Writing to learn ecology: a study of three populations of college students

TitleWriting to learn ecology: a study of three populations of college students
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsBalgopal, MM, Wallace, AM, Dahlberg, S
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Pagination67 - 90
Date Published2012/02/01/
ISBN Number1350-4622
Keywordsecology, environmental issues, learning, writing
AbstractBeing an ecologically literate citizen involves making decisions that are based on ecological knowledge and accepting responsibility for personal actions. Using writing-to-learn activities in college science courses, we asked students to consider personal dilemmas that they or others might have in response to how human choices can impact coastal dead zones around the world. We explored how undergraduate students (42 biology and 47 elementary education majors at a 4-year college and eight Native studies majors at a tribal college in the United States) identified their ecological dilemmas after reading about aquatic hypoxia. About 30% of the 4-year college students’s essays demonstrated a more ecologically literate understanding of hypoxia by the end of the study. The tribal college students improved their ecological literacy by 50%, albeit with a small sample size. Biology majors made more human-centered comments than the education majors. The Native American students often discussed trade-offs between quality of life and ecological consequences, and were classified as both human-centered and ecosystem-centered.