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ERIC Number: ED558618
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 368
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3032-6107-7
The Effects of In-Nature and Virtual-Nature Field Trip Experiences on Proenvironmental Attitudes and Behaviors, and Environmental Knowledge of Middle School Students
Ferderbar, Catherine A.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Cardinal Stritch University
To develop sustainable solutions to remediate the complex ecological problems of earth's soil, water, and air degradation requires the talents and skills of knowledgeable, motivated people (UNESCO, 1977; UNESCO, 2010). Researchers historically emphasized that time spent in outdoor, nature activities (Wells & Lekies, 2006), particularly with an adult mentor (Chawla & Cushing, 2007), promotes environmental knowledge and nature-relatedness, precursors to environmental literacy. Research has also demonstrated that technology is integral to the lives of youth, who spend 7:38 hours daily (Rideout, et al., 2010), engaged in electronics. Educators would benefit from knowing if in-nature and virtual-nature field trip experiences provide comparable levels of knowledge and connectedness, to nurture student proenvironmentalism. To investigate field trip phenomena, the researcher studied the impact of virtual-nature and in-nature experiences during which students analyzed water quality along Midwestern rivers. The quasi-experimental, mixed method convergent parallel design with a purposeful sample (n=131) of middle school students from two Midwestern K-8 schools, utilized scientist participant observer field records and narrative response, written assessment aligned to field trip content to evaluate knowledge acquisition. To gain insight into student environmental dispositions, participant observers recorded student comments and behaviors throughout field trips. A survey, administered Pre-Treatment, Post-Treatment 1 and Post-Treatment 2, focused on family water-related behaviors and student perceptions of the need for local government water protection. The findings demonstrated both field trips increased content knowledge significantly, with large effect size. Content knowledge gain from one experience transferred to and was augmented by the second experience. Skill gain (technical and observational) varied by type of field trip and did not transfer. Technical skill was often paired with critical thinking/reasoning. Survey results demonstrated that the virtual-nature, in-nature order evinced a greater proenvironmental attitude and behavioral change. The initial experience provided greater proenvironmental impact, regardless of order. Several students exhibited a Connection to Life Experience that reinforced their nature-relatedness during either field trip. These findings inform best practices associated with environmental education. The implications include teacher-practitioner collaboration with IT personnel, naturalists, hydrologists, zoological and botanical experts, to design local, site-based virtual-nature and in-nature (or hybrid) field trips to nurture environmental literacy goals. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A