Environmental, Institutional, and Demographic Predictors of Environmental Literacy among Middle School Children

dc.contributor Middle Tennessee State University. Sociology and Anthropology Department. en_US
dc.contributor.author Stevenson, Kathryn T. en_US
dc.contributor.author Peterson, M. Nils en_US
dc.contributor.author Bondell, Howard D. en_US
dc.contributor.author Mertig, Angela G. en_US
dc.contributor.author Moore, Susan E. en_US
dc.contributor.author Patterson, Randen Lee en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2014-06-24T15:48:44Z
dc.date.available 2014-06-24T15:48:44Z
dc.date.issued 2013-02-15 en_US
dc.description.abstract Building environmental literacy (EL) in children and adolescents is critical to meeting current and emerging environmental challenges worldwide. Although environmental education (EE) efforts have begun to address this need, empirical research holistically evaluating drivers of EL is critical. This study begins to fill this gap with an examination of school-wide EE programs among middle schools in North Carolina, including the use of published EE curricula and time outdoors while controlling for teacher education level and experience, student attributes (age, gender, and ethnicity), and school attributes (socio-economic status, student-teacher ratio, and locale). Our sample included an EE group selected from schools with registered school-wide EE programs, and a control group randomly selected from NC middle schools that were not registered as EE schools. Students were given an EL survey at the beginning and end of the spring 2012 semester. Use of published EE curricula, time outdoors, and having teachers with advanced degrees and mid-level teaching experience (between 3 and 5 years) were positively related with EL whereas minority status (Hispanic and black) was negatively related with EL. Results suggest that school-wide EE programs were not associated with improved EL, but the use of published EE curricula paired with time outdoors represents a strategy that may improve all key components of student EL. Further, investments in teacher development and efforts to maintain enthusiasm for EE among teachers with more than 5 years of experience may help to boost student EL levels. Middle school represents a pivotal time for influencing EL, as improvement was slower among older students. Differences in EL levels based on gender suggest boys and girls may possess complementary skills sets when approaching environmental issues. Our findings suggest ethnicity related disparities in EL levels may be mitigated by time spent in nature, especially among black and Hispanic students. en_US
dc.identifier.citation PLoS ONE. 2013 Feb 15;8(3):e59519 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://jewlscholar.mtsu.edu/handle/mtsu/4245
dc.rights This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. en_US
dc.title Environmental, Institutional, and Demographic Predictors of Environmental Literacy among Middle School Children en_US
dc.type Research Article en_US
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