Can kids teach us a thing or two?: a comparative study of the environmental attitudes of 8th grade students and significant adults in their lives





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This capstone project sought to compare the attitudes of 8th grade students toward environmental issues and the attitudes of a significant adult in their life. The major components of the recently published goals from the National Association of Environmental Education encompass environmental knowledge, attitudes and behavior. It is widely believed that knowledge precedes attitudes, which precede behavior. In looking at the attitudes of both children and adults, the author was intending to measure to what extent each generational age group was meeting the proposed goals. In doing so, it was hypothesized that children would exhibit more pro-environmental attitudes than would significant adults in their lives and could therefore potentially be utilized as a mechanism with which Environmental Educators could reach those adults who are presently in charge of making decisions that impact the world we live in. This research utilized the New Ecological Paradigm Scale, developed by Dunlap and VanLier in the late 1970s as a tool that can be used to assess environmental attitudes. A modified version of the survey was given to 8th grade students enrolled in the author's Earth Science class and to one adult who was deemed significant to the child. The research revealed that the NEP scale survey showed that the participating 8th graders did indeed typically exhibit scores indicating more pro-environmental behaviors than did the group of significant adults.

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