University of Tasmania
whole_JeaysDavidReid1979_thesis.pdf (3.16 MB)

An investigation of environmental knowledge and attitudes involving the design of a test instrument and its use with grade eleven students in Brisbane

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posted on 2023-05-26, 20:56 authored by Jeays, DR
The study details the environmental education opportunities in Brisbane at pre-school, primary and secondary levels and provides information about supporting agencies. Literature relating to tests of environmental knowledge and attitudes is surveyed. A full account is given of the steps taken in constructing preliminary tests using the findings of earlier researchers, but also approaching the task from first principles. Test validation was based on the assessments of a panel of experts who were provided with generally accepted definitions of environmental education. The preliminary tests were trialled, followed by item analysis. Items were retained, rejected or revised, some being used in the construction of a 60 item knowledge test. After further trials 30 knowledge items were selected for the final test. They relate to eight major categories of environmental concern and are evenly distributed between specific and applied knowledge. Ten attitude items were also included to assess optimism - pessimism regarding the future and willingness to surrender freedoms. The test was administered to samples of approximately 100 Grade Eleven students from each of six schools, chosen to be representative of Brisbane high schools. Data was analysed using the computer program EVAL and the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) sub-programs REGRESSION, CROSS-TABS and ONEWAY. For the total sample of 663 students the highest inter-correlations obtained were for knowledge and willingness to surrender freedoms (positive) and for optimism and willingness to surrender freedoms (negative). Students who knew more tended to be less optimistic. Males, in general, knew more, were more optimistic and less willing to surrender freedoms than females. Analysis of variance showed these sex differences to be significant. Significant differences were also found between schools on the three test variables and, for socioeconomic level of school, on the variable knowledge. Students from the one school with a stated environmental philosophy scored significantly higher than the rest of students in knowledge and willingness to surrender freedoms, and lower in optimism. One school with an overt religious philosophy obtained a very low score on willingness to surrender freedoms, the difference from the rest being highly significant. The investigation reports with a degree of optimism on the state of environmental education in Brisbane, but reveals some serious knowledge deficiencies. Among these were failure to appreciate that the earth's resources are limited and to understand evolutionary processes and the inter-relatedness of living things. The study points to the need for further quantitative evaluation.


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Copyright 1978 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.Env.St.)--University of Tasmania, 1979. Includes bibliographical references. Bibliography: p. 97-103

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