Fostering environmental consciousness with collaboration in an elementary school class
Dr. Birgitta Kopp, University of Munich, GERMANY, firstname.lastname@example.org
Environmental consciousness is an especially important value for society as global pollution grows rapidly. Thus, it is necessary to sensitize children for the need of keeping the world clean and avoid further pollution. One topic which is relevant in this context is water protection. Water is a valuable property which should get more into awareness specifically in industrial nations where currently water shortage is not a big problem.
To foster environmental consciousness in an elementary school class, a lesson on the topic of water protection in science education was conceptualized in a fourth grade. In this lesson, first, students individually had to read a specific text on water protection and extract action tips based on the text and on the students’ pre-knowledge. Secondly, they collaboratively had to come to a joint solution about all tips they want to further realize in their daily lives in small groups of three to four kids.
The main purpose of the study was to investigate, whether collaboration was effective in order to foster the quality of the individually generated tips regarding their implementation impact. Therefore, we analyzed the tips of one group of four students of a fourth grade in an elementary school: two girls and two boys. Data sources were based on the individually created tips of all group members and on the collaboratively mentioned tips. All tips were analyzed according to their units of meaning. Same meanings were taken together to one code. Overall, there were five main different codes detected. These codes could be sub-divided into specific tips. Overall, the first member mentioned 3 tips, the second 8, the third 6, and the fourth 4 tips. Regarding the group level, the four students had 14 different tips.
The single tips were further assigned to three levels of quality: The first level includes tips that students could not realize themselves very well, like reflected shopping. The second level comprised all tips the kids have partially influence on, like sparing the consumption of strawberries (from countries where strawberries are watered). And the third level included all tips the kids could implement themselves, like the sparing of paper consumption or preferring seasonal products. According to their level of quality, all tips received a score from 1 (low quality) to 3 (high quality).
When looking at all tips that were written down by the students individually, they received a quality score of 2.18. When looking at the eight tips which were transferred into the group product, the score was 2.38. Thus, the difference is 0.20, indicating that the quality of the tips increased during group work.
When further analyzing the quality of the six tips which were only mentioned individually and not integrated into the group product, the score was 1.67, so quite low. This result shows that the group omitted tips with a low-quality score regarding their implementation impact.
When calculating the difference between the quality of the tips which were included into the group product and the tips which were missing in the group product, but mentioned individually, the score raised to 0.71. Thus, results indicate that the quality of tips regarding their implementation impact increased almost about three-fourths during collaboration.
Even though, this is a small case study with one student group of four students, the fine-grained analysis of individual and collaborative work shows an increase of the quality of tips regarding their implementation impact. This is an important result in so far as acting in the sense of environmental consciousness is a necessary pre-requisite for stopping global pollution. Furthermore, the study shows that science education in elementary schools can sensitize students for environmental issues and transfer their knowledge into behavior.
Keywords: Environmental consciousness, collaboration, elementary school.
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