An evaluation of the effectiveness of an urban environmental education program for inner city children
This study measured gain in environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions during an environmental education program for inner city children. The ten-day day camp consisted of environmental education activities implemented at local community natural areas and more distant field trip locations. Three "pencil-and-paper" tests were administered in a pretest/posttest fashion; one measuring environmental knowledge, one measuring attitudes, and another measuring behavioral intentions.
Raw test scores revealed children gained in knowledge, but already possessed very positive environmentally sensitive attitudes and behavioral intentions before the program. Children exhibited little gain in knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions in a statistical sense. Parents responded very favorably to the program, indicating their reasons for enrolling their children were well satisfied.
A small amount of support was found suggesting that the more parents indicated they were involved with their children about the program content, the less their children learned. Moderate support was found suggesting that children learned more when their parents enrolled them to learn about nature. A small amount of support was found suggesting test scores increased as the number of previous family nature visits increased. Finally, little support was found for a positive relationship between the level of children's interest in nature and the amount they learned.
It is suggested that future environmental education programs for inner city children should be long-term, helping guide children through the entire environmental education process. Future program evaluation should include a pilot test of the program and evaluation instruments and also employ a variety of assessment instruments and procedures.