Date of Award

Winter 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Director

Daniel Dickerson

Committee Member

Linda Bol

Committee Member

Eileen Hofmann


The purpose of this research is to examine teachers' views of environmental education (EE) at the elementary level. The study addresses teachers' attitudes toward the EE at the elementary school level and their self-efficacy in teaching EE.

The study's sample consisted of 201 randomly selected kindergarten through fifth grade United States public school teachers. The participants completed an on-line survey with eight percent of the respondents participating in follow up interviews. The questionnaire measured two constructs; Teachers Attitudes Toward EE and Teacher Efficacy in EE. Teachers Attitudes Toward EE had 3 subscales; Advocacy for EE, Stewardship in EE, and Using the Outdoors. Teacher Efficacy in EE had two subscales; Confidence in Knowledge of Issues and Resources and Perception of Training and Support . Interview questions were aligned with the questionnaire subscales.

Frequency percentages and means were examined for each subscale and items within each. ANOVA was conducted to examine possible relationships between subscale means and four independent variables; school demographic (rural suburban, urban), currently teaches science, years of teaching experience, and grade level taught. Interview data were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded. Coding categories were aligned with questionnaire subscales. All data were examined in context of the literature and the research questions.

Results indicate that elementary teachers have positive attitudes toward EE and believe that EE concepts can be integrated into core content subjects. Teachers agree that stewardship is important to teach as part of elementary EE, but expressed caution when dealing with controversial topics and issues. Additionally, although teachers are aware of the importance of the child-nature connection, they did not advocate for the inclusion of outdoor lessons and activities in EE. Teachers' confidence in their knowledge of EE and environmental issues was low; however they were mostly confident that they could locate appropriate resources. Teachers in this study reported that they had received little or no training in EE and do not receive encouragement for EE from their administrators.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).