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Title:Perceptions of Environmental Education in Illinois Public High Schools
Author(s):Singletary, Ted Joseph
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Secondary
Abstract:This study developed and described the author's perception of environmental education, which is based upon personal experience and the writings of environmental educators and environmentalists. This perception was then compared with those of seven Illinois high school environmental education teachers.
The author's view of environmental education, a complex combination of many experiences and concepts, exemplifies the multi-disciplinary and unsettled nature of this recently developed field. Inherent in the author's perception of environmental education is a heavily cognitive component which aims at producing both a scientific understanding of environmental phenomena and a variety of scientific and problem solving skills. This view of environmental education is prevalently found in the environmental education literature, and also includes as course goals the changing of students' valus and behavior.
The environmentalist literature argues for massive societal change in order to avert global disaster and offers general direction for this change. These arguments also have been incorporated into the author's perception of environmental education.
The necessity for both individual and societal changes deemed desirable by writers in the field, and the author's interest and experience in public schooling, have resulted in the author's belief that a public high school environmental education curriculum is necessary. However, the author's perception is theoretical and it is difficult for him to envision public school courses based upon his perception of environmental education.
Experienced high school environmental education teachers' perceptions of their subject were compared with the author's to determine the feasibility of a public school course consistent with the author's view. The seven teachers in six schools were chosen in hopes that they would be representative. The author interviewed the teachers, observed classes, and examined course materials.
There was considerable variation among the programs, courses, and teachers studied. Yet, the teachers seemed to share common perceptions of environmental education, many of which differed from the author's perception. The teachers emphasized the cognitive, scientific aspects of environmental education and, for the most part, avoided attempting to engender value or behavior shifts in their students. The structure and organization of the schools, absence of a conceptual framework for environmental education, and a view of school administrators and counselors that environmental education was a simple, non-academic course is seen to interfere with the development of effective courses. Nevertheless, the courses provided outlets for curriculum development and innovation by the teachers, and some positive and lasting effects among students.
The researcher concludes that an environmental education course consonant with his perception could not exist in public high schools. Additional research is suggested to determine if the programs studied were unique and if the inferred teacher perceptions are accurate. The author also suggests that a practice-based, conceptual framework for environmental education, as well as an accepted terminology, must be developed. Such a framework is seen as vital if environmental education is to be a field which achieves the promise discussed in the literatures.
Issue Date:1981
Description:101 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203589
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1981

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