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Effects of problem based learning on students’ environmental attitude through local vs. non local environmental problems

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2008
İşeri Gökmen, Selcen
The purpose of the study was to investigate the relative effect of problem based learning with a non local perspective (PBL1), problem based learning with a local perspective (PBL2) and traditionally designed environmental education (TRD) lectures on elementary school (7th grade) students’ environmental attitude; specifically by the 3 dimensions as; general environmental awareness, general attitude toward solutions, and awareness of individual responsibility. The sample consisted of 95 7th grade students from a public elementary school in Nigde. Three classes instructed by the same science teacher are randomly assigned as control group and experimental groups. All the groups were taught the topic “Why do ecosystems change?” for four weeks. On the other hand, the control group was taught through TRD, one of the experimental groups was taught through PBL with a non local perspective, and the other experimental group was taught through PBL with a local perspective. Students in TRD group received an instruction based on teacher explanations and textbooks. On the other hand, the experimental groups dealt with ill- structured real life problems working in small groups. The problem of PBL1 group was selected as “the declining environmental conditions of Manyas Lake” and the problem of PBL2 group was selected as “the declining v environmental conditions of Akkaya Dam in Nigde” to create a non local / local difference between the experimental groups. Environmental Attitude Questionnaire (EAQ) was administered to all groups as pre-test to determine the prior environmental attitude. The worksheets, on the other hand, used by experimental groups in their group work were examined to reveal the quality of the process. After the treatment, EAQ was administered to all groups as a post-test to compare the effectiveness of PBL1, PBL2 and TRD on students’ environmental attitude. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was performed to investigate the effect of traditionally designed EE, Problem Based designed EE, and Problem Based with a local perspective designed EE on students’ general environmental awareness, awareness of individual responsibility and general attitude toward solutions when students’ prior general environmental awareness, prior awareness of individual responsibility and prior general attitude toward solutions are controlled. The results of the study revealed that, students in PBL2 group had significantly more positive environmental attitudes in general environmental awareness and general attitude toward solutions dimensions than TRD group and in all three dimensions of the questionnaire than PBL1 group. Moreover, TRD group had significantly more positive attitude than PBL1 group in students’ awareness of individual responsibility determined after the treatment.