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Zero Waste Education: An evaluation of an environmental education programme

The Ministry of Education's Guidelines for Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools (1999) names five aims of what environmental education should achieve in New Zealand. These aims are for students to develop: "awareness and sensitivity to the environment and related issues; knowledge and understanding of the environment and the impact of people on it; attitudes and values that reflect feelings of concern for the environment; skills involved in identifying, investigating, and problem solving associated with environmental issues; and a sense of responsibility through participation and action as individuals, or members of groups whanau, or iwi, in addressing environmental issues" (Ministry of Education, 1999, p. 9). The research reported in this thesis describes the evaluation of the Zero Waste Education (ZWE) programme against these aims, as well as the goals of the programme itself. The ZWE programme is based in Tauranga and operates in primary schools around New Zealand delivering waste education to students. This research was conducted within the interpretivist paradigm. Data was collected using the case study method in one school in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, through interviews, parent questionnaires, student questionnaires, observations, and a focus group. Participants in this case study were students who had gone through the ZWE programme, their teachers and other members of the school staff, the ZWE educator, and the parents of the students who went through the programme. Data was organised by initially transcribing interview data, entering student questionnaire and parent questionnaire data into MS Excel spreadsheets and typing observational data. The organised data was then coded in a deductive approach based on the desired outcomes of EE and ZWE, and analysed for common themes that emerged in relation to these outcomes. The findings of this study indicate that the ZWE programme appears to be meetingits desired goals in general terms, as well as those of environmental education as a whole. The findings appeared to show a raise in student’s knowledge of composting and worms, as well as a raise in attitudes and awareness towards the waste issue. The findings also appeared show a level of intergenerational transfer and action taking occurring, with a few participating households reporting a change in their waste management practices and teachers commenting on observed actions of the students. One key recommendation to emerge from this study is for ZWE to further tighten its goals and discuss these with educators in order to enhance consistent achievement of the goals. Another recommendation discusses ways to further develop the action taking skills of participating students through the action competence approach and to ensure that these action taking skills have enough of an impact to last in the long term.
Type of thesis
Jones, B. (2014). Zero Waste Education: An evaluation of an environmental education programme (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8707
University of Waikato
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