Volume 17, Issue 4, 2021

Research Article
Measuring Intrinsic Traits of Children at Zoos
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2246,
ABSTRACT: Zoos are in a unique position to affect the development of youth in ways that are consistent with cultivating pro-environmental behaviors. The purpose of this study was to examine three intrinsic traits of youth important to the goals of conservation education: prior knowledge about animals, interest in animals, and value for animals. The framework of this study is the conceptual model of learning that posits that any changes that occur during a single visit to an informal learning institution (such as a zoo) will be affected and informed by the intrinsic traits of the individual and various external factors. This study explored three intrinsic traits predicted to be important for informal learning. The research design followed a constructivist design meant to capture measurements of prior knowledge, interest, and value from the participants’ own perspectives. This study describes these three traits in a sample of 37 youth between the ages of 7 and 14, largely zoo members, attending the zoo with their parents. In particular, I describe unique methods of measuring these three traits including a drawing activity meant to assess the children’s construction of knowledge about animals, and questionnaires meant to assess the youth’s interest and value. The data analysis in this paper provides descriptions of the three traits as they are constructed among the youth participants in order to inform future correlations between intrinsic traits and in-zoo behavior. The results of the study indicated that youth organize their knowledge about animals around ecological and morphological concepts and that this forms the basis for their interest in and value for animals.
Research Article
Examining the Use of PhET Simulations on Students’ Attitudes and Learning in General Chemistry II
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2247,
ABSTRACT: Chemistry is considered difficult to students to learn because many of its concepts are abstract in nature and require visualization at the sub-microscopic level of representation. Physics Education Technology (PhET) offers students the ability to understand and relate both chemical systems and what is happening at the sub-microscopic level through dynamic visualization. Simulations like PhET can be used as a powerful transformative tool for the teaching and learning of science. The research design and paradigm goal is to investigate the students’ perceptions on the impact of PhET simulations on their learning and attitudes and to identify PhET’s most helpful features. The data gathering tool in this research project is a survey that comprised of Likert-type and open-ended questions that was handed out to students who have completed General Chemistry II and were acquainted with PhET simulations as part of their laboratory sessions. The research took place at the City College of New York, an urban, minority serving, and public college. The number of research participants is 158. The implications of the research findings are PhET interactive simulations have an overall positive impact on students’ attitudes and perceptions about learning, PhET simulations promote students’ development of conceptual understanding of chemistry concepts and content, PhET simulations seem to promote and facilitate learning and understanding of abstract concepts, and PhET simulations furnish learning opportunities that otherwise cannot be attained in a traditional laboratory setting.  The data presented in this paper support the notion that there is a need to update and modify general chemistry laboratories to reflect emerging technologies such as PhET interactive simulations.
Research Article
STEAM Education Using Sericulture Ukiyo-e: Object-Based Learning through Original Artworks Collected at a Science University Museum in Japan
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2248,
ABSTRACT: Societies across the world face the need to increase the number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) personnel who could resolve issues concerning sustainability. The body of scholarly literature on STEM education has grown significantly since the beginning of the 21st century. STEAM education incorporates arts with STEM subjects. This pedagogical strategy is increasingly adopted in formal/informal education settings to foster scientific thinking and creativity through multisensory artistic activities. Science museums and centers house discrete items such as multi-touch tabletops that allow visitors to handle objects and engage in experiential activities. This study postulates that science university museums can contribute to STEAM education. It illustrates the effectiveness of object-based learning (OBL) in STEAM education imparted through original artwork housed in science university museums. This study’s application of OBL at university museums establishes OBL within cross-disciplinarySTEAM-based educational systems in Japan through the use of original artwork such as sericulture ukiyo-e. Students majoring in agriculture or technology participated in the workshop designed for this study, directly engaged with discrete multisensory sericulture ukiyo-e, and were encouraged to think from diverse perspectives. Finally, the studentsdebated the sericulture ukiyo-e and organized an exhibition. This study concludes that the academic value of STEAM education is enhanced through the technique of fostering problem-solving in students using interactions with and active discussions about artwork collections and objects.
