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Tabone, Chyrisse P.
A descriptive study of students' perspectives on controversial issues embedded in a college environmental science course
h [electronic resource] /
by Chyrisse P. Tabone.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
ABSTRACT: This qualitative study described non-science undergraduate majors' responses to controversial issues embedded in an introductory level environmental science course in a liberal arts college located in the southeastern United States. Participants enrolled in this 12-week summer course were both traditional college-age (late teens to early twenties) and non-traditional age student (thirties to fifties). Approximately 76 percent were female. Students demonstrated various lifestyles (e.g., gay, single-parent, living at home), socioeconomic statuses (e.g., middle-income, low income), employment (e.g., employed, unemployed, ex-military) and ethnicities. The structure of the environmental science course was consistent with the science education reform movement standards applied to K-12 public schools, but not yet pervasive in higher education. Some of the reform techniques included use of open discussion format, cooperative learning, field trips, classroom demonstration, and v arious media. The theoretical framework for the study was using controversial issues in science to stimulate cognitive dissonance, which may provide a pathway to higher level reflective thinking. Controversial issues triggering a response in students showed elements of injustice and unfairness. Examples included the CHEERS pesticide study on children in Jacksonville, Florida; human radiation experimentation, including the use of depleted uranium in military conflicts; and local groundwater cases that exhibited environmental racism. The study showed the use of controversial issues in the environmental science course stimulated reflective thinking and encouraged the expression of environmental advocacy beyond the classroom. Students expressed participation in energy and water conservation, recycling practices, political involvement, and joining environmental groups. Students shared information with outsiders, such as family, friends, and co-workers when they deemed it personally or^ societally relevant (e.g., pertaining to family, health, safety, homelife, politics). Generational differences in students were observed in their openness to discuss controversial issues, ability to self-express, attitude toward the environment, quality of writing, and involvement in the educational process.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2006.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
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Adviser: Barbara S. Spector, Ph.D.
Science education reform.
x Secondary Education
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 0 856
A Descriptive Study of Students Perspectives on Controversial Issues Embedded in a College Environmental Science Course by Chyrisse P. Tabone A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Secondary Education College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Barbara S. Spector, Ph.D. Elaine V. Howes, Ph.D. Valerie J. Janesick, Ph.D. Chrie L. Onkst, M.D., J.D., M.P.H. Date of Approval: November 1, 2006 Keywords: Science education reform, c ognitive dissonance, reflective thinking Copyright 2006, Chyrisse P. Tabone
Dedication I dedicate my dissertation, with love, to my mother, Vernetta J. Mullins and my grandparents, William H. and Rosalie Tabone.
Acknowledgments First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Barbara S. Spector, my major advisor and high priestess of science educati on. I am grateful for her creative ability to gaze outside of the box and o ffer sound guidance and true mentoring. I would like to thank Michael Lashbrook, General Education Department Chair, and FMU for providing free rein to design and instruct the environmental science course. I am grateful for t heir support and the opportunity to perform research with their group. I would like to express my gratitude to my doctoral committee: Drs. Elaine V. Howes, Valerie J. Janesick, and Cherie L. Onkst. Each offered a special quality and contribution to the success of my dissertation. I appreciate your support and constructive input. I would like to thank my best friend and environmental colleague, Sharon deLegal Bramlett, for her undying moral support throughout my years as a doctoral student. Sharon, I am finally going to graduate! Field Gorilla! Last but not least, I want to thank my sweetheart, John T. Russell, for all his love and encouragement.
i Table of Contents List of Tables iv List of Figures v Abstract vii Chapter OneThe Pr oblem Statement 1 Personal Background 1 Context of the Study 4 The Science and Social Connection 5 The Environmental Education Experience 6 Purpose of the Study 12 Research Question 12 Rationale for the Course Design 13 Rationale for the Study 16 Definition of Terms 17 Summary 22 Chapter TwoReview of Related Literature 23 Introduction 23 Problems with Current Undergr aduate Science Education 25 Using Controversial Issues in the Courses 39 Problems with Embedding Controversial Issues in Courses 35 Instructional Bias in Teaching 39 Environmental Education 42 Cognitive Dissonance 47 Reflective Thinking 52 Reflective Writing 59 Explicit Memory and Emotion 61 Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Students 63 Baby Boomers 65 Generation X 68 Millennials 70 Summary 73 Chapter ThreeMethods Used in the Study 75 Introduction 75
ii Phenomenological Framework 75 Description of Participants and Location of Study 77 Description of the Course and Activities 78 Grading Requirements 82 Reaction Papers 83 Inventory and Data Collection 83 Pilot Study 83 Data Collection 84 Data Analysis 85 Ensuring Quality and Credibility 87 The Role and Lens of the Researcher 88 Institutional Review Board 91 Ethical Considerations 92 Summary 92 Chapter FourPresentation of the Data 94 Introduction 94 Demographic Overview of Students 95 Responses to Controversial Issues in the Classroom 96 Cognitive Dissonance Responses 96 Students Responses to Issues of Justice 106 Students Emerging Skepticism and Reflective Thinking 111 Conservatism in the Classroom 119 Changing Attitudes about Environmental Science 123 Behavioral Changes and Activism 126 Students Sharing Outside of the Classroom 130 Personal Reactions to Me 131 Responses to Course Instructional Methods 132 Discussions 132 Classroom Activities 135 Generational Response to Environmental Course 136 Provoking Students Interest in Environmental Science 145 Personal Relevance to Students 149 Introduction to New Information 151 Summary 153 Chapter FiveDiscussion, Conclusion, Recommendation 156 Introduction 156 Students Responses to Controversial Issues 156 Cognitive Dissonance 156 Justice 159 Conservatism, Belief in Just World, and Cognitive Dissonance 160 Reflective Thinking 164 Attitudes and Behavioral Change 166 Provoking Students Interest in Environmental Science 167 Generational Responses to t he Environmental Course 170
iii Implications to Undergraduate Science Education 172 Recommendations for Further Research 175 Conclusion 177 References 179 Bibliography 190 Cited Lyrics 193 Appendices 194 Appendix A: Course Syllabus 195 Appendix B: Course Curriculum 198 Appendix C: Environmental Science Inventory 203 Appendix D: Doctoral Colleague Attestation 206 Appendix E: Adult Informed Consent Form 207 Appendix F: Frequency Tables and Pie Charts of Environmental 209 Science Inventory About the Author End Page
iv List of Tables Table 1 Demographic Snapshot of Students 209 Table 2 Voting Record and Future Intentions 209 Table 3 Prior Perception of Environmental Science Course 210 Table 4 Interest, Sharing, and Behavior at Eleven Weeks 211 Table 5 Teaching Method Preferences 212
v List of Figures Figure 1. Concept Map of Literature Review 24 Figure 2a. Use of controversial issues in class model showing 98 elements of a controversial issue Figure 2b. Use of controversial issues in class model showing 99 emotional pathways Figure 3. Provoking Interest in Environmental Science Courses 146 Figure 4a. Topics Students Recalled in Cold Writing Sessions 147 Figure 4b. Topics Students Recalled in Cold Writing Sessions 148 Figure 5 Gender 213 Figure 6 Age range 213 Figure 7 Years since studying science 214 Figure 8 Majors of study 214 Figure 9 Voted in 2004 election 215 Figure 10 Intended to vote in 2006 mid-term election 215 Figure 11 Students who knew environm ental science is political 216 Figure 12 Students who knew environment al science has controversial 216 issues Figure 13 Prior to enrollment Level of interest in the environment 217 Figure 14 After eleven weeks Level of interest in environmental 217 movement Figure 15 Prior to enrollment Reading and watching TV shows about 218 the environment
vi Figure 16 Sharing classroom experienc e with friends and/or family 218 Figure 17 Level of comfort felt during class discussions 219 Figure 18 Have your behavioral habits changed since taking the course? 219 Figure 19 Student preferred teaching methods 220
vii A Descriptive Study of Students Perspectives to Controversial Issues Embedded in a College Environmental Science Course Chyrisse P. Tabone ABSTRACT This qualitative study described non-sci ence undergraduate majors responses to controversial issues embedded in an introductory level environmental science course in a liberal arts college locat ed in the southeastern United States. Participants enrolled in this 12-week summer course were both traditional college-age (late teens to early twenties) and non-traditional age student (thirties to fifties). Approximately 76 percent were female. Students demonstrated various lifestyles (e.g., gay, single-parent, living at home), socioeconomic statuses (e.g., middle-income, low in come), employment (e.g., employed, unemployed, ex-military) and ethnicities. The structure of the environmental science course was consistent with the science education reform movement standards applied to K-12 public schools, but not yet pervasive in higher education. Some of the reform techniques included use of open discussion format, cooperative learning, field trips, classroom demonstration, and various media. The theoretical framework for the study was using controversial issues in science to stimulate cognitive dissonance, which may provide a pathway to higher level reflective thinking. Contro versial issues triggering a response in students showed elements of injustice and unfairness. Examples included the CHEERS pesticide study on children in Jacksonville, Florida; human radiation
viii experimentation, including the use of depl eted uranium in military conflicts; and local groundwater cases that exhibited environmental racism. The study showed the use of controversial issues in the environmental science course stimulated reflective thinking and encouraged the ex pression of environmental advocacy beyond the classroom. Students express ed participation in energy and water conservation, recycling practices, politic al involvement, and joining environmental groups. Students shared information with outsi ders, such as family, friends, and co-workers when they deemed it personally or societally relevant (e.g., pertaining to family, health, safety, homelife, politics). Generational differences in students were observed in their openness to discuss controversial issues, ability to selfexpress, attitude toward the environment, quality of writing, and involvement in the educational process.
