Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Nicholas J. Smith-Sebasto

Committee Member

Alina M. Reznitskaya

Committee Member

Sandra D. Adams


Scholars of both general education and environmental education (EE) have suggested using targeted activities before and after field experiences may increase the assimilation of desired concepts by students (Ballantyne & Packer, 1996; Bogner, 1998; Dettmann- Easler & Pease, 1999; Flavell, 1979; Knapp & Poff, 2001; Marzano, Gaddy, & Dean, 2000). A search of the EE literature using the ERIC database for the years 1967-present found two studies that explored the use of additional activities to prepare for or reinforce concepts from zoo and garden programs (Farmer & Wott, 1995; Gutierrez de White & Jacobson, 1994), but none related to residential environmental education programs.

This study measured the effectiveness of pre- and post-trip in-class activities related to the residential EE program at the New Jersey School of Conservation (NJSOC) in changing 7th grade students’ attitudes toward the environment as measured on the Environmental Adaptation, Environmental Trust, and Pastoralism subscales of the Children’s Environmental Response Inventory developed by Bunting and Cousins (1983, 1985). The pre-trip activity was designed to activate students’ prior knowledge and expectations of spending time in the outdoors in nonhuman-dominated areas. In the posttrip activity, students considered their experiences and learning at the NJSOC and expressed how it changed their beliefs and feelings about the environment.

Of the four treatment groups (NJSOC program only, pre-trip activity and NJSOC program, NJSOC program and post-trip activity, and NJSOC program with both pre-trip and post-trip activities), only the group given both additional activities showed a statistically significant change in scores on any of the subscales. This change was on the Environmental Adaptation subscale (t = -2.37, p = 0.01). Additionally, the group that participated in both additional activities was the only one to show the expected directional change on all three subscales.

Though the results of this study are preliminary, they offer some insight into the effects of using classroom activities before and after a residential EE experience to improve students’ attitudes toward the environment. It appears additional activities conducted at the students’ school may be effective in causing students to consider their relationship with the environment and in increasing positive attitudes toward it. The conclusions of this study are tentative, however, and additional research is needed to further investigate the use of pre- and post-trip activities related to residential EE.

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