Research Article
Allying With The Plants: A Pedagogical Path Towards The Planthroposcene
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2249,
ABSTRACT: The notion of the Planthroposcene is based on an attempt to disconnect from the sustainability rhetoric of the Anthropocene and to choose to overcome the ecological crisis through an ecocentric path. In the current research, students of a Pedagogical Department at a University in Greece were encouraged to investigate their relationship with plants, to ally with them and to reflect on their experience, experimenting in an alternative way of empowering their ecological consciousness, away from the traditional environmental education practice based on sustainability. They designed and proposed activities, exploring and strengthening their connection to plants. Their activities were implemented through mindfulness techniques (meditation, yoga), art-based practices (drawing, dramatization, poem writing, dance) and taking action. The data analysis revealed that the students through their activities practiced participatory observation, communication, sensorial and embodied experience with plants. The manifestation of empathy for the otherness of plant-being also took place.
Research Article
Relationships among Environmental Literacy, Locus of Control, and Future Orientation of STEM Students in the Philippines
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2250,
ABSTRACT: This study reports on the status and correlations among environmental literacy (EL), locus of control (LOC), and future orientation (FO) of STEM students (N = 512). The EL results showed a low rate of students’ Environmental Knowledge but high Environmental Skills. The LOC results revealed that students believed that they could best create environmental impacts through recycling yet least by advocating on the environment. They were also more inclined to considering distant outcomes or consequences of their actions rather than focusing on their immediate needs. The STEM students’ academic background, convenience, and personal benefit among others might have contributed to correlation results of EL, LOC, and FO reported in this study. It is suggested that ample opportunities be given to students to improve their EL. This may include going beyond environmental theories and engaging students in authentic experiences to provide them with active roles in learning environmental topics. Moreover, these topics should not only be consistently integrated among the fields of sciences but also in other subjects making them interdisciplinary, meaningful, and relatable.
Research Article
Dimensions of Teachers’ Expressed Capacity Building Needs on Climate Change Education Strategies
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2251,
ABSTRACT: Teaching is successful only when learning (a change in behaviour) is achieved. Diverse effective strategies are employable by teachers to facilitate students’ learning within the formal context of climate change education (CCE), covering the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains corresponding to the head, heart and hands model. This quantitative study adopts a descriptive survey research design to assess teachers’ expressed capacity building needs in order to ascertain gaps pertaining to effective teaching strategies related to the CCE-infused curriculum in Enugu state. A total of 410 in-service public secondary school teachers serve as respondents in this study, spread across four education zones within the study area. A self-developed questionnaire served as the instrument for data collection in this study. This instrument passed face validity and reliability tests (Alpha = .84). Descriptive statistics, mean, mean differences tests and exploratory factor/dimension reduction analyses were applied to analyze data. Overall, teachers expressed high capacity building need in most of the CCE strategies listed, irrespective of tested teacher variables. Also, the results show two underlying factors/themes under which capacity building needs on the listed CCE strategies are grouped – innovative, learner-centered/inclusive teaching strategies and the use of instructional materials/media. Inference drawn from findings is that learner-centered strategies/media are lacking in CCE, which would inhibit students’ learning about climate change. If the current trend is disregarded, achieving holistic CCE as captured by the head, heart and hands model will be unattainable and with severe consequences on the future of the earth’s environment.
Research Article
Using DPSIR Framework to Determine Secondary School Students’ Conception of Ecological Concepts in the Context of a Wetland Ecosystem
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2252,
ABSTRACT: This study investigated the secondary school students’ conception of ecological concepts, based on wetland ecosystem. The guiding question was ‘What is grade 11 students’ conception of ecological concepts in association with Koro-Koro wetland?’. Thirty-one Grade 11 students were assessed for their understanding, within the Driving-Pressure-State-Impacts-Response (DPSIR) framework. A questionnaire was administered to establish the students’ conceptions. The findings revealed that students’ understanding of their local wetland was relatively better in wetland fauna, and limited in relation to plant diversity, ecosystem energy flow and conceptualization of an ecosystem. Many students could not relate what they learnt in class to their local environment. It is recommended that future studies be directed towards investigating teaching strategies that can effectively enhance students’ scientific understanding of local wetlands.
