טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentPeled Einat
SubjectEnvironmental Education in Elementary School in Israel:
Program Characteristics, Teachers Views and
Students Environmental Literacy
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Professor Tali Tal
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

In the past fifty years, Environmental Education (EE) has been recognized as a major tool for increasing of students' environmental knowledge, awareness and behavior.  However, the implementation of EE in schools was not free of difficulties. As in many other countries, EE in Israel is not yet part of the core curriculum. Yet, a growing number of schools integrate EE in their curriculum as they understand its importance. The main aim of this exploratory study was to investigate the nature of EE and its practices in Israeli elementary schools. Additionally we studied EE teachers' views and examined students' environmental literacy. The timeframe of the study was 18 months, from September 2010 to March 2012. Data analysis shows that EE in schools is characterized by a gap between rhetoric and reality in many areas. It seems that the main reason for the gap is the difficulties EE teachers face, such as the lack of a proper training and knowledge of learning theories. Another finding is the emphasis on behavioral change through teaching strategies and activities which focus on students' environmental behavior. This approach contradicts contemporary theories, such as sustainable education or education for sustainable development, which emphasize individual transformation in one's views rather training for proper behavior. Analysis of the environmental literacy questionnaire shows that elementary school students have a better general-system and action-oriented knowledge, than knowledge about local environmental issues. In addition, they tend to recycle and reuse different materials more than adopt other forms of environmental behavior. We also found that students form environmental schools have a greater environmental knowledge, hold more pro-environmental attitudes and indicate on acting more environmentally than students from non-environmental schools.

In summary, we find EE in schools comprehensive and diverse, and that EE teachers are very committed to their work. However, a great effort should be dedicated in order to reduce the rhetoric-reality gaps found in this study, and to promote the knowledge and use of learning theories and strategies which focus more on the development of deep thinking and action-competency. 

Theoretically, this study contributes to the knowledge about EE practice in schools, teachers' views of EE and to assessment of environmental literacy. Practically, this study points to the significant role of teachers in EE and to the importance of supporting them in their EE efforts. Our recommendations could inform decision-makers and as a result contribute to the field of EE in Israeli schools.