CREATION AND EVALUATION
By Tamzin Barber
(BA Honours - University of Queensland 1996)
INTRODUCTION AND HOW TO USE THIS MANUAL
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND ECOTOURISM
CREATING ECO-ACTION EDUCATION PROGRAMS
EVALUATING ECO-ACTION EDUCATION PROGRAMS
CREATING A CHECKLIST FOR EVALUATION
LS of tables
How ecotourism relates to the
components of eco-action education and
what participants can gain from this.
INTRODUCTION AND HOW TO USE THIS MANUAL
This manual has been put together to assist individuals, groups, organisations and
ecotourist attractions to develop environmental education programs that may have more
of an effect on people’s long-term attitudes and behaviours towards the environment.
It is a result of research conducted as an honours degree from the University of
Queensland within the Geographical Sciences and Planning department. This type of
research comes under the field of ‘environmental psychology’, a term developed by the
author to signify psychology based research which concentrates on human interaction
with the natural environment, and the effects this has on attitudes towards the
environment. It is undertaken in a hope to identify and produce the best ways of
developing more environmentally aware and responsible individuals.
An evaluation of a cetacean based ecotourist attraction at Tangalooma Moreton
Island Resort in Queensland, Australia, was part of the research undertaken to develop
the ideas within this manual. The results lead to the identification of eco-action
education and its components. A knowledge base for the assessment and implementation
of effective environmental education programs into ecotourism was formulated. A rigid
and specific environmental education program outline was not the intent or purpose of
this study. Rather, the intent
efficient eco-action education programs as part of ecotourist attractions, and to show the
value and purpose of these.
was to supply suggestions for the implementation of cost
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCA?ION AND ECOTOURISM
Traditionally environmental education has been given through the schooling
system (Linke 1980). It has concentrated on education about and in the environment
only. This education, which aimed to change the way people treated the earth, has not
succeeded (Linke 1980; Ramsey, Hungerford and Volk 1989).
One place it has the potential to be very effective is within the ecotourist industry,
due to this industry’s underlying objectives of sustainability of natural environments and
access to a large number of people. Although education in ecotourism is becoming
widely recognised and increasingly incorporated, there has been very little research to
show the actual benefits of it (Crabtree and Weiler 1996; Orams 1995a; Uysal, Jurowski,
Noe and McDonald 1994).
Many environmental education programs are based on the assumption that
providing knowledge about environmental issues is enough to promote changes in an
individual’s environmental behaviour. This has found to be untrue (Swan 1974; Eyers
1978). Increasing knowledge is critical to the process but should not be the whole
process (Biek, Wood and Chaiken 1996).
Eco-action education is education given concerning the natural
environment, that impacts positively on an individual’s long-term
environmental attitudes and behaviours. It includes education about, in
and for the environment as well as addressing particular personality
factors and learning theories.
Environmental education programs which operate on this basis should include:
- Education about the environment
- This provides information on environmental issues and teaches facts about the
- Education in the environment
- This is any form of education concerning the environment not given in the
traditional classroom, but preferably out in a natural setting (Lit&e 1980; Lucas
1979). It should also concentrate on interaction that is ‘appreciative’ (e.g.
camping, photography) rather than ‘consumptive’ (e.g. fishing, hunting) (Hampel,
Bolder0 and Holdsworth 1996) to increase concern for the environment.
- Education for (preservation of) the environment
- This aims to increase awareness of environmental problems in order to increase
understanding, interest and preservation for the environment.
- Addressing of personality factors locus of control and sense of responsibility
- Locus of control refers to an individual’s perception of their ability to influence
changes in their lives (Hines, Hungerford and Tomer 1986/87). There are two
types of locus of control, internal and external, and individuals are predominately
motivated by one of these. People with an internal locus of control believe that
for the most part, they have control of what happens in their lives, and that by
adapting their behaviour they can change the direction of their lives (Hines et al
1986/87). People with external locus of control do not attempt to change their
lives through their actions, as they believe change occurs as a result of fate and is
therefore for the most part beyond their control (Hines et al 1986/87).
