Environment Science education and its effect on Students' Improvement
Does the current curriculum actually improve the student's decision making regarding environmental issues?
Sample Size and Sampling Method
Time Frame for the Study
Scope and Limitations
Current Environmental Science Curriculum
Is the current curriculum design actually improves the decision making regarding environmental issues?
For years it has been a tough job to implement the appropriate environmental education in the colleges. Research in the field has pointed out several challenges in the creation of effective environmental curricula. Researchers also examined different strategies being used for the promotion of student awareness as well as fostering them to engage in the ever changing circumstances. The empirical research studies have made it clear that just acquiring the information on the environment science and ecology is not enough to motivate students to practically participate in environment protection. For the motivation there is a need to connect to the environment and possess an emotional commitment that encourages students to participate. "We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well -- for we will not fight to save what we do not love" (Gould, 1993,p. 40).
Through this document the author presents proposal to assess the impacts of environmental science curricula on students studying in the environmental science. There is a huge research on curriculum of environmental science courses. The researcher proposes a qualitative case study research design to explore this phenomenon.
The research has a scope to explore as whether science courses are sufficient for motivating students to be attached to the environment and make positive decision towards environment. The study is significant as it will help to contribute to the knowledge base of the college environmental education curriculum. The college students and instructors will benefit from the results of the study. And as environment protection is a global concern, the knowledge gained through this study may also kick off a global viewpoint and promote communique that endorses sustained environmental objective for benefiting the world.
It was almost a half century ago that Environmental science was introduced as a separate discipline in the curriculum of schools. This was continued in the academic courses and gradually incorporated as major in the college curriculum but being a new discipline it continues to be in a state of flux. Previous researcher focused on the effectiveness of curriculum and education regarding environment and conducted their research mostly with school students (Gonzalez-Gaudiano, 2006) and there is less number of studies found focusing on the college students environmental science courses and their effect. To begin with, environmental science research focused on exploring individual science topics disciplines.
The research that has been conducted with college level science education shows that due to collapse in the different study areas students were found to be lacking of clear concepts about environment and environment protection (Biriukova, 2005; Fernandez-Manzanal, Rodriguez-Barreiro, Carrasquer, 2007; Sipos, Battisti, & Grimm, 2008). Additionally it has also been found that, several programs and courses in college are not relevant for students (Eaton, 2009; Orr, 2004), and the content of these courses usually consist of material that is conflicting and out dated (Colby & Sullivan, 2009). "To develop an integrated sense of environmental knowledge, much of the research has explored student thinking around particular concept areas, without a sense of connection to the Earth and belief that they have some responsibility to help reduce pollutants, preserve natural habitat, and promote green building" (Taber, 2008, p. 1915). Green is defined as "those practices and products that are environmentally sustainable, for example, students may be less likely to work for change that would benefit the environment of the planet" (Leege & Cawthorn, 2008 p.23). The research studies suggest that there is a need of strategies and policies as regards the environmental education (Cole, 2007; Venkataraman, 2009). Also the research has pointed out the need for developing new models at college level that "facilitate action to promote ecological literacy and social change" (Moore, 2005, p. 76). As fragmentation of environmental education has already been established that is why the researcher will explore the parts of these courses that are effective and contribute to the decision making ability of students about nature environment and environmental issues?
The environmental science courses are not sufficient and there is deficiency in them as regards relevancy and integration in the college education. Typically these courses are designed as part of a subject like biology and other subjects (Biriukova, 2005; Dresner & Blatner, 2006; Joshi, 2009). Due to this fragmentation students are unable to obtain knowledge and experience that is necessary for motivating them for a practical participation in environmental issues (J. Martin & Junker, 2005). Additionally, it is often been neglected to incorporate learner experience in the college science course which is necessary to develop the inquisitive and discussion skills (S. Martin, Brannigan, & Hall, 2005; Venkataraman, 2009).
Through this study the researcher intends to explore the college students' perceptions as how the courses and curriculum influence their views and participant in the protection of environment as well as their decision-making abilities towards environmental issues. Data collected thus may point curriculum developers as well as environmental education instructors as to what are they methods for the integration of sustainable environmental concepts into all college classes. College students will also benefit from this educational approach to comprehend the environment and also will possible augment their willingness to protect environment. The researcher will conduct a thorough literature review for exploring these issues and then will develop interview questions based on this review.
Research Design and Research Questions
The main research question is: what are the impacts of environmental science courses and curriculum on the student's ecological knowledge and environmental decision making abilities. For this purpose the researcher will use a qualitative case study to explore whether curricula taught in the college science courses assist in improving the perception and decision making abilities about environmental and ecological issues. "Case studies are applicable when a researcher "explores processes, activities, and events" (Creswell, 2003, p. 183). The case study is surrounded by both a program and time, and the place is a solitary campus (Creswell, 1998, p. 37). It will be appropriate to adopt a qualitative case study research approach for this purpose because through this research the researcher will try to explore how students better understand the environment and their decision making ability toward environmental issues is improved after completing several college science courses. A case study is appropriate if "you need to know how or why a program has worked or not" (Yin, 2009, p. 10). In depth interviews will be used to obtain the views of the selected students about the course material and its effectiveness at their college. Thus a rich data will be obtained that may help to understand and address the research problem. The research will be conducted in the ____college and qualitative case study design will be used.
The purpose of the study is to explore the students' perceptions about the improvement in their attitude toward environmental issues as well as their decision-making ability as a result of completion of several science courses in the college. In depth interviews as well as detailed discussion with the selected students are necessary "to understand and discover how individuals experience and interact with their social world and the meaning it has for them" (Merriam, 2002, p. 4).
Similarly case study approach will help to obtain the wide-ranging information that is necessary for exploring and comprehending the phenomenon in a better way. Formal and informal interviews and group discussions will help to provide the data required to explore student's perceptions and experiences as regards the study courses in a better way. Cresswell (2003) also recommends that for getting a rich data the best sources are "interviews, discussions, and students' poetry, personal journals, or diaries" (Creswell, 2003, p.12). Thus through interviews the researcher will be better able to take out the students perceptions of the college level course material regarding environment science as well as how these courses effected their practical approach toward environment. Adopting a case study approach is required if "you need to know how or why a program has worked or not" (Yin, 2009, p. 10). Due to all the above stated reasons the researcher believed that for the purpose of the study case study methodology is best among all the comparable approaches.
Sample Size and Sampling Method
A sample of 15 students will be selected from the science courses. All junior, senior and sophomore student will be targeted. The students will be selected randomly using a list that will be obtained by registrar of the college.
Time Frame for the Study
The duration of the research will be three months. During this periods interviews will be conducted with the focus groups and discussions will be held with students. After conducting the interviews and holding discussions with the students the collected data will be transcribed…