|Bogner, FX: Empirical Evaluation of an Educational Conservation Programme Introduced in Swiss Secondary Schools, International Journal of Science Education, 21, 1169-1185 (1999)|
This paper surveys influences of pupils’ participation in a conservation education programme by monitoring changes in their relevant knowledge as well as in their environmental perception. The programme in question is an extra-curricular education unit about an endangered migrant bird (Apus apus; Apodidae) which was initiated by a state-wide conservation agency and offered free of charge to all secondary schools of the German-speaking part of Switzerland. An activity package was provided to the participating classes and individually introduced by the classroom teacher during an entire school year. The programme highlighted the bird’s natural history and also focused on the individual involvement of pupils who built artificial nest-boxes and watched the bird's breeding and feeding behaviour at appropriate outdoors sites. A bilingual approach was included by sharing these observations with pupils of (French speaking) Senegal, this country being the wintering region of the bird. Based on an instrument measuring environmental perception, i.e. individuals’ preservation and conservation preferences (in an attitudinal and behavioural point of view), and built on construct validation procedures published in a previous study, the influences of the education programme were evaluated on a pre-post-test basis. The post-test was delayed for at least a month after experiencing the education programme in order to exclude short-term effects. The programme had a significant positive effect on the specific knowledge level and on two of the five environmental perception subscales. The results are discussed in the context of other related outdoor ecology education programmes.