- Theories of learning -the affective and cognitive domains
- Cognitive theories deal with concepts of thinking and knowledge. They describe
how individuals organise external knowledge and experiences into pre-existing
cognitive structures called schemes and how this process may lead to behaviour
change via a psychologically uncomfortable state known as ‘cognitive
dissonance’ (Piaget 1970; Festinger 1957). People adapt their behaviour and
beliefs so that they are consistent. Eco-action education can change people’s
environmental beliefs, resulting in consequent changes of behaviour to avoid
- The affective domain is that which deals with an individual’s emotions and value
system. Part of the process of eco-action education is to tap into the affective
domain to create an emotional response towards the environment, which will then
contribute to an individuals learning and eventual behaviour change (Smith and
Take for example cetacean based attractions. Dolphins have been seen to cause
strong emotional response in many people (Dobbs 1981; Smith 1987; Cochrane
and Callen 1992; Dobbs 1992). This results in positive influence of affective
domain. As most of Australia’s tourist industry is associated with the coastal
fringe and the wildlife which depend on these environments, people being
educated about cetaceans and the marine environment through eco-action
education programs, could contribute to long term positive effects for the whole
earth (Ding and Pigram 1996).
ECOTOURISM LEARNING WHAT
Participation Affective Direct experience
Interpretation and Cognitive Indirect experience
Conservation Affective and Encouragement
Table 1: How ecotourism relates to the components of eco-action education
and what participants can gain from this.
CREATTING ECO-AC?ION EDUCATION PROGRAMS
The components of eco-action education can be incorporated into an environmental
education program in the following ways:
- Clearly state your learning objectives and relevant issues, these should be identified
and passed on to participants (Gubbay 1989; Hungerford and Volk 1990;
Niedermeyer 1992; Wilson 1993).
- Focus on cognitive and affective domains (Gigliotti 1980; Gubbay 1989; Hungerford
and Volk 1990; Niedermeyer 1992; Orams 1995a). Provide good factual information
plus interaction which will emotionally affect participants.
- Have a relevant and holistic approach (Hodges 1990; Ladd 1994). Show participants
how the various ecosystems interrelate.
- Be local as well as global in nature (Gubbay 1989; Hungerford and Volk 1990;
Niedermeyer 1992). Show local environmental issues and world issues and how
these relate to each other.
- Create a sense of personal responsibility in participants (Gubbay 1989; Hodges 1990;
Wilson 1993). If an individual feels personally involved and interested they are more
likely to protect that which they believe in.
- Identify practical activities that make a difference. It has been discovered that
environmental actions which demand a lifestyle alteration too sever will not be
incorporated into an individual’s behaviour (Van Liere and Dunlap 1981). Therefore
relatively basic changes should be introduced and accepted before expecting extreme
changes to occur.
- Solutions and activities provided should be appropriate to the skill level of the
participants and should be adjusted as skills develop (Niedetmeyer 1992; Orams
1996b). If they are too difficult or easy they will not hold the participants interest.
- Get the whole family involved. Pass on information, skills and activities which can
be taken back and utilised within people’s homes (Armstrong 1993; Lennox 1995).
- Give feedback. Reinforce attitudes and build up participant’s confidence, especially
if they are learning new ideas or concepts (Gubbay 1989; Hungerford and Volk 1990;
Wilson 1993; Orams 1996b).
- Believe in the abilities of the participants, especially children. Belief along with task
oriented education leads to higher achievement and higher motivation (Midgley,
Anderman and Hicks 1995).
- Include commentaries, as these are very influential on participant’s knowledge. This
can be used as an advantage by passing on as many environmental friendly messages
as possible. Commentators can also be seen as positive role models concerning
environmental behaviours and attitudes.
EVALUATING ECO-ACTION EDUCAl-ION PROGRAMS
It is very important to evaluate the impact that an education program has.
Evaluations should be undertaken to help development, and should also be part of the
regular operation of an eco-action education program. Evaluations help to keep the
program ‘on track’, to improve it and make it more efficient. There are different ways to
evaluate an eco-action education program. This manual concentrates on one, that of
checklists. Checklists are a good tool for assessment and evaluation but should not be
used as the only evaluative method (Norris 1994; Somekh, Davies and MacLure 1994).
Programs need constant monitoring and evaluation, therefore checklists should be
adapted and administered frequently (B.O.T.R.Q. 1993).
