ERIC Identifier: ED320759
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Howe, Robert W. - Disinger, John F.
Clearinghouse for Science Mathematics and Environmental Education Columbus OH.
Teaching Environmental Education Using Out-of-School Settings
and Mass Media. ERIC/SMEAC Environmental Education Digest No. 1, 1988.
Research related to environmental education has consistently indicated that
many students and young adults attribute a large amount of their knowledge of
environmental concepts, problems, and issues to out-of-school (non-formal)
educational settings and experiences. Data also indicate that students and young
adults attribute much of their attitudes and values to similar experiences. When
a school provides strong environmental education experiences or programs the
impact of out-of-school experiences decrease, yet remain very significant (Iozzi
and others, 1981; Iozzi and others, 1984).
WHAT SETTINGS AND EXPERIENCES ARE INCLUDED IN OUT-OF-SCHOOL ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION?
The field of out-of-school (non-formal)
environmental education is broad and eclectic. Out-of-school education is
usually defined as education that occurs in parks, nature centers, museums,
aquaria, arboreta, public gardens, forest areas, wildlife refuges, camps,
communities, and the home when the experiences are not part of a formal
school-based program. It also includes mass media including television, radio,
newspapers, and magazines when used at these sites or other non-school sites.
Goals and purposes of out-of-school environmental education programs are
equally diverse. Some practitioners emphasize environmental awareness, while
others emphasize acquiring knowledge, skill development, problem solving, and
WHAT ARE SOME EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES AND SETTINGS FOR USE IN OUT-OF-SCHOOL ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION? LEARNING ENVIRONMENTAL CONCEPTS
Research data indicate out-of-school
experiences can be effective in helping students develop accurate concepts
related to the environment . Real and familiar environments appear to be more
effective than unfamiliar environments unless pre-visit instruction is provided.
Pre-instructional materials that provide an overview of what is to be done and
what may be learned help to improve learning in nearly all settings and with
A variety of out-of-school settings have been used effectively for developing
environmental knowledge and concepts. Successful settings have included
woodlands, zoos, community areas, environmental centers, and outdoor
laboratories. These settings are most effective because they emphasize real
objects and relationships between objects that individuals can see.
Data from studies reported in two reviews (Iozzi and others, 1981; Iozzi and
others, 1984) indicate that many students report the mass media (primarily
television) as their major source of environmental knowledge. For most adults,
mass media is rated as an even more important source of environmental knowledge.
LEARNING ENVIRONMENTAL ATTITUDES AND VALUES
A variety of
instructional approaches in out-of-school settings have been found to be
effective for encouraging positive environmental attitudes and values. Outdoor
education experiences (including those at zoos, parks, caves, lakes, forests,
and coastal areas) have been found to make a significant impact on the attitudes
and values of students. Data also indicate that mass media, particularly
television, has made a significant impact on students attitudes and values.
Among the instructional strategies that have been found to be effective in
these settings for influencing the affective domain are case studies, field
trips, community inventory projects, and community action projects. Preactivity
and post activity experiences have been successful in helping to make the
experiences more effective.
LEARNING ISSUE AWARENESS
Students frequently report mass
media, especially television, as their major source of information on
environmental issues. The exception to this finding tends to be when schools
have established formal course experiences dealing with issues.
Studies regarding sources of information on environmental issues for adults
indicate the same pattern; mass media, especially television, is the major
source of information for them. Magazines and newspapers are also cited as major
sources of information by adults.
Strategies that have been found effective for increasing awareness of issues
by use of mass media include case studies, trend analysis, and issue analysis.
Outdoor settings have also been effective in teaching awareness of
environmental issues. Strategies such as field trips to selected sites with
environmental problems, action projects, and case studies are among the
experiences that have been most effective.
LEARNING ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION SKILLS
A substantial amount
of out-of-school environmental education activity and research has involved
environmental action activities. Most have been designed to improve some aspect
of the environment and develop individuals with more positive environmental
attitudes and responsible environmental behavior.
Many studies, especially those using positive reinforcement (incentives) and
negative reinforcement (fines, restricted activity), report treatments are
effective in encouraging the desired environmental behavior. The effectiveness
of the techniques, however, differs with different issues.
Reviewers of research (Iozzi, et al. 1981; Hungerford, 1984) report that many
of the action activities dealt with relatively minor environmental problems
(picking up litter, etc.) and that activities ought to focus on more serious
problems (water pollution, hazardous wastes, population problems). Reports in
more recent conference proceedings of The North American Association for
Environmental Education (NAEE) indicate this is occurring.
