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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Snyder, Luke [1], Bowsher, Alan [1], Lemons, Paula [2].

Environmental Attitudes: Does an Introductory Biology Course have any Effect?

The last decade has seen an increased awareness of many important environmental issues facing our planet, including global climate change, land degradation, and rapid species loss. Most agree that the best way to combat these issues and prepare an environmentally-responsible citizenry is through education: a course of action that is often assumed to improve students' attitudes towards the environment, and thus, their likelihood to take action. For many undergraduate students, however, a single introductory biology course is the only environment-related course they will attend during their academic career. There has been little research on what effect such general education courses might have on students' environmental attitudes. We are currently assessing students' attitudes towards the environment both before and after a 15-week introductory organismal biology course at the University of Georgia. Students who take this course major in subjects other than environmental or life sciences. We developed a 25-item survey designed to assess students' attitudes in four separate categories: 1) apathy towards the environment; 2) appreciation of the earth's wildness¯; 3) appreciation of the inter-relatedness of organisms; and 4) ecocentrism versus anthropocentrism. Survey items were completely randomized and worded either positively or negatively with respect to the environment, with responses limited to a five-point, Likert-type scale. A preliminary test provided evidence that the survey is internally reliable as determined by Chronbach's alpha (alpha > 0.70 in all four categories). Additionally, we are collecting students' demographic and course performance information. We administered the survey the first week of the semester and will re-administer it the final week (May 2012). At the conclusion of the course, we will assess data from the before¯ and after surveys at both the category and individual item level, to determine whether students' attitudes changed after taking the course. We will also test for any effects of demographic and course performance variables on environmental attitudes. The results of this study will allow us to assess the effectiveness of the course in improving students' attitudes towards the environment, and will facilitate the design of curricula that will help us to more effectively move towards this goal.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - University of Georgia, Department of Plant Biology, 2502 Miller Plant Sciences, Athens, GA, 30602, USA
2 - University of Georgia, Division of Biological Sciences, 405 Biological Sciences Bulding, Athens, GA, 30602, USA

environmental attitudes
Science Education
general education courses.

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Battelle South/Convention Center
Date: Monday, July 9th, 2012
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: P016
Abstract ID:237

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