The Social/ Cultural Influences on Environmental Understandings of NSW School Students

Year: 2000


Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The study reported in this paper emerged from a concern that despite twenty years of theorising about the practice of environmental education in Australian schools it continues to be marginalised in the school curriculum. The educational problem we set out to solve was how to improve the teaching and learning of environmental education in schools and the broader community in Australia.

The aims of environmental education are well documented and there is little doubt that environmental educators would agree that environmental education in schools is an important strategy in achieving environmental improvement. Numerous curriculum programs have been developed to assist teachers in the implementation of environmental education in their classrooms. However, little is known about the environmental understandings held by children. Currently environmental programs are being developed based on assumptions of what children know and what they believe. Clearly, more effective programs could be developed if children's environmental understandings and beliefs were known.

This paper reports on research in progress. A research instrument was developed from qualitative data. This instrument in the form of a survey was completed by 2 249 students in Years 3,6,8 and 11 across New South Wales.