I would say make it more difficult for students.
B-1 would agree with that too, it wasnt much critical thought on the test it was all
multiple choice
A- Yeah
2- So, um, what was the role of the lab for both of you in terms of overall learning in
the course? What role did the lab experience play?
B- It was more of a hands on experience and thats where I think that the critical
thinking class came in, we were actually interacting and having to think beyond what
was being, beyond the material that was presented.
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A- Yeah, well I actually liked how in our lab with Instructor B, she um didnt make it
hard, but she made it fun. She made us all go around and do things and say things on
a particular topic or when we went outside and we collected leaves or we did this or
we did that and the journal we kept so, it was very interesting and it didnt and it
wasnt pressure, oh this is lab., because most of the people had the lab. So I actually
loved this lab compared to biology lab where I was stressing out. And I was just like
oh my goodness. I didn't know how Im going to pass this lab, and you know it was
just hard and this one was tun.
1- Do you feel like you learned more by being more active and kind-of not such a
structured lab?
B-Yeah
A- Yeah, I think everyone hates those labs when its just you know the questions and
you have to go by but you didnt really learn. Because some people, a lot of people,
dont learn by paper its, there is 3 ways of learning right? Visual, auditory and whats
the third one? Movement, like actions, yeah so, in that lab we got to do all 3 not just
one.
1- So, um, I realize both of you guys are both in the science field, but um, do you
think that environmental science is more accessible to you now that you understand it
a little better or have more connections to the environment? After taking this class?
B- Yeah, I think so, it could be just because you learned about all these environmental
aspects and shortly after you want to be a positive force for the environment, um, I
dont know if that will fade as you get further away from that but um, it definitely did
help awareness for sure.
A- Yeah, I feel like it made me want to see certain movies about the environment,
like I wend, I dont know after lecture I would go home and me and my friend were
watching this um, this movie about whales and different environmental movies that I
like, no impact man and all that and just because I was in this mood like, oh I wanna
do something or at least watch movies and tell other people about it and me and my
friend were thinking about ways, how one day we could maybe start some thing, you
know, environmental.
B- In a, I deftly paid more attention to news stories pertaining to the environment
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A- Yeah
2- When you say pay more attention was there a particular aspect of that you were...
B- um, before it was something that I would just half pay attention to you know like,
yeah well, but then it was like this might be kind of important and I would start
listening more and pay more attention and I would have more insight as to what they
were talking about
A-1 dont know it made me obsessive compulsive about turning off lights at my
house and you know like, at night, I would turn off the microwave like unplug it an I
still do that so and its been what? you know 2 months now and I still do that stuff and
I, like when, I take a shower ok Im going to turn it off when I shave and Im going to
do this when I brush my teeth, Im going to turn just more conscious as far as... yeah
1- Very good, this last- unless we can thing of some more questions, one of these last
questions is in of what we were just talking about; can you think of an instance where
you had to make a choice in your everyday like that would effect the environment?
And she just said brushing her teeth, what about you?
B- Um, power-strips, things like that. Conserving energy, um, lets see definitely
recycling more pay more attention to what Im throwing away
A- All that and probably just making people more aware. So many people dont really
even understand because, I dont know, I was remembering we had this dinner with
my family and I mean they are conscious people, but they werent conscious about
this and I was like guys you have a big house like a part of my family does, I dont, I
live in a small apartment, but I was just like, you have to you have this baby and all
this plastic things and I showed them her pictures of like what, how animals get stuck
in the plastic and just in general and then I remembered I was walking down the street
and I would pick up trash and put it.. So yeah, that kind of stuff
1- So what, if you were to restructure any part of this class, or add anything, or take
them away; what would you suggest? So if you were to add something more to the
class what would you like to learn more about or change, I guess? Other then you
guys suggested changing the tests and lecture. Anything else?
A- Well from the lecture, sometimes its probably one of the largest lectures as far as
not the time, because he would let us out early, but he rushed things to let us out
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earlier, sometimes I feel like some of the slides were, were just people didnt want to
pay attention so detail and then test so, if I would say maybe instead of having, you
know like so many pages of lecture, like 16 pages double sided 40 slides
B- 60 slides per power point
A- 60 slides- and usually teaches have like 20 or 30 per lecture and then some of it
was like rush, rush, rush, and then ok we get out of class 20 min early- which
everyone loves that so I wouldnt want to suggest for other students not to have that,
because that would be a bummer, but maybe slow down a little bit and take out the
things that are not important or students dont catch-eye. Or maybe put more pictures
because he would skip pictures. He will go um, we and will go and say ok well this is
it and just skip it. So maybe stop and explain. I dont know
B-1 think class size maybe has something to do with it too, that class was huge
A-Yeah
B- And uh, I think it; it could be more impactful with a smaller class size. Um, there
was no questions asked during class there was no um, no interaction with The
Professor at all during class, unless at the very beginning every now and again there
would be current event type of discussions which would last 3-5 minutes but um,
beyond that there was no real contact with The Professor or interaction. I think that
would be beneficial. If the class was just half the size or it was a few less people I
think it would be a little more intimate. I think you would have got a lot more out of
the class.
