An Evaluation of the Impact that Hands-on Learning has on Environmental Literacy, Attitudes and Behaviors for 11th and 12th Grade Ecology and Environmental Students
Rankin, Nicholas A.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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Hands-on learning has had a place in education since the dawn of mankind. This research sought to determine whether experiential learning in the form of field trips and other in-class, hands-on learning activities has the potential to positively impact environmental literacy, as well as promote more pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors amongst those participating in the learning experiences. The research was done on 27 high school juniors and seniors who were enrolled in a nine-week ecology and environmental science course at Little Chute High School. Students were given a pre-assessment at the start of the course to gather baseline data on environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. The students then participated in a variety of hands-on learning experiences developed by the researcher and were assessed again at the end of the nine weeks to establish growth in all three areas outlined above. Overall, the results of the study indicate positive changes in each area being evaluated. On average, environmental literacy scores increased 22% over the nine-week period. Similarly, the students surveyed showed growth in both environmental empathy and environmental stewardship, demonstrating an average improvement of 5.25% and 14%, respectively, in each of these areas.