Involving people in working to solve real environmental problems is clearly a
role out-of-school organizations can use to help improve the environment and to
develop environmental action skills. The educational value of these activities
could be improved by including issue analysis activities such as those developed
by Hungerford and his associates (Hungerford, 1985) and/or materials developed
by Iozzi (Iozzi, 1987).
TRENDS IN OUT-OF-SCHOOL ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
past two years, there has been a resurgence in out-of-school environmental
education activities. This has been due to increased visibility and concern
about local, national, and global environmental problems.
There has been an increase in the use of out-of-school settings for
environmental education by both schools and non-formal organizations during the
past several years.
Data indicate the mass media has provided more time on television and radio
and more space in newspapers and magazines for environmental topics than in the
late 1970's and early 1980's.
Organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, and others have been
providing more emphasis on activities related to environmental quality and
Several organizations in cities have developed centers for science, natural
history, and related areas. Others have developed or expanded aquariums, zoos,
wildlife areas, parks, and natural areas.
The importance of out-of-school educational experiences has been highlighted
by increased financial support from federal agencies such as the National
Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education; while this support has
been for science and technology related activities, several of the projects
supported have included environmental education. The United States Environmental
Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior have also been involved in
out-of-school environmental education activities and exploring ways to expand
their support for these programs.
Out-of-school environmental education experiences
account for a significant amount of what most people know about the environment,
their attitudes and values toward the environment, their knowledge of
environmental issues, and their knowledge of environmental actions.
Research data indicate ways to improve these experiences. Use of this
information can help agencies and organizations achieve better results from
their activities and be more effective in imparting environmental knowledge and
motivating people to action.
The data also indicate that for school-age individuals these experiences can
be combined very effectively with formal school programs and enhance the
learning obtained from both. Schools and out-of-school organizations should work
together to use the strengths of each organization, their resources, and
The documented effectiveness of the mass media in reaching all age groups
suggests that more planned programing should be done, especially through
television and newspapers, for environmental education purposes. The potential
of media clearly has not been used.
There are also several implications for school programs.
l. There is clearly a need to provide better environmental
education programs (K-12) and to provide more time for
environmental concepts,values, issues and skills.
2. Schools should develop cooperative programs with
out-of-school organizations, particularly mass media,
and organizations with unique sites in their own area.
The potential for extending the schools impact and for
providing unique experiences is great.
3. Schools should provide more instruction on the evaluation
and use of information obtained through the mass media.
Disinger, John F., Ed. and John Opie,
Ed. Environmental Education: Progress Toward a Sustainable Future, Selected
Papers from the 14th Annual Conference of the National Association for
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Hungerford, Harold R. and Others. Investigating and Evaluating Environmental
Issues and Actions: Skill Development Modules. A Curriculum Development Project
Designed to Teach Students How To Investigate and Evaluate Sci-Related Social
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Iozzi, Louis, Ed. Research in Environmental Education, 1971-1980. ERIC/SMEAC,
Columbus, OH, 1981. ED 214 762.
Iozzi, Louis, Ed.; Clint L. Shepard, Ed. Building Multicultural Webs through
Environmental Education. Selected Papers from the 17th Annual Conference of
National Association for Environmental Education. Orlando, Florida, October
14-19, 1988. ED 308 089.
Mann, Lori D. and Others. Excellence in Environmental Education: Gaining
Momentum for the Challenge Ahead. Selected Papers from the 16th Annual
Conference of National Association for Environmental Education. Quebec City,
Quebec, Canada, October 16-21, 1987. ED 301 417.
Marcinkowski, Thomas J. Environmental Education Research Related to
Ecological Foundations, in Iozzi, Louis, Ed. Summary of Research in
Environmental Education, 1971-1982: Monographs in Environmental Education and
Environmental Studies, Volume 2, ERIC/SMEAC, Columbus, OH, 1984. ED 259 879.
McCrea, Edward J. and Glenn D. Weaver. Nonformal Environmental Education: An
Overview and Methodology for Evaluation in Monographs in Environmental Education
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Specca, Lisa Yount and Louis A. Iozzi. Environmental Education Research
Related to the Affective Domain, in Iozzi, Louis, Ed. Summary of Research in
Environmental Education, 1971-1982: Monographs in Environmental Education and
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Wisenmayer, Randall L. and Others. Environmental Education Research Related
to Issue Awareness, in Iozzi, Louis, Ed. Summary of Research in Environmental
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