1 Chapter OneThe Pr oblem Statement Personal Background I have always been intrigued by science. When I was a little girl I used to read through my set of Childcraft encyclopedias which featured arts and crafts and homegrown science experiments. I woul d often pick up gravel from the playground at my elementary school and look for fossils. I actually found a few limestone pebbles with leaf imprints, whic h I proudly kept in a jewelry box for many years. As a high school student, I passed the time by playing piano, guitar, and working on art. Writing poetry and short stories became my new love. When I began college with the intention of studying journalism, I discovered the perks of being Editor in Chief of the college newspaper. I could use the press pass to enter concerts and speak to bands. I could get free entry to plays to review the shows. Life was good. Somewhere along the path, I re-discovered the world of science and switched my major to environmental science. I have worked professionally in the industry for over 20 years. Having acquired a Masters degree in Science Education and now advancing my teaching methodology through my doctoral studies, self -reflection has prompted a lot of questions about science and society. I wondered how a person with a strong background in the humanities,
2 particularly music and the arts, could creat e a career in the sciences. What triggers a person, whether in academia or simply in his/her daily life, to spark an interest in science? With our lives surrounded by science issues in the news, how can one decipher what is factualism and what is bunk? Is science a separate entity from the rest of the world, or society, or simply a process for constructing an evidenced-based truth? The last few years in this country, science has been under attack by conservative America. The teaching of evolution in our public schools has been hotly debated and new pseudo-theories, su ch as Intelligent Design, have infiltrated our vocabulary. Global warming has been deemed as scientifically inconclusive by those in power in the United States (Armitage, 2005). Advancements in embryonic stem cell research have been stifled in this country due to moral implications (Petros, Grabowski, & Grunt, 2004). A woman in a vegetative state named Terry Schiavo was ar tificially kept alive for almost 12 years because medical technology allowed it. In 2005, a Romanian woman at age 67 gave birth to a baby daughter wit h the aid of fertility technology (Philipkowski, 2005). With our society dependent on scientific and technologic innovation, would it make sense to educate our student population in science, technology, and society? Since young adults will eventually be citizens participating in democracy, would it make sense to discuss the issues they will have to face? These reflective questions are the catalyst for my dissertation and have
3 prompted my continued probing into science reform methods to wake up America. Thus, the force that drives my dissertation study is both personal and professional. The study is grounded in who I am, as an individual with the beliefs and values of an environmentalist and social activist. I have integrated my professional life as a college instructor into my personal goals of promoting education, enlightenment, and altruism. This is my worldview as I approach this study. As a science education researcher, I use science education reform methods in the undergraduate environmental science course I teach. The results of the study have the potential to assist science educators in promoting science literacy in non-science majors and prov oke critical thinking at the college undergraduate level. Since my heart is in the humanities and my professional background is in the sciences, I combined both in my disse rtation writing. Richardson (2000) notes science is one lens and creative arts is another and we can see more deeply using both lenses. I have chosen a narrative writing style and first person voice to describe my findings, because through the introduction of personal st ories, narrative inquiry allows researchers to build larger fr ames of reference and examine underlying assumptions and beliefs that guide our actions. Narrative inquiry captures the human experi ence and is a method for exploring systemic change and the design of educational systems from the perspectives of the facilitator of the change process. (Gill, 2001) Richardson (2000) states self is always present, no matter how much we try to suppress it. People who write ar e always writing about their lives, even when they disguise this through the omniscient voice of science or scholarship
4 (Richardson, 2000, 2001). In addition, I have entwined a musical theme throughout this composition as a post-modern metaphorical instrument of expression. The song lyrics in the text are meant to be decorative and stylisti c, not interpreted literally. This practice reveals my perception of a need to soften the boundaries among disciplines and writing genres reflecting the way science, technology, and society are melded in real life. Context of the Study Since the 1950s, public opinion of science and technology has been one of fascination and mystique. After the onset of the nuclear age, pop culture presented science and technology as a counter point to nature. Science fiction aggrandized the horrid effects of science gone bad with movies such as The Fly and Them. The media sang the aria of the laments of science and space, when Buchanan and Goodman recorded the nov elty production Flying Saucer the 2nd. As a child, I used to play the 45 RPM record on my portable monaural record player, and lip-synch the words as follows: Buchanan: We interrupt this record to bring you a special bulletin. The reports of a flying saucer hovering over the city have been confirmed. The flying saucers are real! Radio: Too real, when I feel, what my heart can't conceal... (from the Platters' "The Great Pretender") Buchanan: That was the Clatters' recording, "Too Real!" As the Environmental Revolution unfolded in the 1960s, the human to
5 creature to environment connection em erged. Technology was emblazoned and held with esteem as Space Odyssey arose in the pop culture scene. The media began to play an apocalyptic melody with movies such as the Planet of the Apes series. The lyrics to 2525 (Exordium and Terminus) by Zager and Evans echo the fears of the time In the year 2525 If man is still alive If woman can survive They may find The Science and Social Connection. It was in the late 1980s when Science for All American s (1989) specifically stated science education reform promotes the concept of science as a human enterprise, an idea that postures science as a connection to social change, social conflict, and politics. Traditionally in undergraduate education, sci ence is not associated with issues studied in political science, sociology, histor y, and economics. In actuality, all of these disciplines have been territorially held close to the breast and their integration in science education curricula has been viewed by science instructors as watered down science. The social connection to science is the first step toward promoting scientific literacy, values, and attitudes. Science education can be used to foster three of these attitudes and valuescuriosity, openness to new ideas, and informed skepticism (AAAS, 1989). Sci ence, technology, and society education (STS) encourages discourse in science, assisting in communication of ideas through verbal discussions, graphical depictions, and illustrations (Pedretti,
6 1999). Science and technology are two sides of the same coin when interacting with society. One might expect the connection between STS, but in science education, this has not often been the case. Through scientific habits of mind, cr itical-response skills are boosted as students develop problem-solving skills that may be incorporated into their daily lives. Evidence, quantitative considerations, logical arguments, and uncertainty may be used as a rational path toward construction of new knowledge. Through scientific habits of mind education, students can be armed with the necessary tools to become independent thinking citizens who are capable of sifting through simple or complex real life problems. They may be able to galvanize themselves from falling prey to flim flam artists and purveyors of poppycock. The Environmental Education Experience. Environmental education provides a perfect backdrop for introduc ing STS and controversial environmental issues into curricula. For example, Gayford (2002) notes global climate change (GCC) as controversial in nature both from a scientific and political standpoint, raising a wide range of social, economic, cultural, and ethical issues. He continues stating the underlying tens ion regarding the nature and purpose of teaching controversial issues may provide an instrument for behavioral modification in students. He believes st udents may find it liberating to explore and develop their own values, attitudes, and behaviors associated with critical thinking. It may be very challenging for a student to contemplate and ruminate over issues that have relevance to not only science but also their daily lives. As
7 a democratic citizen, it is imperative fo r students to be familiar with issues that affect their country and global nations. In this erratic world today, citizens face the price of extreme and unpredictable w eather conditions, rising seas, and loss of ecosystems due to anthropogenic causes. We as educators need to arm students with the tools to comprehend the consequences of global warming. Typically, in environmental cour ses at the undergraduate level, controversial issues are not discussed. From my observations and experience taking environmental courses over the la st 25 years, topics such as global warming may be discussed, but strictly at the scientific level. The ethical, political, and sociological viewpoints are ov erlooked. The curricula are text-book driven and lectures are instructor-center ed. Open classroom discussions are normally held in graduate courses only because undergraduate environmental instructors appear intent on spoon-feeding sci entific facts to students for test taking purposes. Instructors do not act as facilitators to encourage extracurricular inquiry. A term paper, which students view as a means for earning a grade, may be assigned to offer an in-depth look at the subject of science. The whole educational process is very dry and uninspiring, and unlikely to be attractive to students who are not already committed to science as a major. Science education reform techniques, as recommended in Science for All Americans (1989), have the potential to entice more people to science and inspire science literacy.
8 My experience taking environmental science courses in higher education became the impetus for my dissertation study. It prompted the purpose of my study: describe the ways non-science majors in an undergraduate environmental science course respond to embedding controversial issues in the curriculum of a course consistent with the science reform movement. For the last year, I have been teachi ng an environmental science course which is required for all non-science majors enrolled in liberal arts programs. The undergraduate majors include the following: accounting, business management, medical billing, paralegal studies, computer s, and criminology. I designed a course with three aims: 1) embedding controversial issues within the curriculum, 2) using science education reform methods (e.g., cooperative learning, discussion, reflective writing, and informal science education), and 3) creating a class with relevant information to create scientific literate citi zens. I aim to teach the environmental science class in the format I always wis hed forand be the environmental science teacher I always wished I had. The environmental science course intr oduces the students to concepts of ecosystems, lake eutrophication, gl obal warming, sustainability of the environment, solid waste reduction and recycling, fossil fuel dependency and alternative fuels, public environmental health risks, consumerism, and hazardous waste generation. The college where I am employed requires use of a designated textbook Environmental Science toward a Sustainable Future, but gives me free reign to design the course as I see fit.
9 The first 45 minutes of class instruction is devoted to oral readings of newspaper clippings of current science news events and politics. After the readings, students are provided with an open forum for discussion of the introduced issues. I act as moderator and ask probing questions, attempting to keep the dialogue flowing. Emphasis is stressed on bioethical issues related to human experimentation, especially contro versial science practices used in the United States during the past 70 years. Current political controversial issues discussed in the course include the following: mining limestone in the Everglades, logging in national forests, dr illing for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, use of depleted uranium and whit e phosphorus weapons in Iraq, Gulf War Syndrome, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, pesticide testing on children in Jacksonville, the Teflon controversy, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The science content is delivered through Power Point presentations, traditional board lectures, short video presentations, in-class demonstrations, and interactive group activities. Throughout the lecture, students are encouraged to ask questions and discuss issues as topics emerge. The college where I teach does not utilize Blackboard or any equivalent website-based teaching forum. I email my students the Power Point presentations in advance, announcements, and links to interesting environmental articles. Communication via email is greatly encouraged. My goal is to create a classroom atmosphere that is warm, friendly, and
10 informal. I try to be approachable to the students and invite students to express themselves. I do demand raising hands and respect for all students involved in discussions. I frequently relay personal stories of my environmental field experiences and my personal life (i.e., acti vism) as the school quarter proceeds. To lighten up the science content in the lecture, I embed comical animal photos and cartoons to provide laughter and wake up the students. Feedback from the students denotes they get a kick out of this and pay attention to see when the photos will show up. Being supportive of informal education, one optional field trip to a local reclaimed water sewage treatment facilit y is offered to students on one Saturday morning each school quarter. Extra credit is received by students who attend the event. I encourage students to bring a friend, spouse, significant other, or a teenage son or daughter to share the experi ence. During a recent field trip, students brought fathers, children, and s pouses, to share the experience. The sharing connection in education is expressed in my philosophy Education is a family experience. During the 19th century, the school belonged to the community and the community belonged to the school (Tyack, 1974). Students have told me I always tell my husband about what we discuss in class or My teenage daughter would really love this class. I have encouraged and hosted family members to share the college experience with loved ones by sitting in class for the experience. When I was an undergraduate, my mother and I took a college class together for fun. I recently invited her to observe my
11 teaching for constructive criticism and feedback. For assessment purposes, I assign weekly homework questions either I create or are listed in the textbook. The answers are discussed during the following class session. Two term papers re lated to a current environmental or public health issues and one comprehensive exam create most of the course grade. In addition, students are required to write weekly reaction papers to provide an outlet for reflection and reaction to the issues discussed in each class session. Since controversial issues are openly discussed in class, students may want to vent or react on paper. St udents may hand in papers on a weekly basis (either in hand-written or email format) or at the end of the quarter in a bound diary. This provides the student with an outlet for self-reflection, expression of viewpoints, and individual student-teacher dialogue. From my experience, students in the course have viewed the reaction paper process as positive, articulating the need for discourse and expression without the fear of peer judgment. If the reflective process is expressed via emails, a dialogue often ensues between the student and me, creat ing a personal relationship. Special emphasis throughout the quarter of instruction is on real life issues and practical application of environm ental science. Examples of practical information include: 1) methods of hous ehold water conservation, 2) in-depth study of sinkholes (e.g., in-class demonstr ation model), 3) plastics recycling and coding system, and 4) survey of household hazardous wastes.