2- It seems like what you are saying is some of the things that you really enjoyed in
the labs, in the smaller class size, the interactions with your TAs, was something that
really benefitted both of you. Do you think that is something youd like to see in the
lecture as well? I mean is that were your kind of going with...
B- well Im taking more, um, I have had a lot of intro classes last semester and this
semester Im taking more upper level classes and there 25-35 people and I feel like I
have more access to the professor, more ability to ask questions more, uh, I mean the
class seems that id can go in different directions were as to where interests lie. The
students and things like that instead of just standing up and getting a broad lecture
and then, um, I mean thats, thats were I can see how it would be more, it would be
improved, a smaller class size
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A- Well I was thinking about, it doesnt bother me to have a big class room, um, for
an introductory class and I think for people who are interested there is gunna, you
know going a next, like next level for this class and then there are going to have a
smaller class room, because school resources also you know, dont provide that
opportunity for many teachers.
B- Yeah and I understand why some people are just in there for a science credit too,
and, but if your intention is to really make them aware, have an impact on how they
like, I think that a smaller class size would be beneficial
1- Do you think the labs played a role on some peoples lives?
B-Yeah
1- More then lecture?
B- Yeah I think so, more so then lecture, yeah
A yeah and also I was going to say that, that project the final project, in the lab I felt
that if we held that due maybe at the middle art of it due, in the middle- or half of it
you, because I felt like people bonded, a lot during the last two labs sessions because
they had this shared, what they were researching or their poems, or their drawings or
whatever, in our lab and it was and I felt like OH! I dont want to say goodbye now
because I kinda know people as opposed to you know if, if they did it a little but, if
you guys did it in the middle. Ok were gunna go over what were working on and to
check with people because some people werent ready? And maybe that would help.
2- Do you both feel that bond, that youre talking about was an important part of
learning especially in the lab?
A- Yeah and I felt like we just bonded and then we left. Thats how I felt.
B-Yeah, I didnt, I hadnt thought about it in that way, but yeah I would agree that- an
exercise or something like that at the beginning were you have to work together
A- so maybe have more, little research things, instead of saying ok at the end we are
going to turn in this journal and everyone doesnt due it up until the last day, or not
everyone. I tried to do mine but some people didnt and I would fell that if we had a
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weekly, oh ok, every week in the lab we are going to take 5 min to talk about the
environment issues and something like that maybe would be more just
2- Just one more question- would you recommend to people this coming to UCD to
take 1042 and what would be the reason why, you would, if you, said this is a class
you should take, what would be the reason you would recommend this class?
B- um honestly, I think it was an easy A. Um [laughs] it really was and Ive actually
talked to people where were talking about taking the class and I was like- yeah take it,
it is an easy A. Um, I thought a lot of it was common sense and a lot of it was just,
um, I mean there was something that I didnt know about and uh, I think its a good
awareness tool for sure. I think everybody should take it just for that purpose.
A- Well I was, when I was, I was recommended this class because I head it was and
east A but the person I heard that from didnt ever go to lecture he just, you know
read the book before exams or whatever.-1 dont now. Printed out slide, but I actually
think that the professor The Professor, he-his charisma that appeals to students and
even when they dont listen they kinda listen, it, and it makes sense. He just has as
this good way with students and joking and humor and you know but, being very
serious about issues and very passionate about it and leading by an example- because
you cant really be a environmental speaker unless you live by it and you can tell he
does. So I would recommend this professor, I dont know if theres has a different
professor if I liked it as much because I did like him. I just think that he should have
maybe slowed down sometimes and but other than that I like, I would recommend it
because professor, I would say you know The Professor is a great professor take this
class
1- Thank you very much for participating. We really appreciate it.
Interview 2
Interviewer 1 and Student C
1-1 will ask you this question, so youre a science major correct?
C- Oh, um, environmental studies
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1- of you weren't a science person and you had to take a general education class in
science would you choose environmental science over Biology or Chemistry and
why?
