Promoting connectedness with nature through environmental education

TitlePromoting connectedness with nature through environmental education
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsLiefländer, AKristin, Fröhlich, G, Bogner, FXaver, P. Schultz, W
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Pagination370 - 384
Date Published2013/06/01/
ISBN Number1350-4622
Keywordsage-related change, environmental education, inclusion of nature in self, preadolescent students, relationship to nature
AbstractIt has been suggested that a positive human–nature relationship is essential for countering today’s environmental problems. Prior environmental education research has focused largely on knowledge or attitudinal outcomes, and few studies have examined the ability of environmental education programmes to promote connectedness with nature. Therefore, our goal was to (1) examine differences in connectedness with nature among a sample of children with differing ages and academic tracks, and (2) investigate whether environmental education can help promote and sustain connectedness with nature. With a pre-, post- and retention test design, we assessed a comprehensive four-day environmental education programme on water at a school field centre, using the inclusion of nature in self (INS) scale to identify the change in connectedness of 9–10-year-old pupils and 11–13-year-old pupils. We found that younger children and university-track pupils had higher INS scores than older children and general-education-track pupils, respectively. Participating in environmental education resulted in a robust short-term increase in connectedness with nature in both age groups. However, only the younger pupils’ connectedness remained sustained four weeks following the treatment. Environmental educators should keep in mind that strengthening connectedness to nature is more sustainable before the age of 11.