12 The concept of environmental political involvement and activism is introduced to the classroom. Also, real-life local ethical dilemmas (e.g., benzene contaminated well at a former Stuckeys) facing environmental professionals are presented through discussion of my personal experiences. Power Point presentations of my recent field ex cursions and personal case studies are embedded within science content to create a real-world experience. Purpose of the Study The dissertation study describes and explains the ways non-science majors in an undergraduate environmental science course respond to embedding controversial issues in the curriculum of a course consistent with the science reform movement directed at K-12 public schools. The science course is required for all liberal arts degrees offe red at a private college located in the southeastern United States. The class at the college is typically comprised of both traditional and non-traditional age student s studying for an associates or bachelors degree. Additional informati on concerning the study will be explained further in Chapter Three. Research Question The dissertation study addressed the following: How do the students respond to controversial issues embedded in the curriculum of an undergraduate environmental science course consistent with the science education reform movement?
13 Rationale for the Course Design Reviews of literature in the areas of history and political science have shown that embedding controversial issues in curricula improves reflective thinking skills, argumentation, and debat e (Werner, 1998). King and Kitcheners (2004) Reflective Judgment Model prov ides the theoretical framework for assessing reflective thinking in the study The theory will be further explained in Chapter Two. Documenting students responses to the use of controversial issues in curricula may provide insight for higher education to make courses consistent with current reform principles. A descrip tive study, particularly in environmental science, may shed insight into which topics strike chords with undergraduate students. Especially to those students who harbor values toward the topics discussed in class, exposure to these controversial issues provides a dissonance experience. Festingers Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957) provides the impetus for using controversial issues in the classroom. The theory will be further explained in Chapter Two. Overall, the dissertation study ma y benefit science education researchers by answering the research subquestions. The research subquestions emerged as data were collected: Which features of controversial issues triggered responses? Were there signs of attitudinal changes and positive environmental actions?
14 Were there any signs of skepticism and reflective thinking? Did generations react differently? Another rationale for the course design was found when examining the demographic make-up of undergraduate co lleges today. The line between traditional and non-traditional students is thinning as more students attend parttime, a high proportion of women are enr olling, and more students are over age 25 (Oblinger, 2003). Older students ar e arriving on campuses because many are returning to school to pursue mid-life career changes. Some students may be older due to combining part-time school and full-time work. Some women may return to college after their children have grown. My particular interest is in generational differences of students, sinc e college instructors need to reach out to all levels with teaching methodologies. Colleges and universities need to adjust instruction to accommodate the arrival of a new generation of students k nown as Millennials. The millennial students are those born betw een the early 1980s and the Millennium. Millennials are different from their predecessors t he Generation Xers and Baby Boomers because they were raised with technology, computers, and the Internet. The educational emphasis on standardized test ing, as touted in No Child Left Behind, has resulted in rote memorization and de-emphasized critical thinking skills. Content material, and even traditional courses which create a wellrounded education, are eliminated to make time for standardized test preparation for English and math. Florida, along with Texas, North Carolina, and
15 a growing number of states are consider ed a leader in the high-stakes testing movement (Myers & Curtiss, 2003). By the time secondary students enter college, he or she may not have developed reflective thinking patterns. In addition, stressing testing has robbed students of the notion that education prepares students for democratic citiz enship, the essence of John Deweys (1933) educational philosophy. It is likely, too, the Millennials have had minimal experience with integrated science courses rooted with controversial issues (e.g., drilling in the Arctic and Gulf of Mexico, Plan B pill, medical marijuana, and embryonic stem cell research) as a foundat ion. Exposure to these issues may be the first step toward scientific literacy. Traditional science education methods do not encourage students to pursue careers in science and technology. Similar to the late 1950s when the Soviet Union shocked the nation by launching Sputnik, the United St ates is entering another science education crisis. T he United States, the once dominant superpower on the planet, has dwindled in the area of science and technology and is competing with Asia. China, which was once a nation dominated with bicycles for transportation, is now producing more scientists and engineers than any nation. China, India, and other count ries are more explicitly strategic in creating competence and innovation cent ers ("Collaborative Advantage," 2006). China, South Korea, and Japan, have a di fferent ethical and moral take on what it means to be human than the Judeo-Chri stian and Western traditions do (Selko, Spoor, & Bailery, 2006). For this reason, these countries are actively
16 participating in cutting-edge technology in regard to embryonic stem cell research, a technology which can not only assist in curing debilitating diseases but extend life longevity, intelligence, and ph ysical abilities. As the United States once enjoyed global dominance and provided a range of cutting-edge technologies, foreign-born scientists, some whom were educated in American institutions, are paving the way for the future. Rationale for the Study Science education reform has shown repeated cycles throughout its history. After the United States suffe red a Sputnik realization on October 4, 1957, the science reform movement cresc endoed to a flurry of activity to overhaul the K-12 public school system. The National Science Foundation poured money into science curricula development and the country appeared to be on its merry way to scientific domination. In the 1970s, the science reform movement decrescendoed, but was later revived in the 1980s after a Nation at Risk (NCEE, 1983) denounced the condition of the American public school systems. Congress reacted by promot ing Science Education Standards (SES) in the K-12 public school system, later to have its work sabotaged in the Millennium with the Bush administrations No Child Left Behind act. The act promotes standardized testing. Sc hool personnel are focusing on creating competent test-takers, but not thinkers Rote memorization and the absence of critical thinking are the norm as teaching emphasis is placed on knowing the
17 correct answer. Students are encouraged to memorize science content for large scale testing purposes without making connections to real world situations. Although through the years there have been waves of science education reform in the K-12 public school system, it has yet to become pervasive in higher education. There appears to be a paucity of science education research studies examining the implementation of scienc e education reform in the undergraduate science classroom. Even less common, ar e studies showing the effects of teaching controversial issues in the undergraduate science classroom. For this reason, my dissertation will contribute much needed research. Definition of Terms The definition of terms and phrases used for the purpose of the study are presented as follows: Baby BoomersBaby Boomers (Boomers) are those born between the years 1943 and 1963. According to Howe and Strauss (1991), the Boomers are idealists and their awakening arose in rising adulthood stage. There are approximately 79 million Boomers in the United States. Influences in their early adulthood include advances in science, the sexual revolution, Vietnam War, har d rock, a rise in accidental death rates, and increased college educati on. As the Boomers aged, they sought comfort in New Age and evangelical sects, with many turning toward conservatism and moral policing. On the other hand, there are still Boomers who have not shed their ideological stripes and beckon
18 social activism for environmental c auses, animal rights, gay rights, and anti-war movements. Belief in Just World TheoryBelief in Just World (BJW) is a theory that people have a cognitive and motivational need to believe they live in a just world (Dittmar & Dickinson, 1993; Lerner, 1965). Rooted in Cognitive Dissonance (Festinger, 1957; Furnham, 1993, 2003), Marvin Lerners BJW theory is applied in the field of social psychology and criminal justice. Lerner believes BJW is universal and may be attributed to social institutions, such as the Protestant Work Ethic. Those with a high belief in BJW are generally politically conservative, viewing underprivileged groups of people as responsib le for their situation (Dittmar & Dickinson, 1993; Furnham, 1993, 2003). Cognitive dissonanceCognitive Dissonance is a psychosocial theory describing the feeling of conflict in one's belief system when values are challenged, resulting in tension that must be eliminated (Festinger, 1957). People going through cognitive dissonance will find some rationale for whatever is causing the conflict, or may choose to ignore the event in question altogether. Festinger believed that people want balance in their lives and consonance was a way to bring back a lost sense of balance. Cognitive dissonance occurs in situations when new information becomes known to a person, creating at l east a momentary dissonance with the existing knowledge, opinion, or cognition concerning behavior (Festinger,
19 1957; Misiti & Shrigley, 1994). Dissonance may arise from a logical inconsistency, cultural mores, a spec ific opinion, or past experiences. Environmental science class inventoryAn Environmental Science Class Inventory is a survey-like snapshot of the population, thus, assisting in data crystallization for providing trustworthiness (Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Richardson, 2000). The inventory describes demographics, attitudes and beliefs of the non-science majors enrolled in the study. Explicit memoryExplicit memory is the controlled or conscious memory a person utilizes to involve vivid recollect ions of specific items as part of previously presented educational material (Brainerd, Stein, & Reyna, 1998). Psychological evidence shows emotion positively influences episodic memory function (Dolan, 2002). This may yield support to the use of controversial issues in the classroom. GenerationA generational cohort-group is a phase of life in terms of social roles. Generations are regar ded as 22-year phases, as follows: Rising Adulthood (age 22), Mid life (age 44), and Elderhood (age 66). Rising adulthood is a time of activity (working, starting families and careers, serving institutions, and test ing values). Midlife is a time for leadership (parenting, teaching, direct ing institutions, using values). Elderhood is a time for stewardship (supervising, mentoring, channeling endowments, and passing on values) (Strauss & Howe, 1991).
20 Generation XersGeneration Xers are those born between the years 1964 and 1980. According to Howe and Strauss (1991), the Generation Xers are reactive and their awakening arose in youth. There are approximately 93 million Gener ation Xers in the United States. Influences in their early adulthood include extended families due to divorce, working mothers creating latchkey kids, and a decline in college education completion. This generation, who saw their workaholic parents rewarded with downsizing and mergers, are often called cynical and slacker (Jurkiewicz, 2000). There seems to be minimal available information concerning the aging Generation Xer but Jurkiewicz (2000) notes that Generation Xers are perceived as havi ng a poor work ethic, committed to self rather than an employer, and val ue individualism over collectivism. In addition, this generation grew up wit h little financial or family stability and no real solid traditions. JusticeJustice is moral rightness, equity, fairness or conformity with what is right or legal ("The Am erican Heritage Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary," 1988). MillennialsMillennials are those bor n between the years 1981 and the present. According to Howe and Strauss (1991), the Millennials are civic and their awakening period is not yet known. There are approximately 76 million Millennials in the United States and growing since fertility drugs in the 1980s helped create this special generation. Influences of the
21 Millennials include pressure to achiev e, computers, Internet, sheltered upbringing, and the return of conv ention (Howe & Strauss, 2000). Reflective thinkingReflective thinking is active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends. (Dewey, 1933, p. 6) The concept, first introduced by John Dewey in the 1920s, was later drawn upon by Patricia King and Karen Kitchener in the 1980s as Reflective Judgment Model (Kitchener, Lynch, Fischer, & Wood, 1993) The Reflective Judgment Model describing three phases of reflective thinking: 1) pre-reflective thinking, 2) quasi-reflective thinking, and 3) reflective thinking. Each level relates to a path of intellectual independence toward critical thinking. Scientific Habits of mindScientific habits of mind are the attitudes, skills, and methods of thinking that are essential to science literacy (AAAS, 1989). Project 2061's 1989 publication Science for All Americans Science for All (1989) report states scientific habits of mind can help people in every walk of life to deal sensibly with problems that often involve evidence, quantitative cons iderations, logical arguments, and uncertainty; without the ability to thin k critically and independently, citizens are easy prey to dogmatists, flimflam artists, and purveyors of simple solutions to complex problems.