C- Um, I would, yeah its um, it doesnt focus so much on the math and formulas and
all that, its more general concepts. Um, I have taken Biologys and Chemistries and
all that and taken environmental science course it was definitely a lot easier, um, it
was just basic general concepts rather then specific cell bio and this does this...
1- Good- yeah- that is how I would answer as well... um- did the information you
learned in 1042, did it help you learn more about the environment or...
C- It did, um, I already had a little bit of basic understanding of a little bit of
everything. It kinda built on that more um, and it definitely build on some of the
concepts I already knew on more specific like... carrying capacity and that kind of
stuff
1-1 dont know if you, hat do you think helped you learn the most in that class? Was
it the book, the lecture, the lab or kind of a combination of everything together?
C-Um, kinda a combination, the book not as much as the lecture and the lab. Probably
the lab because its more hands on that the kind of learning style I have- hands on
1 Do you think they made, um, do you think the lab and the lecture were pretty
connected? Do you think they complemented each other?
C- they were, yeah, um, once in a while there was different topics covered in each on
like, like once in a while lab cover a topic a little more, cover different areas more in-
depth then lecture did, I guess...
1- Would you say in general after taking even this basic science class that you could
relate more to science? Do you think that maybe science is a little more accessible
after that class?
C- Yeah, I think so. I already had a little bit of basics in science, but it taught me a
little about the scientific method and, and stuff like that. How the scientific process
actually works, theories and stuff like that, I think.
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1- So, I know you have a science background, so some of these questions are kinda
difficult to answer, but before you took this class where was the main place that you
got information about science? And the environment?
C- Science Channel
1- Did you ever have any other media sources like local news of CNN or science
times or anything like that?
C- No so much,
1-Mostly TV?
C- Mostly TV and my Data because hes kinda in the field
1- Ok, so this is a big question- can you think of an instance when you had to make a
choice in your everyday like that could effect the environment and describe that
C-I always kinda feel bad about driving my car now, its not very gas efficient and um,
I try to drive a little more responsibly, with out high revs and full throttle and stuff
like that anymore. Um, and I try to be conscious about recycling the products that I
buy like, for example I just bought this yesterday, my coffee mug, something like
25% recycled, BPA free and all that. Or my water jug, its reusable, metal/aluminum
container, its not filling up landfills with plastic and stuff like that.
1- So those choices now that you made, did you, did the things that you learned in the
class help you make those decisions or other things that you had already been
thinking about?
C- Id say about half and half, um, the class definitely made me more aware of of,
um, environmental issues and stuff like that, but, um, I guess... society itself is kinda
leaning towards that kind of stuff as well. Like commercials you see talk about like,
um, environmentally safe things and stuff like that so, I think media in general is kind
of trying to imprint a little bit of that into our heads anyway.
1- Do if there were anything that you would change about the class what would it be?
Lecture, book? Anything?
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C- The main thing that sticks out in my mead is, um, I know there not a whole lot that
could be done about this, I think the class was fine how it was, but the actual lecture
class size was huge, it was something like 160 people and I still learned a lot, it just
wasnt a very one on one lecture. Its not like a small class size, I guess thats what I
mean
1- Would you prefer a smaller class size?
C-1 do prefer a smaller class size, but I know resources can be limited and stuff like
that and everybody wants to take that class. There is only so many instructors that
teach that class Im sure, um, The Professor was great I really enjoyed he teaching
style. Your lab was good. I dont have any complaints
1- Do you think that after taking, do you think that this class did a good job of
connecting the environment to your personal life? Do you think a lot of people made
those connections?
C-1 do. Especially in lab. We kina did hands on things like with the talks about
composting, everyday things that we can do around the house.
1- Is there anything you would add to this class? Other then making it smaller?
C- Um, I cant really think of anything
1- Do you have anything else you want to say in general?
C-1 dont think so. After taking this class with The Professor I definitely wanted to
take other classes with the professor, I am this semester
Concluding talk
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APPENDIX C. STUDENT EXPLORATION EXAMPLES
The following two compositions are examples of explorations done by
students in ENVS 1042. All students are required to do a short exploration on some
environmental topic that they are interested in and then present their findings to their
peers. The main purpose of this assignment is for students to research something they
are interested in, that they may not necessarily take the time to look into said subject.
The other side effect is to educate the other students in the class about environmental
issues. The following are two examples of students explorations into Denver,
Colorados local infrastructure. Both explorations were collected as normal class
material and have been reproduced with students permission.
Exploration Example I: Grape Expectations
Located in an area of Denver known as Park Hill there is a small wine shop on
Kearney Street called Grape Expectations. The neighborhood has been expanding and
improving for the last fifteen years and Grape Expectations been there expanding and
improving along with it. Owned by John King and run by himself and his daughter
Katie and son Matt, they have seen their small business outgrow its first location and
move into another where it has swelled to capacity there as well. However, with the
growth of their business came growing problems including the amount of waste.
