|Thursday, June 25|
Effect of a hands-on-environmenal education program in children's pro-environmentalism
* José A. Corraliza, Universidad Autónoma of Madrid, Spain
Silvia Collado, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain
Claudio D. Rosa, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Brazil
This study examines the development of pro-environmentalism in children through an Environmental Education program called Naturaliza. The program combines the delivery of content offered in the classroom with hands-on environmental experiences in direct contact with nature. The aim of the study was to evaluate the possible increases that participation in the Naturaliza program produces in terms of children’s environmental beliefs, emotional affinity towards the natural environment and pro-environmental behavior. With a pre – post experimental design, we collected data at the beginning and at the end of the program. The sample was formed by 1.300 children (6-12 years old), distributed in an experimental and control group. The Children’s Environmental Perceptions Scale (CEPS; Larson, et al. 2011), the New Environmental Paradigm Scale (NEP) for Children (Manoli et al. 2007) and the Pro-Ecological Behavior Scale (designed for this study) were applied. All the instruments had previously been adapted to be used with Spanish children. According to our results, children’s emotional affinity towards nature significantly increased with the participation in the program, as compared to the control group. Similarly, children who participated in the program showed stronger environmental beliefs at the end of the program, but significant differences were not found in the control group. Contrary to our expectations, children’s pro-environmental behaviors remained at the same level in both phases (pre-post). There were two exceptions in which children reported a higher frequency of conducting a specific pro-environmental behavior: 1. using both sides of a piece of paper before throwing it to the trash and 2. saving energy at home. Overall, our findings indicate that the hands-on Environmental Education program increases children’ affinity towards the environment and ecological beliefs, but the effect on actual behaviors is weaker. These results raise specific questions about the variables on which effective environmental behavior change depends.
Childrens moral judgments of environmentally harmful actions: the role of exposure to nature and type of victim
* Silvia Collado , Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain
José A. Corraliza, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
Rocio Rodriguez-Rey, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
Research problem and theoretical backgrounds People’s behavior are highly responsible for environmental problems. Thus, it is increasingly important to understand how individuals develop a sense of environmental morality. Based on social domain theory, it has been shown that children show moral attitudes towards environmentally harmful actions. However, little is known about the factors leading children to reason about the environment in a moral way. Research objectives The present study expands on research done on children’s environmental morality by examining two factors that may regulate children’s moral judgments of environmentally harmful actions: 1. The target of the action and 2. Children’s direct contact with nature. Research methods We had three types of environmentally harmful actions: 1) Harmful actions with no specific victim; 2) Harmful actions to animals and 3) Harmful actions to plants/trees. Children’s judgments of these three types of harmful actions were compared to judgments of moral transgressions, social-conventional transgressions, and personal choices. Main results preview and importance In line with our hypotheses, children judged harmful actions to animals as severely as moral transgressions, they perceived harmful actions to plants/trees less harshly than harmful actions to humans and animals, and they judged moral and environmental transgressions more harshly than social-conventional transgressions. Children who experience nature more often judged the three types of environmentally harmful actions more severely than those whose contact with nature is less frequent. Implication for policy and research development Our findings show that children attribute moral standing to nature, and experiences of nature are linked to a higher sense of environmental morality among children. However, some natural elements are perceived as more worthy of moral concern than others. These results have implications for environmental education (EE), suggesting that EE programs should be organized outdoors, and that the different victims of our environmentally harmful actions should be specified.
Perceived neighborhood safety moderates the relationship between active school commuting and childrens mental health
* Gina Martin, Western University, Canada
Andrew Clark, Western University, Canada
Alina Medeiros, Western University, Canada
Megan Graat, Western University, Canada
Jason Gilliland, Western University, Canada
The commute to and from school represents an important time frame in the daily lives of children. During these times, children experience their environments in different ways based on their mode of travel and characteristics of their local environments. To improve children’s mental health, advocates have proposed children engage in active school travel; however, this is based on limited evidence and assumes all children would benefit in the same way. A critical gap in the literature is that studies have not examined how environmental exposures may moderate the potential mental health benefits of active school travel. Accordingly, this research addresses two questions: 1) Are there direct associations between active school travel and children’s mental health? 2) Does perceived neighbourhood safety moderate the relationship between active school travel and children’s mental health? Data were collected on mode of transport to and from school, psychosocial quality of life, and perceptions of neighbourhood safety, from Ontario schoolchildren (aged 9–14) as part of the Spatial Temporal Environment and Activity Monitoring (STEAM) study. The STEAM study was developed to investigate environmental influences on children's health and well-being. Multilevel modeling was used to determine if children’s perceptions of neighborhood safety moderated the relationship between active school commuting and mental health. Results showed no significant direct relationship between active school commuting and children’s mental health; but the relationship was moderated by perceived neighbourhood safety. At higher levels of neighbourhood safety, active school commuting was associated with increased mental health, while at lower of neighbourhood safety active school commuting was associated with decreased mental health. Findings suggest that the benefits of active school commuting are not equal across environmental conditions, and that increased time spent in a neighbourhood that is not perceived as safe, during the school commute, may have a negative impact on children’s mental health.
School Design for Special Needs Students : Creating a Supportive Environment for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder through Purposeful Strategies
* Francesqca Jimenez, HDR, United States
Renae Rich, HDR, United States
The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 160 children worldwide has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As the fastest growing developmental disability, it is important to ensure high quality care and education for children with ASD that enables them to achieve their full potential. Children with ASD often struggle with poor person-environment fit in traditional learning environments and experience difficulties with sensory processing, over-stimulation, and social interaction. Developing universal school design strategies for children with ASD presents a challenge due to individual differences in impairments and abilities. Current literature in this area offers little empirical evidence suggesting an objective effect of design on student or staff outcomes. The purpose of this mix-methods, pre-post study was to evaluate the new home of Spero Academy, a tuition-free, K-6 elementary charter school in Minneapolis, MN, USA for children with ASD and other developmental disabilities. The school’s design was based on the best available research for children with ASD, as well as focus group data from educators and therapists. Using student records and staff survey data, the following hypotheses were examined: (1.) Reduced sensory stimulation within the classroom will help improve student concentration and learning; (2.) An environment specifically designed for children with ASD will improve person-environment fit thereby decreasing incidence of disruptive behaviors; (3.) Purposeful design decisions will create a better work environment for staff. Analysis of pre and post occupancy data indicated improvements in environmental conditions, including benefits from better access to natural light and alternative spaces with less distractions for students. Other findings support future considerations regarding classroom size and sound insulation in common areas. Complete results will be shared in the presentation. As current research on outcomes related to school design for children with special needs is limited, this study may help inform best practices and refine current guidelines.