22 TruthTruth is generated at the level of the individual (McGettigan, 2000). According to McGettigan (2000), truth does exist and can be produced by anyone, not just scientists, who actively overcome the influences of social power that limit the boundar ies of understanding. Summary Undergraduate college instruct ors may be qualified to teach environmental science or other disciplines, but they may not be instilling science literacy and reflective thinking sk ills through their current instructional methods. The science education reform techniques described for K-12 public schools have not been pervasively used in higher education. Ella Fitzgerald may not have been speaking of undergraduate science reform methods but she addresses the issue when singing, T aint what you bring, its the way that you bring it T aint what you swing its the way that you swing it, T aint what you sing, its the way that you sing it, Thats what gets results. (Taint what you bring) My intent was to study the effects of embedding controversial issues in an undergraduate environmental science course for non-science majors. The format of the environmental course reflected the science education reform standards applied to K-12 public schools. I described the students responses to the applied science reform methods and dissonance techniques.
23 Chapter TwoReview of Related Literature Introduction The literature informs the reader of the history of t he science education reform movement, which has had twists and turns from its first note sung to its latest reform stanza of the 1980s. Environmental education, t he focus of my literature review, is one of science education reforms operatic attempts to scale the bar and bridge the gap between science, technology, and society. By implementing science reform tec hniques in undergraduate science courses, such as introducing controversia l issues into the curriculum, cognitive dissonance may be stimulated. Emotion may in spire. Reflective or higher level thinking, as promoted in the science reform movement, may grab hold. Our university systems now serve a polyrhythmi c mix of diverse cu ltures, genders, and ages of students. A stanza of learning and reflection of a Science for All may be achieved for both traditionally-aged and non-traditionally aged students. To understand the interplay of science educ ation reform, using controversial issues in the classroom, and the effect s of their use, a concept map has been prepared for the literature review. The c oncept map may assist the reader by outlining the researched topics in an organi zed graphical display. Please see Figure 1, Concept Map of Literature Review. So, let the music begin
24 Figure 1. Concept Map of Literature Review
25 Problems with Undergraduate Science Education Since state public school systems have mandated science education reform, the emphasis of most recent wa ve (the last 25 years) has been toward K12 schools. In the United States, the national reform movement may be described in National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996a), Benchmarks for Science Literacy, Project 2061 ( AAAS, 1993) and No Child Left Behind (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). W hat has been missing from the reform process is broadening the effort to include the university level courses (Wright, Sunal & Day, 2004). Undergraduate in troductory science courses are of particular importance since they may pr ovide stepping stones to either higher level science courses or may be the sole course taken by a non-science major. These courses may serve as weed out courses, which may turn off students from entering the fields of science and technology In addition, these courses may not provide the necessary tools to prepare an undergraduate science student to act as a science literate citizen. Certain elements are responsible for driving students out of introductory science courses as follows: lack of relevance, relegation of students to passivity, emphasis on competition, and a focus on algorithmic problem solving (Tobias, 1990; Wright, Sunal & Day, 2004). A National Science Foundation report, Shaping the Future (NSF, 1996), reported that scientists needed to make undergraduate science courses more meaningful for both science and nonscience majors.
26 The Society of College Science Teachers (SCST) examined the problems of introductory science curricula and formulated recommendations to improve courses (McCormick, 2004). Their posit ion paper stated these science courses lay the groundwork for major recruitment. In addition, this is where preservice teachers either learn to love or hate science. The SCST recommended including research-based formats to promote crit ical thinking, problem solving, and collaborative work in undergraduate science courses. Inquiry-based science classes may benefit non-science majors by enabling empowerment, thus, lessening the science-fear anxiety (Waggoner, Schaffner, Keller, & McArthur, 2004). Most students in non-major courses will not continue to take additional science coursework, but an attitude toward science may be created or destroyed in an introductory course. Since most nonscience majors are required to enroll in only one science course, this may be their only opportunity to obtain the inquiry or process skills necessary for science literacy. Student science journals may be their only opportunity to receive feedback on their inquiry methods, as one student stated, I plan on keeping my lab journal to use in other science cla ssesThis class has prepared me to think more scientifically and critically (Waggoner et al., 2004). In August 1997, the Oregon Collaborative for Excellence in the Preparation of Teachers (OCEPT) was f unded for five years as part of the Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation (CETP) program of the NSF (Wainwright, Morrell, Flick, & Schepige, 2004). The program aimed to determine
27 if the elements of reform teaching were being used by college faculty members teaching undergraduate science and mathemat ics courses. Participating instructors attended summer institutes utilizing reform-based practices which fostered reflection on current issues in science, mathematics, and technological literacy for K-16 teaching. Wainwright et. al. (2004) conducted observational sessions and interviews with the teachers, concluding that some reform teaching strategies were being implemented at the college level. When compared to the mathematics classes, science classes frequently exhibited in terdisciplinary connections, pedagogical content knowledge and multiple represent ations of concepts. The science lecture classes (the primary mode of instruction observed) had the lowest frequencies of student discourse and coll aboration (unlike the mathematics classes which used small groups). The size of the science classes did not determine if reform teaching strategies were being implemented. For example, the class with 250 students showed frequent use of reform strategies as compared to the classes with 20 student s or less. Since classes are predominantly lectures, the researchers suggested that teachers offer discussion-oriented formats which lend to student-student interaction and emphasis on student input. Waggoner et al. (2004) discuss that introductory geology courses are normally lecture format with cookbook or verification laboratories. From personal experience in taking graduate level geology courses at state universities in
28 Florida, I would venture to say this stale approach extends into advanced courses too. Waggoner et al. (2004) be lieve the traditional geology courses are not conducive to fostering long-term retent ion, critical-thinking skills, problem solving, and developing the inquiry nature of the discipline. The researchers constructed a geology course using a science reform approach fostering both informal and formal cooperative learning strategies. The use of active learning with cooperative teams benef its undergraduate students achievement through gained confidence in defining and solving problems (Goldston & Clement, 2004; Pinet, 1995). MacDonald and Korinek (1995) discovered that incorporating cooperative writing activities enhanced student geology content, reduced student isolation, and fostered communication skills. In a sense, the social interaction provided the experience of articulati ng scientific reasoning in both oral and written formats. Since Project 2061 advocates scientific literacy for all students, the MacDonald and Korinek (1995) found their approach to be conducive to scientific inquiry and extended problem-solving. Encouraging activities that bridge the science subdisciplines and focus on critical issues relevant to all discip lines, faculty at the University of Idaho developed an Integrated Science course for non-science majors and preservice teachers (Graves, Odell, Ewers, & Ophus 2004). The college course is aligned with the science standards for the state of Idaho and NSTAs College Pathways to the Science Education Standards For the entire semester, the course centers on a studying local watershed, Paradise Creek, and reinforces the scientific
29 experience with weekly field activities. The in-class activities include open discussions so students can explore the hum an-environment interactions. At the end of the semester, student groups pres ented a poster session or Power Point presentation of their watershed study. The presentations included graphs and surveys of local flora and fauna. The University of Idaho Integrated Science course serves as an example of environmental science at work. In recent years, universities offer both Environmental Science and Environmental Studies degree programs. There is a distinction between the two because the science programs require traditional science coursework in chemistry, biology, and geology. The studies program consists of coursework focusing on the philosophy of environmentalism, ethics, and policy. Using Controversial Issues in Courses It was not until graduate school that I first experienced a discussion format course. Most of the specialty courses we re directly related to my major study and were not the lecture hall required courses. It felt empowering to offer an opinion and hear those of my fellow students, because for the first time we were considered living, breathing adults with a voice. Any questions we may have had concerning an issue or topic were immedi ately addressed by either the professor or classmate. It appears at the graduat e level, students are considered to be mature and prepared to discuss any type of topic, whether mundane or controversial in nature.
30 Conversational learning enables students to create new understandings and transform their varied experiences into resources for change and learning (Baker, 2004). According to Baker, J ensen, & Kolb (2002), the theoretical foundation of conversational learning rests on the premise that learning and increased understanding can be achieved through the interplay of opposites and contradictions. Students engaged in discussions can push the boundaries of conversations, allowing exploration of oppos ing ideas from various participants. The researchers believe that educational and organizational settings should allow people with differing ideas and experiences a voice creating substantive content for conversational learning (Baker, 2004). The use of hotly debated topics in t he classroom is not novel, but the central feature of school-based democrati c education. According to Hess (2004), the U.S. Bureau of Education issued a bulletin in 1916 entitled Problems of Democracy, encouraging the emphasis of c ontemporary political issues in the classroom. She continues citing evidenc e that discussions of controversial issues promotes democratic thinking, development of tolerant attitudes, and appears to influence political engagement (H ess, 2004; Hodson, 1999; Jickling, 2003; Payne & Gainey, 2003). Discussion of controversial issues may be procured in a history or political sci ence class, but rarely do students discuss heady topics in a science class! A vibrant democracy depends on this participation, which is the very ex pression of discomfort and controversy (Jickling, 2003).
