The architecture of children’s relationships with nature: a phenomenographic investigation seen through drawings and written narratives of elementary students

Research
TitleThe architecture of children’s relationships with nature: a phenomenographic investigation seen through drawings and written narratives of elementary students
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsKalvaitis, D, Monhardt, RM
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Volume18
Issue2
Pagination209 - 227
Date Published2012/04/01/
ISBN Number1350-4622
Keywordschildren, constructivism, developmental, drawings, nature, phenomenography, relationship
AbstractHow do young children portray and describe their relationships with nature? In what ways do young children’s relationships with nature vary by grade level? These two research questions guided this phenomenographic study, which investigated developmental differences in children’s relationships with nature. A total of 176 children, aged 6–11, from ten classrooms in grades 1–5 participated and were asked to ‘draw pictures of themselves outside doing something and write about their picture and their relationship with nature’. The draw and write methodology was employed within a constructivist framework. Drawings were analyzed using binary quantitative visual content analysis procedures and were further statistically investigated using SAS/STAT. Written narratives were analyzed with NVIVO 8 to further triangulate findings. Results indicated that at all grade levels, children demonstrated a positive relationship with nature. Variations were found between grade level groups with increasing or decreasing trends in the types of activities, settings, and people portrayed. Younger children included more family, friends, insects, and animals, while older children included more natural areas, chores, and hiking. The implications of considering the range of children’s relationships with nature for environmental education are explored.
URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2011.598227