We felt we needed to do the right thing environmentally and also socially as the
neighborhood began to move into a greener outlook, as well, said Matt King.
Deciding to take this new direction the family decided to take on a three yard
recycling bin in October of 2008 and saw a difference right away. Before they started
their recycling efforts trash was collected every week and was full to overflowing at
every pickup. The establishment now only has trash pick up every other week and
even then only a few bags to offer the collector. The recycling bin, however, is
emptied every week and is at capacity very time the collector comes, switching to a
recycling regime along with the rash pick up was also done with no additional cost to
the business. Trash only pick up was $80 a month while adding the recycling bins
remains $80 a month for the two, due to the less frequent trash pick ups.
The King family estimates their cardboard waste at more then 30 boxes a day
and over 200 for the week, which nearly doubles during the holiday seasons in order
83


to keep up with demand of those looking for a little holiday cheer. This amounts to
over 10,000 boxes recycled rather then added to our local landfill each year. Aside
form the cardboard, other paper products, glass bottles, and aluminum cans are
include in the business, more environmentally friendly practices.
Recycling of cardboard is not the only way the shop is keeping its green
attitude. Many wine and beer boxes get reused in the store. Many customers purchase
more then a bag-able quantity of items which makes the boxes very useful. Other
patrons will come into the store for the purposes of the boxes only. Many regular
customers have taken stacks of boxes home to use in moving or storage. There is
uncertainty, however, if those boxes are then being recycled by their new possessors.
Matt King also said that the shop does not want to stop there but would like to
extend their recycling and environmental practiced in the future to other areas.
Wed like to find a way to limit the amount of paper and plastic bags used in
the store, he said. Cloth bags and recycled paper bags were two of the suggestions he
offered.
The family continues to consider new more modem solutions to the growing
concerns of waste management and environmental responsibility and I am pound to
be an employee of theirs.
Exploration Example II: Recycling dumpster at my apartment building.
When I looked over the various options for these explorations, one option
stood out to me more than any other- to get my landlord to place a large recycling
dumpster at my apartment building. I live in a great apartment complex in Capitol
Hill, it was built at the turn of the century with a very progressive kind of architecture
for the time. The building was home to the beatnik writer, Jack Kerouac when he
wrote On the Road, perhaps his most famous work of literature, my landlord lives in
the building with his gay partner. The building is now home to many gay and lesbian
couples- which is indicative of the progressive neighborhood that it is located within.
With all the progression that my location is apart of, there was one facet of non-
progression that we bothering me; the lack of a recycling dumpster. When I saw this
option for my exploration, I took it as a sign. So I asked my landlord if we could get a
recycling dumpster for our two buildings and all or our residence. He told me that he
believed that there would be a cost involved for such a thing. I told him that we could
84


divide the cost evenly amongst the tenants, or evenly amongst the people willing to
pay to have a recycling dumpster. He told me that he would look into it, and get back
to me as soon as possible.
As fate would have it, a small commercial building from across the alley put a
recycling dumpster literally five steps from our buildings garbage dumpster. This
happened two days after I asked my landlord if we could get a recycling dumpster.
Later that week, as I was passing by my landlords apartment, he saw me and asked
me if I had seen the recycling dumpster from across the alley. I told him that I had,
and asked him if he thought we could use it. He told me that he didnt think that it
would be a problem if I used it, but he wasnt going to tell the rest of the building to
use it. I decided to take the initiative and ask the building manager from across the
alley if our apartment complex could use the recycling dumpster as well. I met the
owner of the business that was operated out of the commercial building, but not the
building owner. The owner of the business said that they produced very little
recycling material- and that they would never even come close to filling that
dumpster. He said that he would as the building owner if it was copacetic, but to go
ahead and begin to use the dumpster, and he would tell me if it wasnt allowed.
And so began the use of the recycling dumpster. But nobody else in the
building was using it, so I again had to take the initiative to make my building aware
that we could use the recycling dumpster. I mad four handwritten notes that I put at
each of the two buildings. They said Tenants, we have permission to use the
recycling dumpster from across the alley, so PLEASE put your papers, plastics,
glasses and aluminum in the recycling dumpster. In fine print on the bottom of each
flyer, I wrote Its Easy. i have noticed that people have been using the recycling
dumpster more and more. The dumpster had almost completely filled up prior to its
last pick-up.
It is a small difference that I made. But a million small differences make for a
huge difference. I know that it is cliche to say that, but cliches are cliches because
they are universally true.
