Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Date of Defense

7-20-2015

Graduate Advisor

William C. Kyle, Jr., PhD

Committee

Baybeck, Brady

Cody Ding

Charles Granger

Abstract

When teaching ecology concepts, teachers often overlook utilizing the schoolyard as an outdoor classroom. This study examined the use of the schoolyard to teach ecology concepts in order to improve environmental knowledge and attitudes among fifth grade African-American students. The “Nature Unleashed” curriculum was the primary source for the lessons. This curriculum encompasses experiential learning and place-based education. The curriculum, taught over a six-week period, utilized hands-on activities inside and outside of the classroom. There were 248 fifth grade African-American students (N = 248) who participated in the research study. Students responded to a pre- and post-assessment to measure knowledge gains and changes in attitudes towards nature. The assessment that accompanied the “Nature Unleashed” curriculum measured knowledge gains. The Children’s Environmental Attitude and Knowledge Scale (CHEAKS) measured changes in attitude. Results of the study indicated there was a statistically significant gain in environmental knowledge. The study also indicated there was not a statistically significant change in attitudes toward the environment. Analysis of the subgroups verbal commitment, actual commitment and affect also indicated there was not a significant change.

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Education Commons

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