Research Article
Student Mental Models of the Longleaf Pine Ecosystem
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2254,
ABSTRACT: There is a nationwide focus in science education in the United States on the ability of students to develop and use models. Using the Contextual Model of Learning that considers learning is inseparably bound to the context in which it occurs, this study looks at drawings of the longleaf pine ecosystem created by 293 4th Grade students prior to and again after their multiple day visits to an environmental education center in the southeastern United States. Using flora and fauna processes considered as indicative of the ecosystem by ecologists, seven distinct mental model categories were developed from student artifacts. Comparison of the pre to post-frequencies in each model demonstrate a statistically significant increasing level of sophistication in the mental models to more closely approximate the conceptual models of ecologists after participation in instruction at the Center. Progression to more sophisticated mental models was documented even when addressing these models and their development was not a direct intent of the instruction. These data also support the importance that context can play in the learning of ecological concepts and the significance of including informal experiences to the formal K-12 curriculum.
Research Article
What Scientists Do: Engaging in Science Practices through a Wonder-Framed Nature Study
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2255,
ABSTRACT: Despite recent reforms concerning how students engage in science, there have been significant challenges for educators seeking to consistently implement science practices within the classroom. This study considered science practices within a wonder-framed nature study as one possible way for educators to support students as they take on the role of scientists. We interviewed twenty students in Grades 3 through 5 who had participated in wonder journaling sessions outdoors that led to an investigative project and presentation. The evidence suggests that students strongly engaged in investigative science practices, and that they also experienced opportunities for sensemaking and critiquing practices. Through a qualitative data analysis, four main themes emerged that provide insight into the experiences of the students within the study: joy, community, autonomy, and challenges. The data indicate that wonder is an authentic and viable route towards the implementation of the science practices within an elementary school setting. The implications of this study are considerable and offer strategies for educators seeking to incorporate science practices in an authentic way that integrates both wonder and outdoor learning.
Research Article
Developing the Structure of Junior High School Students’ Arguments about Ohm's Law
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2256,
ABSTRACT: While students’ difficulties in constructing scientific arguments have been studied, research on developing the quality of students’ scientific arguments through the implementation of instructional interventions is limited. The present study aims to examine the effects of an instructional intervention for Ohm’s Law, which was designed on a teaching science as practices approach, on the development of the structure of students’ written scientific arguments. Instructional material was constructed for teaching Ohm’s Law and was implemented to 14-year-old students. The research data included students’ written answers (arguments) put down on worksheets during the instructional intervention, as well as students’ answers (arguments) to a questionnaire they were provided with before and after the instructional intervention. Data analysis showed that the instructional intervention contributed to developing the structure of students’ written scientific arguments. The study concludes with a discussion on the results and proposals for further research.
Research Article
Localizing Discussions of Climate Change Effects May Not Increase Students' Willingness to Engage in Pro-Environmental Behavior
Interdisciplinary Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 2021, 17(4), e2257,
ABSTRACT: While acceptance of the reality of climate change is rising among the U.S. population, there still exists an inconsistent willingness of individuals to engage in pro-environmental behaviors (WPEB) to mitigate anthropogenic drivers of warming. Decreasing the temporal and spatial psychological distance between the adverse effects of climate change and students' home communities is one proposed approach that environmental science teachers can take to motivate students to take up attitudes to engage in pro-environmental action. This study used data from a large public survey of Americans' perceptions of climate change to better understand whether existing conceptions of the distance of the effects of climate change affects self-reported WPEB. Two ordinal logistic regression models were constructed to compare temporal distance of effects and spatial distance of effects respectively to the WPEB construct. Both models showed the inverse of the expected relationship, where participants who perceived the effects of climate change as more psychologically distant displayed a greater WPEB. These finding suggest that localizing discussions of climate change alone may not be sufficient to increase students' WPEB.