Exploration Example II, Part B.: Parents and Compost Bin
I had to convince my father to get a bin for biodegradable waste. My
stepmother wanted one for months, but my father refused to look into getting one. I
did the research, and found (on denvergov.org) that compost collection is fee. All you
85


have to do is get the bin, fill it, and let the organization know when they need to pick
it up in the front of your house. My stepmother sent her first bin collected not too
long ago, and she plans to continue to fill the bins for time to come.
Again, a small difference was made; but many small differences can make a
large one. I believe that many of the environmental issues we face today can begin to
be solved on the individual level. We must rely on ourselves to solve the problems
that we create. Let us not wait on government policy, let us act on our own will.
86


APPENDIX D. IRB APPROVAL LETTER
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88


APPENDIX E. SUPPLAMENTARY DATA TABLES
Table E.l. Demographic Raw Data
Age N Race/Ethnicity N Sex N Year in School N Major N
18-21 20 Unidentified 6 Male 14 Fresh. 1 Science 9
22-25 20 Korean 1 Fe male 29 Soph. 16 Non- 34
Science
26-30 2 Asian 1 Jr. 14
31-35 1 Hispanic 1 Sr. 12
White 34
Table E.l Describes the raw data collected in the ENVS 1042 cohort of Fall 2009.
Table E.2. Means Procedure on demographic data and pre and post NEETF/Roper
and NEP scores
Variable Label N Mean Std Dev Minimum Maximum
Age Age 43 1.627 0.690 1.0 4.0
Female Female 43 0.674 0.474 0 1.0
White White 43 1.000 0.690 0 4.0
Yr in School Yr in School 43 2.860 0.861 1.0 4.0
Major Major 43 0.209 0.411 0 1.0
PreNEETF PreNEETF 43 7.441 3.111 0 12.0
PostNEETF PostNEETF 43 9.232 2.706 0 12.0
PreNEP PreNEP 43 54.93 10.388 32 74
PostNEP PostNEP 43 57.81 10.610 31 74
Table E.2 Describes the statistics from a means analysis procedure on the raw data set. The
columns represent the number of variables in the data set (N), the mean of the variable
(Mean), the standard deviation (Std Dev), the minimum value in the data set (Minimum) and
the maximum value in the data set (Maximum). The variable definitions are as follows: (See
chapter 4 for details on all variables) Age= categorize age of respondents Female= sex of
respondent White= Race/Ethnicity of respondents Yr in School = categorize year in
college Major= categorize major into science and non-science PreNEETF and Post
NEETF= pre and post scores on the NEETF/Roper survey PreNEP and Post NEP = pre and
post scores on the NEP survey
89


Table E.3. Regression of pre NEETF/Roper scores and demographic data
Variable* Label DF Parameter Estimate Standard Error t Value Pr>ltl
Intercept Intercept 1 6.757 2.093 3.32 0.0026
Age Age 1 -1.157 0.856 -1.35 0.1845
Female Female 1 -1.366 1.050 -1.30 0.2013
White White 1 -0.291 0.709 -0.41 0.6835
Yr in School Yr in School 1 1.196 0.5848 2.05 0.0480
Major Major 1 1.722 1.360 1.27 0.2135
Table E.5 Describes the statistics for the regression analysis comparing pre NEETF/Roper
Scores to demographic data variables. The p-value {Pr >ItI) are less than p=0.05 which
indicates there is not a statistically significant correlation between pre NEETF/Roper scores
and demographic categories. Table E. *See Table E.2 for definitions of the variables, and
chapter 4 for descriptions of all variables
See Table E.2 for definitions of the variables, and chapter 4 for descriptions of all variables
Table E.4. Regression of post NEETF/Roper scores and demographic data
Variable* Label DF Parameter Estimate Standard Error t Value Pr> It l
Intercept Intercept 1 11.059 1.862 5.94 <.0001
Age Age 1 -0.724 0.761 -0.95 0.3480
Female Female 1 0.160 0.934 0.17 0.8647
White White 1 -1.008 0.630 -1.60 0.1183
Yr in School Yr in School 1 0.067 0.520 0.13 0.8980
Major Major 1 0.288 1.210 0.24 0.8131
Table E.4 Describes the statistics for the regression analysis comparing post NEETF/Roper
Scores to demographic data variables. The p-value (Pr >ItI) are less than p=0.05 which
indicates there is not a statistically significant correlation between post NEETF/Roper scores
and demographic categories. Table E. *See Table E.2 for definitions of the variables, and
chapter 4 for descriptions of all variables
90