Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

James A. Tucker

Second Advisor

John T. Baldwin

Third Advisor

Robson Marinho

Abstract

Problem. In the United States, there is an environmental literacy problem. Americans possess limited knowledge about the environment and environmental issues, and they display limited positive action regarding the environment in which they live. Moreover, there is a debate whether a Christian’s interpretation of Gen 1:28 leads either to a lower or to a higher environmental literacy. Does the Seventh-day Adventist teaching community reflect these problems? These are the problems which this dissertation seeks to help solve.

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to attempt to assess the environmental literacy of a group of teachers in Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) parochial schools who teach in the schools of the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, to determine what the level of environmental literacy is, and to discover the interpretations that these educators have of Gen 1:28. The study specifically looked at four dimensions of these teachers’ environmental literacy: (a) teachers’ attitudes toward the environment, (b) teachers’ feelings toward their roles in causing environmental change, (c) teachers’ interactions with their environment, and (d) teachers’ level of knowledge about the environment and issues involved. The teachers’ interpretations of Gen 1:28 were also studied. Thus, this study seeks to assist in helping to solve both the environmental literacy and praxis deficits in America.

Method. This research employed a survey research method. The teachers of the parochial schools of the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists were asked to respond to the survey. A census survey was utilized to conduct a study of the teachers’ environmental literacy and their interpretation of Gen 1:28. Data analysis included descriptive statistics of the results, correlational analysis to determine relationships between the variables, analysis of variance (ANOVA) to determine significance of relationships between variables, and the PASW® general linear model (GLM), which includes ANOVA and regression, to test for interaction effects between demographic variables. Open-ended questions about Gen 1:28 were analyzed in terms of the answers to the research questions for emerging similarities among the participants’ responses. The resulting patterns and themes were examined in relationship to answers on the WELS.

Results. The teachers of the parochial schools operated by the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists who participated in the study showed nominal environmental literacy. The mean total environmental literacy score was 66%. The subscale that the participants scored the highest on was the cognitive subscale (76%), followed by the affective subscale (73%) and, lastly, the behavioral subscale (49%). As suggested by the scores, these teachers have room for improvement. A significant difference in cognitive subscale scores between White, Non-Hispanics, and Hispanics was discovered. The study discovered four themes in teachers’ interpretations of Gen 1:28. The themes included: responsibility, take care of the environment, earth as a gift, and self-serving.

Conclusions. Environmental-literacy research needs to be conducted with more groups of Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) teachers and the general population of SDAs. The present study provides a baseline on which to build studies. More research could further explore the reason for the apparent disconnect between what is known and felt as compared to what is actually done. This study could be useful in the advancing of discussion about the need for environmental education programs in teacher education and the development of such programs. Before this study, the data did not address the effect that teachers’ religious beliefs have on environmental literacy. Similarly, the effect of ethnicity on environmental literacy has rarely been looked at. This study began to address differences based on ethnicity. Studies could be done on the amount and kind of environmental education preparation that teachers receive and the effects these have on teachers’ environmental literacy.

Subject Area

Environmental literacy--Florida, Seventh-day Adventist teachers--Florida--Attitudes.

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