31 My mother, who was proper and etiquette-minded, warned not to discuss money, politics and religion in polite company. I was never told exactly where one could discuss such forbidden subjects or with whom. Is discussing politics or religion in a science class permissible or ruled out? According to Evans et al (1999), topics which are taboo or forbidden from discussion due to sensitivity exert control on our everyday lives. This may extend into our schools, reinforcing the off limits perception of taboos. Taboos determine culturally what is acceptable and unacceptable; from an anthropological perspective, they serve as an insulator of perceived harm, whether rational or irrational (Evans, Avery, & P ederson, 1999). With a multicultural society sharing differing religious or cultural be liefs, moral issues embedded within science are hotbeds for flaring emotions. According to Evans, Avery & Pederson (1999), A system of taboos imposes severe disabilities on teaching and thinking in [science] classrooms, whereas, loosening or breaking taboos has the potential for freeing the human mind and helping to make teaching and learning science stimulating and exciting. (p. 219) Oulton (2004) points that teaching controversial issues in science needs to take explicit account of their nature, em phasizing the following: 1) groups within society hold differing viewpoints based on different sets of information and interpretation and 2) differing worldviews can occur because the individuals adhere to different value systems. Varying attit udes and value judgments of society are the roots determining if a topic is controversial or approachable for discussion. Oulton argues that controversial issues cannot a lways be resolved by recourse to reason,
32 logic or experiment and issues may only be resolved as new information becomes available. This formula for reason is directly in line with the NSESs philosophy concerning the nature of science. Oulton ci tes an example of a controversy in his native United Kingdom by referring to the slaughtering of cattle, sheep, and other farm animals after the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in 2001. This complicated issue concerned government poli cy, the science of viral and bacterial infections in animals, the economics of beef industry, and the moral grounds of animal extermination. Different viewpoi nts arose among the groups involved, creating highly publicized accusations and emotionally charged debates. Controversial issues, such as FMD, are o ften rooted in science c oncepts. Scientific developments or scientific endeavors in reso lving problems are often intrinsically linked to social, political and economic concerns. The experimental nature of science and uncertainties that arise may cr eate a lack of trust in scientists due conflicting information and misrepresentations expressed in the media (Oulton, Dillon, & Grace, 2004). Cross and Price (1996) ar e concerned about teachers who present science as unproblematic and characterized as reflec tions of certainty. They believe a realistic portrayal of scient ists and scientific endeavors is essential to show the complexities of the nature of science. Oft en in controversial issues, moral dilemmas arise, similar to situations a student may encounter after leaving school. These dilemmas test a students personal standar ds of character and conduct concerning right and wrong behavior. For this reas on, schools may aid students in handling
33 questions of value, prompting judgments, and encouraging students to take responsibility for their own lives (Cross & Price, 1996). St udents need to be armed with the tools to judge particular claims made and the agenda behind each, developing their own position based on the facts presented. Asking questions and doubting sources of information creates heal thy skepticism, which is a desirable quality in the world of science. Van Rooy (2000) discusses her resear ch on incorporating controversial issues into an A-level (high school) biol ogy course. Her goal for the class was that students would become conversant with personal, ethical, and social aspects of science/biology. Before using the moral dilemma of human organ transplantation, the students had comple ted a unit on human physiology, the circulatory system, and were beginning to work on the renal system. The students were given discussion questions that exercised science content knowledge (e.g., What medical technologi es are used with transplantation? Do you know how they work?), but later ev olved into moral dilemmas (e.g., Do you think the parents made an informed and sensible decision? Why?). Van Rooy created another dilemma regarding artificial maintenance of life, the definition of life and death, and organ donor and transplantat ion. The discussions delved into the comparison of physical characteristics (e.g., heartbeat, cognition, consciousness) versus moral and religious i ssues (e.g., loss of soul, sanctity of life). The interlacing of science with so cietal issues became apparent as the lessons showed the connective relevanc e between economic, cultural, ethical,
34 and other non-scientific issues. Van Rooy felt the medical and ethical issues discussed in class raised the interest level in science and provided the students with an opportunity to show their underst anding of biological systems beyond the boundaries of the syllabus (Van Rooy, 2000). Learning how to talk constructively about controversial issues makes it easier to bring deeply embedded assumptions to the surface, some times to explore them for the first time (Baker, 2004). Consequently, the instructor in Van Rooys study used the controversial issues in the biology class as bolt-on extr as. The central issue for this teacher was his belief that very little substantial biological knowledge could be learned by students if controversial issues were used as a significant teaching strategy (Van Rooy, 2000). The teacher believed meaningful discussions in biology were not possible unless students were familiar with the subject matter first. Teachers sometimes resist teaching controversial issues in the classroom due to ingrained beliefs about what should be taught and the nature of biology. They may feel many of the controversial issues are taboo topics in the classroom, fearing uncomfortable discussing the topics. They may not want to deviate from the syllabus or textbook, risking opening a can of worms or receiving poor student evaluations at the end of the term. Since many controversial issues have a basis in science, familiarity with the science content is essential for argumentation and debate. Students, who have a working knowledge of technica l vocabulary and theoretical concepts
35 supporting a science or technology, develop a mature understanding, thus, promoting higher reflective reasoning. T hey realize issues are multi-faceted and factual information needs to be considered, as well as social and ethical implications. Students need to see t here are occasions when no answer is correct or incorrect. Science, technology, and society are often colored in shades of grey. A comfort level may elevate if students believe science is in a state of flux, altering as new evidence arises. Problems with Embedding Controversial Issues in Courses Like Muddy Waters and bluesman often bellowed, Theres trouble in mind.but the suns gonna shine in my back door one day. Discussing controversial topics in the classroom may enervate most instructors, hence, many teach with the same moribund methods year after year. Many stay in their own comfort zone which is a disservice to aspiring students who may migrate to other disciplines due to unimaginative teaching. Incorporation of controversial topics in the classroom, particularly those related to STS, is not without challenges. Some teachers may feel time constraints regarding incorpor ation of controversial issues into their formulated safe curriculum. This simply enc ourages the continuation of the same unreflective beliefs and prejudices (Werner, 1998). Instructors may have difficulties structuring the concepts involv ed into a coherent learning experience without destroying the established sequenci ng of science topics (Gayford, 2002). They may feel a loss of control and may lack the teaching skills more commonly
36 associated with the humanities and the arts (Hodson, 2003). Balancing the arguments of controversia l issue in science may be difficult for teachers who are particularly opinionated on topics, such as oil drilling in the Arctic, depleted uranium in artillery, or t he effects of global warming. A lack of commitment, energy, and availability of resources (e.g., videos, articles, speakers) may discourage science instructor s from incorporating controversial issues into the lessons. Teachers, who act as facilitators, may have difficulty making judgments about the content, particu larly the non-scientific aspects that are important in helping students understand the nature of the issues involved (Gayford, 2002). Some students may lack the experience of critical discussion and feel illinformed, or perhaps not interested in the political on-goings in the United States. Others may not have experienced the opportunity to voice their opinions in a public forum, and feel self-conscious of classmates opinions. Few unbiased opinions and analytical discussions ar e presented in mainstream media concerning STS, particularly in the area of bioethics. Jickling (2003), an environmental educator, asks How can an educational env ironment be created where students can be introduced to ideas outside of the mainstream political spectrum? Without a di alogue of issues outside of the safe zone purported by the educational school system, how can students have the practical tools to move beyond the alleged standards? If in the realm of environmental education, students do not discuss the methods of Greenpeace or Environmental Liberation Front, how can student s consider the philosophical underpinnings of radical groups? (p.22)
37 Jickling (2003) argues that it ma y be easier to reduce environmental education to sanitized discussions by avoi ding controversial issues and sticking to superficial topics. But, are you being fair to the students by offering a diluted curriculum? If science education is truly a value-laden entity, should we as educators intentionally stifle the mora l issues embedded within the curriculum? Although education historically has promoted democracy and citizenship, the institution is author itative and does not encourage freedom of expression, discussion of controversial issues, and tolerance of opposing ideas. It is possible that this attitude stems from the hegemony of the institution, with the attitude that Students should be seen and not heard or Shut up, listen, and take notes. For this reason, some instructors may be reluctant to broach controversial issues in science. Class sessions may require additional lecture preparation and effort with the risk of retributions. Although in higher education an instructor does not normally have to worry about hovering parents, a disgruntled student may file a complaint. The last few years in academia have been trying for professors who teach in the areas of liberal arts, particularly history and political science (Byrne, 2004; Hess, 2004). Academic freedom, which has been interpreted in judicial opinions as a constitutional right, is under attack. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) stated in its 1915 General Declaration of Principles that the role of professors is as a scholar seeking truth to the light of scholarly disciplines, a teacher of nearly mature student s, and an independent expert offering
38 guidance to the public (Byrne, 2004). The declaration promoted freedom to faculty in research, publication, and teachi ng. Since the onset of the millennium, David Horowitz, a crusader on the political right, introduced his Academic Bill of Rights to legislators in Colorado and Florida. Horowitz believes that the AAUP has recognized students rights since its inc eption but most campuses have rarely given them the attention or support they deserve (Horowitz, 2004). He believes that radical left wing professors ar e indoctrinating students and may punish students with conservative view points (Fish, 2004). Byrne (2004) discusses Vega v. Miller a case which involved a First Amendment challenge by an untenured professor to his dismissal for professional incompetence, by quot ing a dissenting appeal Judge Cabranes: Today the loser is a college teacher in a conservative academic setting who used an alternative teaching technique with a profane effect. In the future, the major lo sers are likely to be traditionalists and unconventional college teachers, whose method or speech is found offensive by those who usually dominate our institutions of higher education. The First Amendm ent, with its special concern for academic freedommust protect all college teachers, especially the performance of their most important dutyteaching in the classroom. (p.81) In Spring 2005, I followed the Academic Bill HB 837 introduced into the Florida legislation by Dennis Baxley (R ) with focused interest and white-knuckle fear. Much to my relief, the bill died on May 6, 2005. This bill personally threatened my academic interest in using controversial issues in the classroom purposely The bill appeared to target liberal arts, but STS could fall into that category because it is an integration of science, technology, and social sciences.
