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Can we make environmental citizens? A randomised control trial of the effects of a school-based intervention on the reported behaviour of young people Goodwin, M., Greasley, S., John, P., and Richardson, L. Institute for Political & Economic Governance http://www.ipeg.org.uk Background ► Personal responsibility and behaviour change ► Pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour traced to increasing individual contribution (e.g. Defra, 2008) ► Children and the environment - an oft-neglected aspect: “…little is known about the contents of early childhood environmental attitudes and behaviors” (Evans et al. 2007, p.636) ► School-based environmental education programmes: one method used to encourage the development of pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour ► Literature on civic education which shows modest effect Current state of knowledge ► Evidence to support proposition that school-based environmental education programmes exert positive effect (for reviews see Rickinson, 2001; Zelezny 1999). ► Example #1: Bogner’s (1998) experiment investigated the effects of a 5-day residential programme on 351 secondary school students. Compared with a control group, participants reported significant gains in knowledge, attitudes and intended behaviour. ► Example #2: Evaluation of a 5-day residential programme on 697 students reported a significant difference in attitudes toward wildlife which were also greater than a control group. Also suggested long-term attitudinal change (Dettman-Easler & Pease 1999) ► Evaluation of 10 week high-school course based on pre-/post-testing found environmental knowledge and attitudes increased but study not based on comparison with a control group (Bradley et al. 1999) ► No need to preach here about RCTs! Study Design ► Setting for the study was Vale Royal, Cheshire (Frodsham, Northwich, Winsford) ► Population of 126,000, 98.8% white ► In 2004 Vale Royal was ranked 154th most deprived out of 354 English districts (fourth highest ranked Cheshire district) ► Deprivation low ► Educational performance (GCSE) better than national average ► Intervention focused on children in Year 3 (aged 7-9 years) ► 27 primary schools opted into the study (1 later withdrew) ► Randomised into two treatment groups and one control group 8 schools allocated to ‘long’ treatment 8 schools allocated to ‘short’ treatment 11 schools allocated to control group (treatment deferred for one year) ► Randomisation implemented in Excel using method suggested by Shadish et al. (2002, p.313) Intervention ► Long treatment group Two in-class environmental education talks and knowledge-based DVD Homework environmental workbook and activities ► Short treatment group Two in-class environmental education talks and knowledge-based DVD ► Control group ► Schools divided into two phases to aid delivery of intervention (Jan-April 2008, April-July 2008) ► Duration of programme from baseline-post-survey collection was approx. four months ► Deliverer of intervention and surveys was different (former trained instructor, latter teacher) ► Outcome measures obtained via pre-/post-surveys: 1. Survey completed in-class and supervised by teacher 2. Homework survey completed in collaboration with parents/guardian Basic features on the study: overview ► 715 pupils ► Average number per school – 26.5 pupils ► Classes ranged from 19-38 children ► Response rate – 63% (completing baseline and post-test in-class survey) ► Response rate to household survey much lower (26%) ► We could find no difference in the characteristics of non-responders between groups for either survey ► Quick report on the homework and household survey ► Methods use regression with clustered standard errors to control for clustering ► Target variable: reported environmental behaviour 5 point additive scale (0-4): -Recycle rather than throw things away -Take part in litter picks -Walk or cycle to school rather than use car -Waste less food at home Measures as children’s response and also adult carers Regression on classroom score Table 1: Baseline, post-test means and average change (classroom) Baseline Post-test Av. Individual Obs mean mean change Control 2.22 2.27 +0.05 176 Long 1.95 2.15 +0.2 127 Short 2.30 2.35 +0.05 123 All 2.16 2.26 +0.09 426 Table 2: Ordered Probit Model of post-test scores (standard errors clustered by school) Co-efficient P-value Short intervention 0.086 0.706 Long intervention -0.129 0.559 Regression on households Table 3: Baseline, post-test means, average change (household survey) Baseline mean Post-test mean Av. Individual Obs change 2.51 2.65 0.135 74 Long 2.45 2.55 0.091 44 Short 2.49 2.51 0.018 57 Table 4: Ordered Probit regression of post-test scores (standard errors clustered by school) Co-efficient P-value Short intervention -0.196 0.442 Long intervention -0.161 0.587 Summary ► Lack of change in reported behaviour ► Some change in reported behaviour but not significantly different between experimental groups ► Caution from localised nature of the study and small N
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