The Links Between Biological and Environmental Education

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This research was undertaken to investigate whether a conceptual change in the understanding of certain botanical concepts could be achieved by using an outcomes-based approach. It also attempted to evaluate whether the teachers developed professionally by developing their school garden and creating a booklet “Gardening with Flora”.The literature discussed here sets the scene and forms the foundation for determining what knowledge, skills and attitudes regarding the environment and plants, teachers generally possess and the best way to obtain them. Literature elucidating outcomes-based education,Curriculum 2005, the formation of resource materials and programmes involved in the solving of environmental issues especially the development and use of school gardens is included.


The environment is not an easy term to define as it is widely used and often with different connotations. The word “environment” has as its root “to environ”, which means to form a circle or ring around. The concept of “environment” has become broader over time. Loubser(1996a: pp. 6-7) mentions two holistic models of the environment. The first model, FIGURE 2.1, reflects a view of the environment, which emphasises sustainable management use of life support systems and which develops action strategies to solve and prevent environmental issues. These environmental issues arise from the political, economic and social aspects of our lives. They are related to the biophysical support systems – soil, water, air, plants,animals and the ecosystems in which they interact. The centre of FIGURE 2.1 shows the environment as interacting social, economic and political dimensions, resting upon a base of biophysical life support systems.In the second model, FIGURE 2.2, people are placed at the centre of all environmental concerns. This model recognises the natural (physical and biological) and cultural (social,agricultural, ethical, political, aesthetic and economic) origins of environmental problems. In essence, environmental problems are linked to all surrounding things, conditions and influences. The current definition for the “environment” in South Africa may be found in the National Environmental Management Act, (Act 107 of 1998). This is incorporated into the White Paper on Environmental Management Policy, 1999: p. 7. It reads:
“environment” means the surroundings within which humans exist and that are made up of:
i. the land, water and atmosphere of the Earth
ii. micro-organisms, plant and animal life
iii. any part or combination of (i) and (ii) and the interrelationship amongst and between them and
iv. the physical, chemical, aesthetic and cultural properties and conditions of the foregoing that influence human health and well being. For the purpose of this study the “environment” is defined as:“all things in the local surroundings including all that affects them”.Because people construct their own concept of “environment” there can be many different interpretations and this is explored in the questionnaire given to the participating teachers at the start of the actual project.


According to Hurry (1982), Roth (1992), Loubser (1996a) environmental literacy is essentially the “capacity to perceive and interpret the relative health of the environmental systems and take appropriate action to maintain, restore, or improve the health of those systems”. To be environmentally literate, a sound knowledge about the threats to our environment is essential. Roth (1992: pp. 8-9) recognised an environmentally literate citizen as one who:
• “recognises environmental problems when they arise
• takes action to correct environmental imbalances
• continues to gather information about environmental issues throughout his life
• is continually examining and re-examining the values of his or her culture in terms of new knowledge about humankind and resources”. Subbarini (1998) and Chacko (2001) both consider that these characteristics are needed to take appropriate actions to improve the quality of life and the quality of the environment. Environmental literacy draws upon six major areas: environmental sensitivity, knowledge,skills, attitudes and values, personal investment and responsibility, and active involvement (Disinger & Roth, 1992). From the six major areas, Disinger & Roth (1992) created four strands – knowledge, skills, affect and behaviour to be addressed in education for environmental literacy. These four strands are very similar to the Critical Outcomes deemed essential for the successful assessment of Outcomes-Based Education.In this study, the following definition of environmental literacy was used. “Environmental literacy is the ability to observe and interpret the relative healthiness of environmental systems and to take appropriate action to maintain, restore or improve the state of these systems”. A fundamental aspect of this project was the participants’ ability to assess the state of their school gardens and then to develop competency in the skills necessary to improve and maintain these gardens.


Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Appendices
Chapter 1  Introduction 
1.A. The Purpose 
1.B. The Origin of the Study
1.C. The Need for the Study 
1.D. The Context of the Study
1.E. The Unfolding of the Main Study
1.F. Research Questions 
1.G. Summary Of Future Chapters
Chapter 2   The Literature Related to the Preliminary and Main Studies
2.A. The Environment 
2.B. Environmental Literacy 
2.C. Environmental Education
2.C.1. The Objectives of Environmental Education
2.C.2. The Interdisciplinary Nature of Environmental Education
2.D. The Links Between Biological and Environmental Education
2.D.1. The Content of Biology and Environmental Education
2.D.2. The Attitude Required in Biology and Environmental Education
2.D.3. The Skills of Biology and Environmental Education
2.E. The Implementation of Environmental Education in a School Setting
2.F. Barriers to the Implementation of Environmental Education 
2.F.1. Affective and Psychological Factors of Teachers
2.F.2. Teacher Preparedness with regard to Skills
2.F.3. Teacher Preparedness with regard to Knowledge
2.F.4. Cultural Factors with respect to Teachers
2.F.5. Hegemonic Factors with respect to Teachers
2.G. Teacher Development 
2.H. The Background to and Nature of Educational Reform in South Africa
2.H.1. Outcomes-Based Education (OBE)
2.H.2. Curriculum 2005
2.I. Bringing about Educational Change
2.J. The Development and use of Resource Material
2.K. Curriculum Innovation underpinning the Research
2.K.1. Learning Methodologies for Biology and Environmental Education
2.K.2. Teaching Methodologies for Biology and Environmental Education
2.L. Programme Development
2.L.1. Science-Technology-Society
2.L.2. Education-For-Sustainability
2.L.3. Some Existing Environmental Programmes
2.M. Research Paradigms in Environmental Education
2.N. Gardening as a Change Vehicle
2.O. Overview of Chapter Two 
Chapter 3  General Research Methods 
3.A. Choice of Research Methodology 
3.B. Research Methods to address Environmental Literacy and Botanical Skills, Attitudes and Knowledge
3.B.1. Questionnaires
3.B.2. Interviews
3.B.3. Additional Methods
3.B.4. Triangulation
3.C. Methods Measuring the Professional Development of Teachers
3.C.1. Time-Line for the Main Study.
3.C.2. Research Questions
3.D. Evaluation and Assessment for Environmental Education Programmes
3.E. Summation
Chapter 4  Methods and Results of the Preliminary Study
4.A. Methodology 
4.B. Actual Preliminary Worksheets with Observations and Results
4.C. Conclusions
Chapter 5  The Main Study
5.A. Introduction
5.B. The Design of the Main Study 
5.C. The Methods, Observations, Results and Discussion Related To Question 1 
5.D. The Methods, Observations, Results and Discussion Related To Question 2, Hypothesis 1 
5.E. The Methods, Observations, Results and Discussion Related To Question 2, Hypothesis 2
5.F. The Methods, Observations, Results and Discussion Related To Question 3
5.G. The Methods, Observations, Results and Discussion Related To Question 4, Hypothesis 3. 
5.H. Discussion And Consolidation
Chapter 6  Research Conclusions And Recommendations 
6.A. Reflection on the Purpose of the Study
6.B. Assessment of the Programme 
6.C. Reflections on some of the Assumptions made at the Commencement of the Project
6.D. Reflections on some of the Issues raised in the Literature Review
6.E. Recommendations on the Implementation of Future Similar Programmes as InService Programmes 
6.F. Recommendations on the Implementation of Future Similar Programmes as PreService Programmes 
6.G. Conclusion


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