39 An excerpt from Section 2, Section 1004. 09(3), Florida Statues, is presented as follows: Students have a right to expect that their academic freedom and the quality of their education will not be infringed upon by instructors who persistently introduce controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to the subject of study and serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose. As any section in a proposed bill, this could have a broad range of interpretations. To be on the safe side, I preface the introduction of controversial topics into the class session by stating it s relevance to the class material. For example, the discussion of the Unit ed States bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a bioethical issue with relev ance to the topic of radiation in the environment. In an ironic twist, in graduate school I was subjected to pretending to be a Bill Clinton/Al Gore-hating student to stay on the good side of my major professor. I felt compelled to spit Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck quotations so my cover would not be blown. During these years, I did feel uncomfortable hearing the jabs that threatened my Democr atic core, but I never felt victimized or driven to sue the professor and institut ion. In the university environment, we are adults and have the freedom to create our own opinions. Instructional Bias in Teaching If an instructor discusses the lim estone quarrying in the Florida everglades or the drilling for natural gas three miles o ff the coast of Florida, does this show bias? How can one teach environmental science in a college classroom without
40 discussing the relaxation and lack of enfor cement of environmental regulations since the year 2000? Critics of the use of controversial issues in the classroom or the encouragement of advocacy in environmental education say the educational system is indoctrinating students toward certain opinions, causing bias (Werner, 1998). Bias is inherently in the curriculum by the simple choice of textbooks. Textbooks are normally written in favor of a particular interest group that benefits most from the way society is current ly organized (Werner, 1998). Textbooks tend to favor the dominant culture and soci al, economic and political status quo. Instructors play a critical role in t he promotion of controversial issues in the classroom because they serve both prom oter and filter of information in the classroom. Traditionally, teachers have embraced objectivity and neutrality, often omitting personal opinions to minimize influence. Oulton et al (2004) notes the use of some procedural neutrality was difficult for most teachers to sustain and threatened the rapport that had been built with the class. Payne and Gainey (2003) note an instructors self-exposur e can be a tool used to break down anonymity of course material and the classroom setting. Additionally, they express that general comments about the teachers experiences with an issue can enhance critical thinking. According to Hess (2004), perception of indoctrination through use of controversial issues in the classroom typically occurs in two different ways, including the viewpoint of the teacher (or teaching material) or the actual topical issue per se
41 creates simple discussion as indoctrination. However, one persons indoctrination might be anothers desire to pr esent a vision of the trut h (Oulton, Day, Dillon, & Grace, 2004). Instructors may teach student s how to deal with controversial issues and adopt strategies for students to recogni ze bias, how to evaluate evidence, observe alternative interpretations and viewpoint. Sometimes an instructor influences students by not choosing topics for discussion. The absence of covering issues in a science class speaks volumes. In the 1970s, I took an earth science course in high school that completely dismissed the topic of evolution. The sci ence teacher did not discuss it at all and I remember asking him, Arent we going to talk about evolution in this class? He replied, It is not appropriate to discu ss in class. Even in high school, I knew this was wrong and figured I would have to read about evolution on my own. Actually, a large portion of my high school education was acquired through extracurricular reading. Elliot Eisner (1994) describes the three curricula that schools pursuethe existing, implicit curricula, and null curricula. He states: there is something of a paradox involv ed in writing about a curriculum that does not exist. Yet, if we are concerned with the consequences of school programs and the role of curriculum in shaping those consequences, then it seems to me that we are well advis ed to consider not only the explicit and implicit curricula of schools but also what schools do not teach. It is my thesis that what schools do not t each may be as important as what they do teach. I argue this position because ignorance is not simply a neutral void; it has important effects on the kinds of options one is able to consider, the alternatives that one can examine, and the perspectives from which one can view a situat ion or problems (Eisner, 1994). By omitting a topic or issue that is obv iously connected (i.e., teaching cell theory
42 and not discussing cloning) to science c ontent, the students are being dumbeddown and shielded from developing compelli ng arguments related to the issues. To shield a student from controversy is to shield him [or her] from the essential material of the analytical imagination, and to render him [her] incapable of rational independence, logical argument, or spiritual integrity, for none of these things can be achieved without fighting some terri ble demons. (Werner, 1998, P. 117) Environmental Education Irving Berlin had no idea when he wrote Heat Wave that global warming would be an intense and fiery topic of debate in the political realm. The United States, reneged on its obligation to the Kyoto Protocol in 2000 based on inconclusive scientific evidence wh ile approximately 2,000 world-renowned scientists reported that global warming is real and needs to be faced. It is the most requested topic for discussion upon arrival of new students to my environmental science course because of news reports, documentaries, and television special events centering on global warming, According to one survey, more than 60 percent of undergraduate programs in environmental studies and/or sciences and almost 50 percent of the graduate programs start ed within the last 10 years (McGowan, 2004). McGowan (2004) continues citing a 2003 analysis which showed more than 1,000 environmental programs in existence at univers ities. Many of these are relatively small but do include membership in t he Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD), an organization founded in 2001 that is dedicated to improving environmental education in U.S. colleges and universities.
43 McGowan (2004) believes environmental education has long been viewed as a means to reform science education. He states that environmental science is a way for non-science majors to boost thei r interest in science, get students out of the classroom, and demonstrate the lin ks of science to politics, ethics, and social policy. I consider it to be the ulti mate device for displaying the attributes of STS! In fact, Hodson (2003) believes the conception of STS should be broadened to include environmental education (STS becomes STSE). He states the definition of scientific literacy should include a degree of political literacy. The content of environmental scienc e programs, which require core science courses, and environmental st udies programs, which focus on philosophy, vary amongst institutions. Some environmental programs focus on local issues of the region (e.g., logging or salmon fishing in Pacific Northwest, overdevelopment and beach erosion in the Southeast). Others cover environmental science from a global per spective. CEDD-affiliated programs teach environmental science and issues combine both natural and social sciences (McGowan, 2004). Hornig (1996) points that although undergraduate liberal arts colleges agree that environm ental education should cross disciplines, promote problem solving, and holistic th inking, there is not enough concurrence on specific curricular components. He continues citing that some faculties have steadfastly refused to accept the environment as a suitable field of concentration. McDonnell (2001) believes the long-te rm goal of environmental education
44 is to develop citizens that make choices and take actions based on an internalized stewardship ethic. He notes the research design of stewardship programs may be difficult to conduct due to the necessity for variable manipulation (e.g., teacher training, curri culum materials, field experiences). Hodson (2003) points t hat the authors of S cience for All Americans (AAAS, 1989) were directing attention toward scient ific literacy for a more socially compassionate and environmentally responsible democracy by indicating science can provide knowledge to develop effective solutions to it global and local problems and can foster the kind of intelligent respect for nature that should inform decisions on the uses of technology. He regrets Science for All Americans did not suggest that scient ific literacy include the willingness to act in environmentally responsible and socially just ways. Some science educators, such as Hodson, believe environmental education is the key to science literacy for the 21st century. He writes: Those without a basic understanding of the ways in which science and technology are impacted by, and impact upon, the physical and the sociopolitical environment will be effectively disempowered and susceptible to being seriously misl ed in exercising their rights within a democratic, technologically-dependent society. (Hodson, 2003, p.650) Pointing toward university-based science educators in particular, Hodson has outlined a proposal to broaden the concept ion of STS. He wishes to include environmental education (nami ng it STSE) and extend the definition of scientific literacy to encompass a measure of political literacy and the use of informal and community-based learning opportunities. Hodson (2003) states we live in a
45 different world and science has lost it s innocence and purity afforded by the creators of major curriculum advances of the 1960s. Hodson (2003) continues stating the succession of human and env ironmental tragedies have sometimes cast science in the role of the villain, where deep social changes and ethical concerns arise from scientific and tec hnological innovations. He believes the increase in commercialization, industrializ ation, and militarization of science have shown once and for all that science is not value-free. Kollmuss and Agyeman (2002) describe Chawlas studies in environmental education concerning the life influences of professional environmentalists. Recollecting their fo rmative years, most environmentalists describe having a predisposition toward nature and the environment based on childhood experiences and the pr o-environmental values held by their families. Many participated in pro-environmental organizations and had teachers as role models. Actually, evaluating a students choi ce in career later in life (e.g., natural resources or environmental field), c an provide a behavioral indicator of internalized environmental stewards hip ethic (McDonnell, 2001). Kollmuss and Agyeman (2002) cite Rajeckis explanation at explaining the gap as a combination of four causes: 1) direct versus indirect experience, 2) normative influences, 3) temporal discrepancy, and attitude-behavior measurement. It has been shown that direct experiences concerning environmental problems (i.e., viewing a fi sh kill in a lake) show a stronger correlation of attitude toward behavior t han indirect learning experiences (i.e.,
46 reading a case study in a book). Direct personal experience with people, objects, or events in a behavioral setting reduces ambiguity and increases the likelihood that expressions of atti tude about a particular behavior will have predictive power (McDonnell, 2001). Social norms and cultural traditions of the dominant culture shape attitudes over time Another factor related to attitudebehavior measurement relates to the actual questions, which may be broad in scope (i.e., Do you care about the envir onment?) versus the measured actions (i.e., Do you recycle?). Another framework for analyzing proenvironmental behavior relates to models of altruism and empathy. Kollm uss and Agyeman (Kollmuss & Agyeman, 2002) cite Borden and Franciss studies of altruism, hypothesizing that people with strong selfish and competitive orientation are less likely to act ecologically and opt to satisfy personal needs (e.g., time, money, energy). Those who have already satisfied their personal needs have more resources to participate in altruistic or pro-environmental issues This hypothesis would make sense according to Maslows hierarchy of hum an needs, since studies have shown that poor countries rank environmental problem s as being severe but their personal priorities may rank higher concerning immediate needs. Kollmuss and Agyeman (2002) describe several theories of caring and altruism that concur that selfesteem, belonging, personal control, and se lf-efficacy are necessary first before altruism may occur. In addition, aw areness of peoples suffering encourages altruistic behavior. Schmitt et al (2000) cites Hoffman who proposed the
47 concept, stating that those who participate in civil rights movements or forms of activism may actually be members of priv ileged social classes, not a minority. Cognitive Dissonance Louis Armstrong may or may not have had a case of the heebie jeebies when he was scatting through his infamous song, but I feel I was onto something when I started learning about Festingers Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Festinger, 1957) in graduate school. At that time I was developing an interest in altruism and Lerners Belief in Just World theory (Lerner, 1965), I was beginning to see educational research articles hinting at using cognitive dissonance as a motivator. Most of the articles centering on cognitive dissonance research were in the field of business, marketing, and nursing education. I felt its application in the use of controversial issues in science courses, particularly those related to STS, was a good fit. Leon Festinger introduced the term cognitive dissonance as a substitute for free association and defined it as feelings of unpleasantness which an individual possesses lying deep in the unconscious, and where the individual seldom if ever realizes the reasons for such feelings (Chow, 2001; Festinger, 1957, 1964). More precisely, Festinger describes his theory in terms of consonance (balance) versus dissonance (imbalance) in reference to elements (knowledges [plural usage per Festinger]) about oneself or how one feels, wants or desires, what one is, and the like (Festinger, 1957). He refers to the term knowledges in its atypical usage of the wo rd, for example, opinions. A person
48 does not hold an opinion unless he or she thinks it is correct, and so psychologically, it is the same as knowledge. The same holds true of beliefs, values, or attitudes, which function as knowledges. Cognitive dissonance occurs in situations when new information becomes known to a person, creating at least a momentary dissonance with the existing knowledge, opinion, or cognition concerning behavior (Festinger, 1957; Misiti & Shrigley, 1994). Dissonance may arise from a logical inconsistency, cultural mores, a specific opinion, or past experiences. When dissonance occurs due to the presence of two elements in dissonance with one another, the magnitude of dissonance is based on the importance of the elements. In other words, if the conflicting elements hold value to a per son, the degree of dissonance rises accordingly. Thogersen (2004) states that not a ll inconsistencies are assumed to be equally disturbing, hence, different levels of cognitive dissonance likely occur. He continues stating that Festinger was not very precise in specifying possible sources of variation in the amount of dissonance produced by inconsistency, but later research has attempted to strengthen the theory on the point. One attempt by Aronson (1997) suggests that feelings of cognitive dissonance are tied to ones self-concept. When ones moral standards are being threatened or challenged, cognitive dissonance emerges. Hence, when a person is subjected to viewing or listening to information that contradicts heart-held beliefs, twinges to sharp spikes of dissonance could develop. Thus, in educational settings, the
