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Birds in the playground: Evaluating the effectiveness of an urban environmental education project in enhancing school children's awareness, knowledge and attitudes towards local wildlife.

Birds in the playground: Evaluating the effectiveness of an urban environmental education project in enhancing school children's awareness, knowledge and attitudes towards local wildlife. Thumbnail


Abstract

Children nowadays, particularly in urban areas, are more disconnected from nature than ever before, leading to a large-scale "extinction of experience" with the natural world. Yet there are many potential benefits from children interacting with nature first-hand, including via outdoor learning opportunities. Urban environmental education programmes typically aim to increase awareness and knowledge of local biodiversity and to promote positive attitudes and behaviour towards the environment. However, limited research has been conducted evaluating to what extent these interventions achieve their goals. Here, we explore and assess the influence of a six-week bird-feeding and monitoring project conducted within school grounds ("Bird Buddies") on individual awareness, knowledge and attitudes towards birds by primary school children. This initiative was conducted across eight (sub-)urban primary schools within Brighton and Hove (UK), with 220 participating children (aged 7 to 10). Via pre- and post-project questionnaires, we found evidence for enhanced awareness of local biodiversity, alongside significant gains in both bird identification knowledge and attitudes, which were greatest for children with little prior exposure to nature. Many children expressed a keenness to continue improving the environmental value of their school grounds and to apply elements of the project at home. Student project evaluation scores were consistently positive. Mirroring this, participating teachers endorsed the project as a positive learning experience for their students. One year after the project, several schools were continuing to feed and watch birds. Collectively, the findings from this study highlight the multiple benefits that can be derived from engagement with a relatively short outdoor environmental activity. We therefore believe that such interventions, if repeated locally/longer term, could enhance children's experience with nature in urban settings with combined positive environmental impact.

Citation

(2018). Birds in the playground: Evaluating the effectiveness of an urban environmental education project in enhancing school children's awareness, knowledge and attitudes towards local wildlife. PloS one, e0193993 - ?. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0193993

Acceptance Date Feb 22, 2018
Publication Date Mar 6, 2018
Journal PLoS One
Print ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Pages e0193993 - ?
DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0193993
Keywords birds; schools; children; teachers; human learning; wildlife; questionnaires; gulls
Publisher URL https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0193993

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