Environmental awareness paperJuly 10, 2007
The mirror-neurons approach (see Gallese, 2000, and other studies) triggered recently some good ideas how to build up the awareness paper in environmental education.
The working title is:
Conceptualizing awareness in environmental education: an example of knowing about air-related problems
The main idea would be demonstrating how environmental literacy development has been exploiting the knowledge-related conceptual awareness conception, while there are studies from dynamic systems about situation awareness , and the studies about mirror neurons of the embodied simulation of actions and emotions perceived by other people which suggest towards activity related awareness.
I would claim that as environmental problems are very complex and multi-perspective, and the latter activity-centered awareness conception is more relevant, and it should not be forgotten.
Current situation in teaching environmental behaviours relies heavily on taught conceptual knowledge and behaviours, while it has been demonstrated that in real activities people do not behave accordingly. They have real problems in being aware of the situation in general sense, which is in most cases the real cause of dilemma type of problems. Thus, it is necessary to teach awareness not as a knowledge-based conception only, but simulated activities in dynamic problem-solving cases (role-plays, investigations, analysis of newspapers) should be organised as well. I think it is necessary to integrate this activity-related awareness into the environmental literacy model.
The empirical data were collected by Eneken Metsalu, the master student under my supervision. There were students’ questionnaires and teachers’ interviews about teaching methods. The separate factor analysis with certain questionnaire items enabled to find the conceptual awareness about four air-related problem issues. Next the factors were classified into nice hierachical clusters that integrated social-awareness components; task-and process awareness components; and contextual knowledge awareness + task- and process awareness components.
K-means clustering and subsequent discriminant analysis showed that also people could be clusered into the same kind of types.
The most interesting was that if the students learned with active methods outdoors they were significantly belonging into the cluster of only task- and process awareness (2).
If they did active learning where posters were developed and brainstorming sessions were carried out, they had only social and contextual awareness (1).
Only the students who got traditional lecturing were having both the task- and process, social and and contextual awareness (3), supposedly because these awareness components were clearly elaborated by their teacher.
paper is published in SEI Science Education International