A programme for promoting positive attitudes towards the environment in primary school children
In a world where natural environments are under increasing threat, environmental education has become a global imperative. Research in the field has so far stressed its cognitive rather than its affective components. The development of positive attitudes towards the environment was identified as a goal in Jordanian schools, particularly in the primary school curricula. However, at present environmental education in Jordan remains oriented towards cognitive outcomes. The study follows systematic procedures for: developing and delivering a Fourth Grade Environmental Education Programme (FGEEP); designing a scale to assess children's attitudes towards the environment, and evaluating the impact of the programme on these attitudes. A representative random sample of 360 fourth grade primary school children (180 boys, 180 girls) aged 9-10 years attending government or UNRWA schools in Irbid/Jordan in the academic year 1995/1996, was selected for the research. The sample was divided into two equal and equivalent groups: the experimental which received FGEEP alongside their normal curriculum and the control group which did not. The programme involved the creation, development and evaluation of both teacher and pupil learning materials. Consisting of three books: a pupil's textbook, a pupil's workbook and a teacher's manual. A specially designed and trialled 30-items Environmental Attitudes Scale for Primary School Children (EASPSC) was found valid and reliable for use in Arabic and English. Also developed were an environmental knowledge scale and a scale for assessing parents' environmental attitudes. The scales were given to both the experimental and the control groups, pre- and post-programme exposure. Participating pupils are shown to have developed strong, positive attitudes towards the environment and high level of environmental knowledge, as did their parents. The results suggest that FGEEP was effective and appropriate for developing environmental understanding in primary school children in Jordan. Since content and methods of delivery of the programme differed from the normal curriculum, both contribute to the programme's achievement. The researcher advocates the adoption of the programme in Jordan and, with suitable modifications, in a wide range of schools in other societies.