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Understanding of Pollution among 4th, 8th, and 11th Grade Students.
The Journal of Environmental Education
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Abstract: This study assessed 4th, 8th, and 11th grade students' understanding of natural and social science concepts related to pollution. A representative sample of public school students (n = 105) in 11 Maine schools was selected, and students were interviewed on four concept principles considered critical to a full understanding of the pollution problem. The concept of pollution included the much publicized issues of solid and toxic waste as well as air, soil, and water pollution. Research assertions were summarized in generalized correct concept statements indicating the extent of current student knowledge. Common misconceptions were also noted. This study considered student understanding from a human ecological perspective, that is, as an integrated set or cluster of concepts related to pollution. This reflects a complex, integrated, and multidisciplinary conception of natural phenomena. Human constructivism, meaningful learning theory, and principles related to the relevance of student schema in the design of curriculum and instructional strategies guided this work. The results of this study have implications for teaching about pollution and the design of science education curriculum materials based upon student knowledge. This information can guide teaching strategies concerning current environmental problems and thus help learners gain an appreciation for the complex and multi-disciplinary nature of science, technology, and society and how they affect the environment.
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