Date of Graduation

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Wood, Lisa

Reader

Wissehr, Cathy

Second Reader

Savin, Mary

Abstract

Environmental education has garnered progressively more attention in recent years as global concerns of climate issues and conservation become increasingly prevalent. Educating young students is essential to developing a generation of stewards that are knowledgeable of their environmental impact and motivated to incite positive change in their surroundings. Using a mixed-methods study, a quantitative and qualitative analysis was conducted to evaluate the Creek Critters class as part of the residential program at the Ozark Natural Science Center. Students attending the program were given pre-and post-assessments that evaluated their knowledge of the concepts of water quality and benthic macroinvertebrates discussed at the residential program. Assessments were “scored” based on their accuracy in addressing questions and demonstrating knowledge of environmental concepts. In addition, parent and teacher chaperones were interviewed to assess the perceived objectives and impacts as well as the efficacy of the residential program in educating students in matters of environmental science and conservation. Interviews were transcribed and responses were recorded. Evaluation of the post-assessments demonstrated a statistically significant decrease in overall scores; however, a significantly positive increase was recorded in the scores pertaining to water quality and benthic macroinvertebrates, the focus of the Creek Critters class. The interviews established that the chaperones’ main expectation for the residential program lies in promoting stewardship rather than educating for content. Additionally, chaperones believe that the residential program is fully meeting their expectations. It is recommended that the wording of the assessments be re-evaluated to ensure clarity in prompts and that the method in which assessments are administered by the Ozark Natural Science Center be made more uniform. A larger sample size for chaperone testimony is recommended and further research is encouraged.

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