Checklists summarise focal points to allow analysis of them (Glesne and Peshkin
1992). Keep in mind that checklists may limit the detail of information recorded due to
the predetermined categories which determine the overall score. It is important to include
a comments section to combat this problem (Glesne and Peshkin 1992; Niedermeyer
1992; Norris 1994).
For example note the targeted audience, is the program specifically designed for a
specific audience, age, race gender etc. What about the staff, are they trained properly, is
there enough staff available for participants, are the staff good role models?
Also keep in mind that checklist results are prone to subjective bias, and
therefore should be completed by individuals who are not personally involved in the
programs under evaluation so as to be as objective and useful as possible. If possible
more than one evaluator should be utilised to ensure validity and reliability (Norris 1994;
Somekh et al 1994; Niedermeyer 1992).
CREATING A CHECKLIS? FOR EVALUATION
The following is recommended to be included within a checklist for evaluation of
your environmental program.
Education in the environment (affective domain, experience, concern)
- Indicate the level of experience/interaction with nature (one point each). What type of
experiences are offered, interaction with captive animals, wild animals? The more
the better, so that the participants get an opportunity to experience a diverse range of
- Is the experience interesting and fun (one point for each), ask the participants so as
not to be subjective in answering.
- Do the experiences triggers emotions (positive emotions one point, no emotion or
negative emotions minus one point), again the participants are the best indicators of
- Are the experiences ‘appreciative’ or ‘consumptive’ based (one point for
appreciative, minus one point for consumptive).
Education about the environment (knowledge, cognitive domain)
- What is the quantity and quality of information provided (point out of five for each).
- In what different contexts is information presented i.e. posters, books, videos,
pamphlets, audio, presentations etc (one point for each inclusion).
Education for the environment (skills, cognition)
- Is information on how to help the environment supplied (one point for each
- In what different contexts is this information provided (one point for each context
- Are examples of how to help the environment within the abilities of the participants?
Gauge this by how interested participants are, also ask them how well they
understand the information and how comfortable they would be undertaking it. (Rate
out of five.)
Locus of control (encouragement)
- Are participants encouraged to learn and think for themselves and see that their
actions to make a difference (rate out of five)?
- Is feedback provided for participants? Are they given the opportunity to give their
feedback? How well is this listened to and appreciated? (Rate out of five.)
- What form is the feedback given in (one point for each form), oral, written, group
Sense of responsibility
- What type of role models are given? Are any given? Do they include different age
groups, gender and race? (One point for each area covered, minus three points if no
- Are tasks outlined for participants to undertake during and after their visit? What
contexts are they given in? (One point for each and one point for each context given
- Are participants encouraged to retain the knowledge, skills and attitudes they have
learned (rate out of five)? In what ways is this accomplished (one point for each)?
The more points the program accumulates the better. The program should include at
least 70% of the mentioned components to be of any benefit. Many programs are strong
in education about and in the environment, but fall down in their education for the
environment. They also seem to nearly completely overlook issues concerned with
personality factors and locus of control, and the strong influence of learning theories.
This should be kept in mind when assessing, implementing and improving current
As mentioned earlier, this manual is only a rough outline of suggestions for
implementation and assessment of eco-action education programs within ecotourism.
It is based on very limited research. Much more trial and error is needed within
this area to produce a fail-safe eco-action education program, if that is ever possible.
Long-term effects of these programs on individuals attitudes and behaviours
towards the environment need to be further assessed. Specific types of participants e.g.
children etc., need to be individually assessed to determine the differences needed within
programs to benefit these participants. Also cross-cultural assessments of these programs
If you have any suggestions for improvement of eco-action education programs,
their evaluation or suggestions/comments concerning this manual, the author would be
more than happy to hear from you.
The authors aim is to determine the best ways of educating the peoples of the
earth to preserve it for the future. Eco-action education programs may or may not be one
of the best ways to accomplish this. There has just not been enough research to date to
If you would like to contact the author her address is:
MS Tamzin Barber
PO Box 1153
Victoria 3 124
Thank you for taking the time to read this manual. It is the author’s wish that it
has been able to bring to you some information you previously did not know, and that it
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