The National Envirothon Environmental Literacy Evaluation
Meredith, K. Kathryn
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
MetadataShow full item record
The Envirothon is an outdoor environmental problem-solving competition for high school students. Teams of five are tested on their knowledge and skills in five areas: aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife and current environmental issues. The Wisconsin Environmental Literacy Assessment, a validated instrument designed at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, was given to participants from eight states. A modified pretest/posttest control group design was used to determine: (1) the effects of Envirothon involvement on levels of environmental literacy, (2) whether R-states (states with regional and state level competitions) and 5-states (states with state level competitions only) differ in effects on environmental literacy and (3) differences in effects of single versus multiple years of participation on environmental literacy gains made by participants. Affective, behavioral and cognitive components of environmental literacy were assessed. Questions ancillary to the main focus of the evaluation addressed (1) the effects on participants' perceived knowledge and interest in natural resource professions and (2) differences between participants and non-participant in knowledge of natural resource agencies. Envirothon participants demonstrated higher pretest and posttest scores in all areas of environmental literacy than non-participants. Analysis of test results showed that participation in the Envirothon has no effect on pre to posttest scores for components of environmental literacy related to environmental sensitivity and attitudes and predictors of environmentally responsible behavior (efficacy beliefs). Participants did demonstrate significant gains in the components of environmental literacy associated with knowledge of ecological principles, problems and issues, and knowledge of issue investigation and action strategies. Control group members demonstrated no significant gains for any component of environmental literacy from pre to posttest. R-state and S-state participants' pretest scores were not significantly different for any component of environmental literacy. Posttest results showed that R-state and 5- state participants did not score significantly different for components of environmental literacy associated with environmental sensitivity and attitudes, predictors of environmentally responsible behavior (efficacy beliefs), and knowledge of issue investigation and action strategies. Posttest scores for the two subgroups were significantly different in the areas of knowledge of ecological principles, problems and issues. Both groups demonstrated significant pre to posttest gains. Although gains made by R-state participants were 1.77 points higher on average than S-state participants for the 37 items in this section, this difference was not significant. Only those participants from R-states who advanced to the State Envirothon were posttested. This may account for the variations in posttest score between the two groups. Analysis of the results suggests that gains made in the area of knowledge of ecological principles, problems and issues associated with participation in the Envirothon increase with consecutive years of participation in the program. These gains were significant for the first two years of participation. Sample size for fourth year participants was very small, making analysis difficult. Envirothon participants reported significantly greater perceived knowledge of and interest in natural resource professions than non-participants. This perceived knowledge and interest increased significantly from pre to posttest for Envirothon participants but not for non-participants. Envirothon participants reported greater perceived knowledge of natural resource agencies than non-participants for both pretest and posttests. Both groups however, reported significant pre to posttest gains.