Environmental Literacy for All Students: Assessment of Environmental Science Courses in a New Core Curriculum
Georgia Southern University has implemented a new core curriculum, a component of which is a set of environmental science laboratory courses. Students complete one of four of these discipline-based courses (biology, chemistry, geology, or physics). While housed in distinct departments, faculty collaborated in course design, producing classes that focus on local and regional environmental problems and hands-on activities. Special attention was given to developing courses supportive of students underrepresented in the sciences.
Project evaluation was performed to assess the impact of the environmental component and included a Likert-scale survey completed by 808 students. Respondents expressed their level of agreement with four categories of statements: understanding of environmental concepts, practical applications, personal responsibility, and problem solving and data analysis skills. The survey requested demographic information on age, gender, race/ethnicity, academic classification, and major (specifically, education or non-education).
Only 48% of respondents felt they had a good understanding of environmental issues before taking the course; 76% agreed they gained a good understanding of environmental science concepts from the course. The majority perceived positive practical applications; 75% agreed that they better understand environmental issues discussed in the media and 56% felt they had developed the ability to communicate clearly about environmental issues. With regard to personal responsibility, 66% indicated they will attempt to modify their behavior to be more environmentally responsible, 65% believed they had developed the ability to make informed decisions on environmental science issues, and 73% agreed the course provided them with information that will help them to be more responsible citizens. While 68% agreed that their ability to analyze environmental science problems had improved, only 41% felt they had developed the ability to solve real environmental science problems, indicating an area for further attention. Data analysis by demographic categories suggests positive impacts on groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences, specifically, women and African Americans.
Geological Society of America Annual Meeting (GSA)
Battles, Denise A., James S. Reichard, Fredrick J. Rich, Matt Franks.
"Environmental Literacy for All Students: Assessment of Environmental Science Courses in a New Core Curriculum."
Geology and Geography Faculty Presentations.