49 exposure of students to controversial issues may provoke a dissonant response. The theory of cognitive dissonance differentiates between degrees of dissonance based on an individuals situation. Zimbardo (1969) cites that an 80year old man who smokes may feel li ttle dissonance about dying of lung cancer because he has lived a long, full life, even though he knows that Smoking is related to lung cancer. The issue is not important to the old man; hence, the degree of dissonance is reduced. A y oung college student hearing a lecture about Hiroshima and Nagasaki may feel minimal dissonance due to its historical nature and lack of personal relevance. The same student may feel twinges of dissonance listening to an article regarding birth defects caused by depleted uranium munitions since her/her best fri end is stationed in Iraq. The thirtysomething single mother in a college cla ss may find great interest and concern knowing that the ill effects of PFOA, a suspected carcinogen in Teflon, was known by Dupont for many years ("DuPont Denies EPA Charge of PFOA CoverUp," 2004). Upon hearing a company may have knowingly subjected humans to harm, a student may suffer cognitive dissonance based on the unfairness and injustice of the situation. This type of dissonance may relate to Lerners belief in just world or BJW, which bestows the belief that life is justly fair (Lerner, 1965, 1980, 1997, 2003; Sallay & Dalbert, 2004). Those with high degrees of BJW feel that everything in life is predictable, cont rollable, and what comes around, goes around. Sallay and Dalbert (2004) cite that when people are confronted with an
50 injustice, either observed or experienced, their just-world belief is threatened. They are motivated to restore justice either psychologically (e.g., denial or reinterpretation of the event) or behaviorally (e.g., compensating the injustice). This concept is similar to those who strive for consonance when subjected to cognitive dissonance. On the flip side, those with high levels of BJW may blame the victim to justify the injustice and those with low levels of BJW may develop altruism when faced with the same inju stice (Montada, Schmitt, & Dalbert, 1986; Sallay & Dalbert, 2004). Aspects of BJW and cognitive dissonance may relate to environmental education. A study of fifth and sixth graders revealed that students actively contrasted the notion of rights versus soci etal laws, made utilitarian calculation of effects, and applied principles of justice when confronted with a local environmental dilemma (Pedretti, 1999). Using examples of dilemmas derived from current controversial issues (e.g., malathion spraying for mosquitoes, deep well wastewater injection, draining of Everglades) may be used to entice students into topical research and constructive debat e. Integration of social justice with content learning provides a marriage bet ween the application of STS in the classroom and the justice psychology of BJW. Through the use of discussion in the classroom, students may develop awareness of the ethics, moral implications, and complexities of real world issues. The central assumption of cognitive dissonance is that human beings cannot tolerate inconsistency, and thus, tr y to eliminate or reduce it (Zimbardo &
51 Ebbesen, 1969). If something does not sit well with a person and dissonance occurs, a motivation within the person pushes its reduction through selfrationalization or overt demonstration against the dissonance (i.e., actions). Festinger (1957) describes the strength to reduce the dissonance as a state of drive or need, similar to the presence of hunger which leads one to reduce the hunger. The reduction of dissonance may be accomplished by several methods, depending upon the types of elements involved. The simplest action is to change a behavioral element (i.e., a person stops smoking after learning of its health effects), which may be difficult for some people and may even create a host of new elements in the process. Changing an environmental cognitive element may reduce the dissonance by br inging the cognition into consonance (e.g., avoidance of the dissonance element or associating with like people). By the addition of new cognitive elements into the schema, a proportion of the dissonance may be reduced (i.e., a smoker reading research material listing the increased death risk of automobile driving versus smoking). Although the inclination of a person wit h cognitive dissonance is to reduce the magnitude of the dissonance, this may not always happen. A person may find the social support needed to reduce it, but it is possible the dissonance may actually increase in strength. It will depend upon what the person encounters during the attempt to reduce the dissonance. Personality differences of individuals, life experiences, and innate va lues may determine if avoidance or perhaps confrontation will occur when confronted with dissonance.
52 Cognitive dissonance arousal has been empirically substantiated in extensive indirect and direct studies (Cooper & Fazio, 1984; Elliot & Devine, 1994). The few studies performed on cognitive dissonance arousal used direct self-report measure and showed an unequivocal demonstration of the psychological aversion of dissonance. Thus, the phenomenological experience of cognitive dissonance appears to be a distinct, aversive feeling, not an undifferentiated arousal state (Elliot & Devine, 1994). By exposing students to controversial i ssues in the classroom, feelings of dissonance may erupt. When students are exposed to alternative perceptions and conflicting views, creating a state of cognitive imbalance, they are motivated to continue the discussion to resolve the cognitive conflict (King, 2002). Interactions with their peers require students to confront any differences in each others current understanding of the topic as well as their differing attitudes or perspectives. However, through ex plaining and defending their views, the conflicts may be reconciled through this social construction of knowledge. King (2002) believes that high-level cognitive processing involves making inferences, drawing conclusions, synthesizing ideas, generating hypotheses, comparing and contrasting, finding and articulati ng problems, analyzing and evaluating alternatives, and more. Furthermore, cogni tive dissonance could possibly be the catalyst to high-level cognitive processing. Reflective Thinking When Bessie Smith sang Thinking Blues in 1928, she probably was not
53 contemplating Reflective Thinking at t he time, but it was around that period that John Dewey was considering How We Thin k. Dewey (1933) defines reflective thought as active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and the further conclusions to which it tends. He continues stating reflection implies that something is believed in or disbelieved in, not on its own direct account, but through something else which stands as witness, evidence, proof, voucher, or warrant, that is, a s a ground of belief. (Dewey, 1933, p. 8) King and Kitchener (2004) may have been inspired by Deweys works (1933) when they developed the Reflecti ve Judgment Model (RJM). Dewey described how reflective judgments ar e created upon encountering controversial arguments or doubts when logic alone does not contribute to the reasoning of the dilemma. It is widely accepted that an individuals personal beliefs contribute substantially to epistemological cognition, in resolving issues via ones individual thought processes (Schommer-Aikins & Hutter, 2002). During the last 25 years, Kitchener and King have further examined RJM in late adolescent and adult development, largely basing their rationale on the cognitive-development theories of Piaget and Kohlberg. Both theorists share the commonly held approaches that pres ume the following: 1) underlying assumptions that meanings are constr ucted; 2) the emphasis on understanding how individuals make meaning of their ex periences; and 3) the assumption that development occurs as people interact with their environments (King & Kitchener, 2004). In addition, it is spec ulated that as cognitive development
54 progresses, the organizational interpretation of events becomes more integrated and complex. Kitchener and King developed their seven (7) stage model, which is grouped into three levels: pre-reflective thinking (Stages 1), quasi-reflective thinking (4), and reflective thinking (Stages 6). As one encounters a controversial dilemma, a person assumes the levels as follows: Pre-reflective thinkingThe person assumes that the knowledge is correct based on beliefs, including the absence of evidence or an opinion of an authority figure. Quasi-reflective thinkingThe person recognizes uncertainty in the knowing process and that knowledge is internally constructed, not simply dictated by authority. Reflective thinkingThe person weighs evidence, develops interpretations based on reasonable evaluation of various perspectives, and concludes a position. As new evidence arises, the information may be evaluated, altering the current argument. The field of science education is ripe for stimulating young adults through exposure to dilemmas in science and bioethics. Topics such as embryonic stem cell research or medical marijuana us age provide fodder for students to ponder, contemplate, and debate. Since many young adults are close to voting age, familiarity with value-laden complex issues is imperative to produce an informed, democratic citizen. Students can filter through the science facts and construct
55 their own conclusions they can live with. Kitchener and King (2004) describe the study performed by Wood, Kitchener and Jensen that examined 8,537 students enrolled in college, graduate, and professional programs at sev en different colleges and universities. While controlling for academic aptitude and prior academic achievement, graduate students scored significantly higher than medical students, whom scored significantly higher than undergraduat e students (p<.001). It is interesting that the medical students fared in the middle because they likely will encounter controversial and ethical issues in their prof ession. It is a possibility that the factbased nature of biology and anatomy and physiology may predispose the students toward memorization, without enc ouraging reflective reasoning. This has been a complaint of those who view science as a collection of facts and theories, rather than an integration of content with societal undertones. Friedman (2004) performed a study of the relationship between reflective judgment and personality traits. When a person encounters a controversial dilemma, the degree of reflective reasoning may be dependent upon certain personality traits within the individual. Fr iedmans study hypothesized that six of 14 traits would be significantly associated with reflective reasoning and intellectual disposition, as follows: thin king introversion, theoretical orientation, estheticism, complexity, religious orientation, and autonomy. Contrarily, the remaining eight traits were hypothesized to be irrelevant to reflective reasoning, including the following: social extrov ersion, impulse expression, personal
56 integration, anxiety level, altruism, pr actical outlook, masculinity-femininity, and response bias. The sampling pool cons isted of 91 undergr aduate, graduate, and doctoral students enrolled in a pr ivate Catholic institution. The results of Freidmans study show ed four of the six hypothesized traits to be associated with intellectual disposit ion: thinking introversion, autonomy, theoretical orientation, and complexity (F riedman, 2004). Contrary to the original hypothesis, the authors definition of intellectual disposition was lacking significance in two areas: estheticism and religiosity. Actually, the insignificance of religiosity appears reasonable because those guided by religion likely adhere to authoritarian viewpoints, without producing reflective thinking. Two additional personality traits not previously cons idered were correlated with scores as follows: response bias and altruism. The result of altruism appears to be particularly interesting because it implies that a person who is capable of high reflective judgment may harbor a global perspective; empathy toward social service, and sensitivity toward humanity. Freidman (2004) believes that experiences such as participating in community service activities, student government, or the Peace Corps not only enhances understanding of other pers pectives, but encourages selftranscendence, expansion of social radi us, and acknowledgment of universal truths. While participating in these types of activities, people may encounter human suffering, injustices, and social dilemmas, often which require empathy, tolerance, and sensitivity. High level reflective thinking appears to fit into the
57 framework created by altruism. Freidman (2004) concluded that reflective persons actively solve dilemmas in real life, assimilate new l earning, and modify previously held belief systems. Cultural, social, and historical experiences impact the complexity of the dimension, requiring an open-minded outlook to develop reflective judgment. The profound meaning underlying Freidmans research is best said in the following: Knowing for the sake of knowing, being predisposed to knowing, or knowing how to know, may have little real value in life where acting upon a belief system is what impacts societal change. (Friedman, 2004, p. 303) Karjanne (2003) evaluated the relations hip between reflective judgment and laypeoples viewpoints through interviewing 59 Finnish adults (1986) and following-up 1993. The participants consisted of people working in all professions and the ages ranged between 24 and 50 years at the follow-up time (only three participants refused to rejoin the study). Kitchener and Kings RJI was administered using the food additive dilemma from the original studies. He had hoped to determine a connection between reflective judgment and the dilemma, determine if educational level plays a role in reflective judgment, and if there are indicators at particular stages of reflective judgment. Since reflective judgment devel opment coincides with young adulthood and entry into higher education, this may be a difficult time in students lives. Students in todays society may encounter ethnic and social diversity, sexual situations, and difficult life choices. E ducators can assist students in acquiring
58 and possibly mastering skills associated with complex thinking, coaxing the students into higher reflective stages in the process. Guthries (1997) research on tolerance for diversity among college students suggests that tolerance requi res a base level of intellectual development, specifically, reflective judgm ent ability. She continues that although moral and intellectual developments are re lated domains, the experiences that affect each progression may vary. Guthri e continues citing Kitchener and Kings belief that ill-structured problems in t he moral domain concern making decisions about social values, especially about how humans ought to act in particular situations. Moral dilemmas that college students may encounter may touch value systems and intellect, involving epistemological issues. Decisions and solutions may require constructing information that may be gapped or incomplete, making assumptions in the process. Various perspectives and opinions may be contemplated to assemble a reasonable conclusion the student can reasonably tolerate. Although tolerance or nonprejudice responses are related to intellectual development, reflec tive thinkers tend to be less influenced by outside opinions (e.g., parents, society, and religion). Guthrie did note that intellectual development does not comple tely predict tolerance, which is consistent with Devines model of prejudi ce (Devine, 1989). The level of moral sensitivity and emotional response may not be fully developed in college students and they may not be aware of their innate bias and stereotyping unless an educator draws attention to the situati on through the use of moral dilemmas.
