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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Changes in students’ attitudes towards conservation resulting from outdoor education : a case study Tufuor, Joseph K.

Abstract

In schools, enhancement of students' attitudes towards conservation of the environment and its resources is one of the most prevalent goals of outdoor education programs. It has been assumed by outdoor educators, that a positive change in the attitudes of students will be translated into the corresponding change in their behavior. Even though some studies have been undertaken to find out if outdoor education programs result in enhancing students' attitudes, the results have not been very conclusive. In addition, no studies have been undertaken to find out if the change in attitudes resulting from these outdoor education programs lead to a corresponding change in behaviors, and no studies have been undertaken to find out the aspects of the programs which attribute to the positive change in attitudes. This study investigated the nature of the change in attitude resulting from a residential outdoor education program, and the aspects of the program which contributed to or appeared to have contributed to the change in attitudes. The study restricted itself to conservation of three natural resources — energy, plants, and wildlife. An attitude questionnaire was developed, tried and used to assess the nature of the change in students' conservation attitudes following a residential outdoor education program. A triangulated case study approach using the views of students, counsellors, teachers and the writer, was used to investigate factors which were considered to have enhanced the students' conservation attitudes. The results of the attitude assessment study showed that the program enhanced the students' conservation attitudes. The results further showed that in the area of energy and plant conservation the positive change in attitudes was reflected in the students' behavior. In the area of wildlife conservation, however, the behavior of the students did not reflect a positive change in attitude, but this has to be interpreted with caution, since students had not been exposed to situations where they could practice wildlife conservation. The results of the case study revealed that eight aspects of the program contributed or appear to have contributed to the positive change in students' conservation attitudes. These aspects are the pre-camp preparations, the field study sessions, the outdoor school environment, the attitudes and behaviors of both the teachers and the counsellors, the films shown at the outdoor school, the teaching strategies used, the individual attention received, and the post-camp activities. The findings of the study led to two conclusions: (1) That residential outdoor education programs can and do enhance students' attitudes toward conservation of natural resources. (2) That many aspects of an outdoor education program contribute to or appear to contribute to enhancement of students' attitudes toward conservation of natural resources. The generalization of the conclusions, however, have some limitations: subjects were not selected randomly, and also because of the presence of the writer during the period of the study.

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