Improving Academic Achievement through Environmental Education Programs
The present research, conducted by the author in cooperation with the Washington Environmental Education Consortium, investigated the impact of environmental education (EE) programs on student achievement on standardized tests across subject areas. The research compared 73 pairs of schools in Washington State: schools that have well developed environmental programs and schools with traditional curriculum. All pairs were matched on demographic, geographic, and socio-economic criteria using US census information.
In order to evaluate the effect of environmental education programs, the data about two standardized tests (the Washington Assessment of Student Learning test and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills) was analyzed using several statistical tests (t-tests, discriminant analysis, etc.). As teaching and learning practices are also among the factors which could affect student achievements on the tests, information about school environments was gathered using an electronic survey. This qualitative data was used to identify commonalities and differences across school teaching and learning environments.
According to the results, schools with systemic environmental education programs consistently outperform “traditional” schools on the state standardized tests. Also the research shows a pattern indicating that in environmental schools, teachers tend to use natural areas more; have more EE professional development/training; have more support from parents, community and administration; and see more value in environmental education.
Overall, the present research shows that the environmental education programs could be one of the factors affecting student achievement on standardized tests in math, reading and writing, and emphasizes the need for more in-depth qualitative and quantitative studies of this issue.
Oksana Bartosh (Canada)
PhD Student, Research Assistant
Department of Curriculum Studies Faculty of Education
University of Bristish Columbia
Ms Oksana Bartosh, a Ukrainian scholar, conducted research on the impact of environmental education on student learning and achievement in Ukraine and USA. She served as a Research Associate of the Washington Audubon Society, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Forest Protection Association and participated in the several major studies on the state of environmental education in Washington schools, conducted by the Washington Environmental Education Consortium. Also Ms Bartosh taught English as a Second Language in Ukraine and worked as a Russian Tutor in the Russian Program in the Evergreen State College, USA. At the moment Ms. Bartosh is doing her PhD research at the University of British Columbia, where she is continue to study impact of environmental education programs on language, scientific and numerical literacy.
(Virtual Presentation, English)