Date of Award

2-18-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Education

First Advisor

Salinitri, Geri

Keywords

EcoSchools, Environmental Education, Environmental education efficacy, Environmental education programs, Environmental literacy, Environmental literacy assessment

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

Environmental literacy (EL) is an outcome of environmental education (EE) programs when structured to initiate learning in students. The EcoSchools program is a leading EE program in Ontario. Designed as a certification program for schools and students in K-12, it helps the school communities develop EL and practices to become responsible citizens and reduce the environmental footprint of schools. Currently, EL among students is not something that is assessed in Ontario schools yet the EcoSchools program has been adopted by most to the schools boards as a means of developing EL among students. It is not clear whether the EcoSchools result to EL among students. In this research, the Middle School Environmental Literacy Survey (MSELS), the EcoSchools Questionnaire and EcoSchools Teacher Co-ordinator Questionnaire were used to assess students’ EL, awareness levels, source of environmental knowledge, the visibility of the EcoSchools program, and finally, the EcoSchools teacher co-ordinator’s perception of the program in the participating school board. The EL results were compared among students in Eco and non-EcoSchools. Result from the research showed that in the study area EL was generally low. Only 29.3% of the students were deemed as having met the provincial standard of level 3 (70% or higher) in the EL scores. Other findings included; students’ main source of environmental knowledge and the EcoSchools teacher co-ordinators’ perception of the program. Although students main source of environmental knowledge was not from the EcoSchools program, some of the teachers interviewed believed that the EcoSchools program has created a significant level of environmental awareness within the school community and with a few modifications, such as providing more time for the teachers to plan and implement the program, the EcoSchools would be capable of being an outstanding EE programs that promoted EL, awareness and students participation in environmental matters.

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