Date of Award

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Robert B. Powell, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Marc J. Stern

Committee Member

Edmond P. Bowers

Abstract

Environmental education (EE) aims to create environmentally literate individuals that have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to solve important environmental issues (NAAEE, 2012; Stapp, 1969; Stern, Powell, & Hill, 2014). However, little research examines which educator behaviors and approaches enhance outcomes in an EE program. Utilizing student surveys, programmatic observations, and qualitative notes collected from 334 EE youth field trip programs for fifth through eighth grades, this study examined linkages between emotional support behaviors used by educators and positive learning outcomes for students grades 5-8. Past research in formal educational settings suggests that emotional support behaviors yield positive outcomes for students (e.g., Hamre & Pianta, 2005; McCroskey et al., 1995; Rudasill, Gallagher, & White, 2010). This study fills this gap in the literature by examining the influence of similar emotional support behaviors in informal EE field trip programs on student outcomes. This research found that emotional support behaviors explained 10% of the variance in student outcomes. Based on the resulting model, we suggest that positive emotional support behaviors should be considered in future educator training programs.

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