Wongchantra, Prayoon, Prasart Nuangchalerm, 2011. Effects of Environmental Ethics Infusion Instruction on Knowledge and Ethics of Undergraduate Students. Research Journal of Environmental Sciences 5 (1): 73-77. It’s not easy to define what environmental literacy is, but based on discussions of (Schneider, 1997) and (Bobick, 2001), we can say that environmental literacy is the capability for a contextual and detailed understanding of an environmental problem in order to enable analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and ultimately sound and informed decision making at a citizen’s level.
This means that “environmentally literate” students will have the knowledge, tools, and sensitivity to properly address an environmental problem in their professional capacity, and to routinely include the environment as one of the considerations in their work and daily living.
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With the aim of studying the environmental knowledge and environmental ethics of undergraduate students enrolled in environmental technology of the Mahasarakham University in Thailand during the 1st semester of academic year 2008, the authors tried to compare the total scores of two groups of students based on the teaching method, the control group and the experimental group, with 30 students each group; likewise, comparing the results of the total scores of the said two groups based on sexes.
Meanwhile, the participants of this study were selected by a simple random sampling technique dividing the 60 students into two groups; an experimental group of 30 students who were subjected to environmental ethics infusion method and the control group of another 30 students who used the traditional method. Noticeably, no data were given as to the number of female or male students used for each group. Thus, there is no way to establish conclusion that such sex group, either male or female, is more environmentally knowledgeable than the other.
Morever, the traditional method was not clearly outlined as to what scope it should have covered unlike that of the infusion of environmental ethics which used a lot of instructional strategies like incorporating Buddhist novels and socio-environmental examples. The research instruments which included 4 lesson plans on environmental education for 4 weeks were considerably important to allow students achieve higher scores compared to the group which did not use reinforcements at all.
It is appreciated how the students in the experimental group responded to the use of instructional strategies in terms of infusion method and how these methodologies increased students’ awareness and understanding of the environment and its current status and problems. It is believed that these tools facilitated learning to the group and were effectively used by the researchers to achieve their goals and objectives. This conforms the studies made by Wiesenmayer, et al, 1984 that interdisciplinary approaches for examining environmental problems seem to be more effective than traditional approaches.
It is further recommended that other instructional tools should be employed like that of group projects which includes simulations, role playing, case studies, problem solving exercises, group collaborative work, debates, small group discussion, and brainstorming. With the technology we have now and with instant access to vast resources of data and information online, students should no longer be totally dependent on faculty for knowledge (so-called teacher-centered classroom).
Students and faculty members as well should be encouraged to use the internet to get available data to support whatever ideas have come out during discussions and for the analyses of results out of the studies conducted. Akin to the higher level of knowledge and environmental ethics acquired by the students in the experimental group, particularly by the females more than the males, the possible factors mentioned by the authors are not enough to convince readers as to its reliability because the debate over gender differences in environmental concern is on-going and is sharply divided.
One set of theories expects women to be more environmentally concerned than men while another set expects the opposite to be true. Further, it is recommended that a study on the factors affecting environmental ethics infusion instruction on knowledge of undergraduate such as gender and age should be explored.