Date of Award

5-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Teacher Education

Major Professor

Rita A. Hagevik

Committee Members

Claudia T. Melear, Bonnie H. Ownley

Abstract

Environmental issues are at the forefront of public scientific inquiry. There is a pressing need to change the way we do things in order to reduce the human impact on the environment (Brower, 1999; Bierbaum, 2007). Environmental education is one key for implementing change (Disinger, 1982). Ijams Nature Center’s “Living Clean & Green!” program was developed with this goal in mind (P. Beute, personal communication, September 11, 2007). Ajzen’s (1991) Theory of Planned Behavior and Hines, Hungerford, and Tomera’s (1987) model of Responsible Environmental Behavior were used in this study to determine if behavior change occurred among adult participants of this program over a three-month period. Instructor interviews, workshop observation, pre-/post knowledge surveys, behavior questionnaires, and post telephone interviews were used to examine the characteristics of the program, participant knowledge, intention to engage in environmental behavior, and actual behavior change. The results indicated that participants did learn information in the course of the program, and intentions to change behavior were predicted by the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991). However, three months after the workshop, actual behavior change was not predicted by the theory, although behavior change did occur in a majority of participants. Unfortunately, participants did not connect changes in their behavior with overall environmental issues and human impacts on the environment. This program, offered through Ijams Nature Center, is effective in its goal to change human behavior, although its impact may increase if audiences can connect their individual behaviors to overall environmental impacts.

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