Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Teaching and Learning
Curriculum and Instruction
The purpose of this research was to determine the nature of the relationship between urban elementary fifth graders, environmental workers, and the environment. The study examined 320 urban fifth grade elementary students' drawings of environmental scientists (DAEST) and environmental caretakers (DAECT). Additionally, semi-structured interviews were included to elucidate student illustrations. The study's sample represented one-third of all fifth graders in the mid-Atlantic school district selected for this research. Approximately 5% of participants were chosen for follow-up semi-structured interviews based on their illustrations.
A general conclusion is some of the stereotypes, particularly related to gender, revealed in prior research (Barman, 1999, Chambers, 1983; Huber & Burton, 1995; Schibeci & Sorensen's, 1983; Sumrall, 1995) are evident among many elementary students. Male environmental scientists were drawn twice as often as female environmental scientists. Females were represented in more pictures of environmental caretakers than environmental scientists. Students overwhelmingly drew environmental scientists (98.1%) and environmental caretakers (76.5%) working alone.
Wildlife was noticeably absent from most drawings (85%). Where wildlife was included, it was most often birds (6.9%) and fish (3.1%). More than one species was evident in only 2.5% of the pictures.
Fifty percent of environmental caretakers were shown picking up trash from land. Actions such as reducing resource use occurred in only 13 out of 319 pictures (4.1%). Pictures of environmental caretakers sharing knowledge were even less common (2.5%). Almost 22% of females drew multiple individuals compared to 18.5% drawn by males. Females were more likely to show individuals collaborating (22.4% to 16.8%) while males were more likely to show individuals working in opposition (5.2% to 2.0%).
Horne, Patricia L..
"Urban Elementary Students' Views of Environmental Scientists, Environmental Caretakers and Environmentally Responsible Behaviors"
(2010). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Dissertation, Teaching and Learning, Old Dominion University, DOI: 10.25777/5hsy-a784