59 This is definitely a benefit for the use of controversial issues in the science classroom. According to the RJM studies, maturi ty plays an integral role in the development of reflective thinking. Fri edmans study of personality traits showed that RJI was associated with an introspective, independent-minded, abstract thinking individual. Science encourages me thodical, logical sorting of facts and positive skepticism. Tolerance of we lcoming new developments in science may alter or enhance a theory, creating di ssonance among young adults who only see in black and white terms. Young adults need to be encouraged to question the facts and create solutions based on sound assumptions. These critical response skills can be learned and with practice can become a lifelong habit of mind (AAAS, 1989). Reflective Writing Even Johnny Mercer may agree What could be a better way to reflect than writing? If John Dewey were alive, he would be a likely proponent of reflective writing, since the elements are i ndicated in his work. Reflective writing critically evaluates and develops personal judgments for the purpose of applying the analysis to future action and goals (Josefson, 2005). Seeking the truth through this self-analytical process is the goal. Josefson (2005) suggests five stages of reflection: 1) exploration, 2) explanation, 3) conjecture, 4) analysis and 5) synthesis. The stages are further explained as follows:
60 The exploration stage requires student s to explicitly state his/her prejudgments or beliefs held about a particular issue up front so they can be held up to critical examination. The explanation stage requires students to engage in comparison/contrast and clarify the concepts of the perpl exity or disequilibria, as Dewey would say. The conjecture stage requires students to formulate a question that might help them resolve or at least furt her explore the tensions created. The analysis stage requires students to connect the dots by bringing forth a position as opposed to arguing for a position. The synthesis stage requires students to draw out the implications of their analysis (Josefson, 2005). Reflective writing for college students assists in self-discovery and selfanalysis. I have observed my environmental students term papers and short opinion pieces with much interest and in trigue. Students appear to naturally want to be heard and participate in a running online dialogue with me. Some students email personal questions concerning their home life, How do I get rid of the fruit rats in my tr ees without hurting the environment? One student wrote a paper about the Effects of the Human Papilloma Virus and later confessed to me that she was recently diagnosed with it. She is glad her baby born a few months ago was via C-sect ion. I recall how another student wrote that she prompted her father to recycle scrap wood and build a fence to
61 hide her trash container. This was a father-daughter weekend project she was inspired to do after the lecture on re cycling. Even if the students are not mature or experienced enough to create a well-constructed reflective essay, their application of classroom knowl edge and self-expression is refreshing. Explicit Memory and Emotion Scientists are making discoveries in regard to intentional and incidental learning. According to Steven Peters en, neuropsychologist, most of what we remember from our everyday life we have learned incidentally (D'Arcangelo, 2000). We are bombarded from birth to adulthood with overwhelming amounts of information, experiences, and memories. We remember information in our lives that mean the most to us and it normally requires little effort. According to Petersen, hundreds of studies in the cogni tive psychological literature show, in most cases, incidental learning is as good asand in some cases better than intentional learning (D'Arcangelo, 2000). He continues If you compare a situation in which people are asked to remember a list of words with a situation in which people are asked to tell you what the words mean to them and how much they like those words, the latter group will remember the list of words just as well even though they havent been intentional trying to remember them. (DArcangelo, 2000, p. 70) The interview with Steven Petersen is especially interesting in regard to environmental education. In environmental courses, students are exposed to an integration of science content within a social context, unlike straight singlesubject science courses. When controversia l issues are tossed into the mixture, the kettle becomes a minestrone of envir onmental topics. Students will likely
62 consume, sample, and devour what has value to them. The question becomes, What has value to the students in an environmental science college course? Every time I cook, look like you can't get enough Fix you a pot of soup and make you drink it up So keep on a-eating Oh, keep on a-eating Keep on eating, baby, till you get enough. (Memphis Minnie) Petersen discusses how emotion can be used to direct attention in the classroom, leading to better learni ng (D'Arcangelo, 2000). If students are uninvolved and unmotivated in an explicit l earning situation, learning will likely not be achieved. However, if an instructor can get the students emotionally charged, they can possibly rise beyond the effective level (D'Arcangelo, 2000). Reading these statements from Petersen provides powerful support for the benefits of stimulating cognitive dissonance in student s through discussions of controversial issues in the science classroom. The controversial issues may be the impetus to drive the emotion to promote both inci dental and explicit learning. Petersen believes slight stressful situations in a learning environment are better than an absolutely neutral state (D'Arcangelo, 2000). It is well documented that emotion enhances explicit memory for material that encompasses personal autobiographica l, picture, and word-based items (Dolan, 2002). Name recognition is enhanced by the input of emotion. Psychological evidence shows emotion as an affect on episodic memory function, indicating influences on hippocam pal function and most probably extraamygdala regions (Dolan, 2002). Fo r these reasons, there appears to be
63 physiological and psychological support for the use of controversial issues in the classroom. Controversial or value-laden issues may create feelings between a pang and a mild disturbance (dissonance), depending on its emotional context of the individual. As shown, these emotional reactions may enhance memory or word associations according to their value for students. So whether Frank Sinatra is Learnin the Blues or teaching the blues, emotionally-laden material stays with a person long after the song is over. It is the personal relevance or resurfacing of memories from indicator tags that entrenches a sullen songor a memorable college lecture. Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Age Students For the last year, I have been teaching environmental science to nonscience majors at a small private college. Students enrolled in the liberal arts programs typically earn a two-year degree, but some do further strive and earn a four-year degree. Other trends worth not ing: more students attend college parttime than in previous years; a hi gher proportion of st udents are women; and more students are over age 25 (Oblinger, 2003). I personally have observed the diversity in age ranges and reasons for pursuing higher education. From my experience in the college classroom, there appears to be a large group of students who are traditionally-aged coll ege students, between 18 and 22 years old. They are likely single, employed and may or may not live at home. There appears to be a group of female students in their late twenties to mid-thirties, single mothers, and who may still be living at home with family or their babys
64 father. There appears to be a group of divorced, working men and women in their late thirties to early fifties w ho are pursuing a college degree to raise their economic status. I have observed a group of men in their mid-thirties to late forties who are either ex-military or who have been unemployed for some time and in need of a fresh career path. With th is diversity, a college instructor must be able to reach and touch the students who obviously bring to the table various experiences and needs. What are their attitudes, strengths, and weaknesses? Who are these students? There are three generations which represent students enrolled in college today: Baby Boomers (born between 1943 and 1963); Generation X (born 1964 to 1980), and Millennials (1981 to present). Journal articles differ on the definitive birth date range of the Baby Boom ers, but for this paper, the birth date range will stand. I was born in 1962 and identify more with Baby Boomers than Generation Xers likely due to my upbringing. I was raised by two liberal leaning Baby Boomers who were very much into the pop culture and shared the values of the era. Also, it is not an accident that my focus in generational influences emerged in my dissertation. My Masters thesis The Influence of Risk Communication on Environmental Perceptions delved heavily into the topic, so my current work is an extension of a long time interest. In their book Generations Neil Howe and William Strauss (1991) define their generational model as a theory of social history that describes and explains changes in public attitudes. Howe and Strauss believe that a persons value
65 system is created during the first 10 years of life. Any significant historical or life events during these years instill the soci etal values, which are carried with the person throughout his or her life. P eople who were reared during similar historical years often experience these ev ents. With this in mind, a life cycle occurs approximately every 20 years, with the onset of the next generation. As a generation matures from youth to young adult, middle life, and senior years, the generational attitudes evolve to a different societal role. Baby Boomers. Offspring of the Silent G eneration (those born between 1925 and 1942) became known as the Baby Boom er generation. Baby Boomers came of age in the 1960s, a turbulent and socially revolutionary decade in the history of the United States. Political upheaval, ant i-war protests, and breaks from tradition marked the turning point of social cult ure and values. Disillusionment with the system included corporate hierarchy, authority figures, and the U.S. government. Young peoples beliefs, hopes, and dreams of a better United States were shattered with the assassi nation of President John F. Kennedy. Americans watched in disbelief as the grisly scene replayed on national television. Other assassinations soon fo llowed those who supported civil rights, such as Senator Robert Kennedy and Dr. Mart in Luther King, Jr. After theories of government conspiracies overshadow ed these tragedies, the American people became distrustful. In 1967, racially motivated violence broke out in Los Angeles and Detroit demonstrating further unrest. Additional disillusionment with the American government prevailed due to t he United States involvement in the
66 Vietnam conflict. The unpopularity of the war, which seemed senseless and futile, prompted student protests and demonstrations. Students openly criticized the U.S. government and s pouted anti-war demonstrations on national news. Students rebelled against university adminis trations, government officials, and denounced authority figures through activism. The 1960s appeared to be a decade of violence and unrest, which saddened the complacent Silent Generation. The Baby Boomer generation questioned authority, in contrast to the elders of the Silent Generation. In stead of being drafted to Vietnam, many young men pursued multiple college degrees or fled to Canada (Tabone, 2002). The 1960s marked a decade of revolt of traditional values and welcomed a journey of self-exploration and indivi dualism. Young American men and women abandoned their modest proper dress in favor of unkempt, tattered clothing. Men opted for long hair, beards and mustaches, in contrast to the 1950s clean shaven Leave it to Beaver look. Women, in the spirit of their newfound feminism sported pants, long hair, scarce makeup, and no bras. In addition, women began reentering the work force and demanded equal pay. With two parents working, children of the Baby Boomers became lat ch key kids. In the 1960s, after the advent of the birth control pill, young Americans found a new sexual freedom, in contrast to the repressed Silent Generati on. Morality took a new twist as couples engaged in premarital sex and lived together Young adults discovered the freedom of self-discovery and introspecti on by exploring religions outside of traditional Christianity. Inte rest grew in the areas of Transcendental Meditation,
67 mysticism, New Age, and even fundamenta list Christianity (Tabone, 2002). The 1960s marked a back to nat ure theme with the birth of environmentalism. Concern for Mother Earth became the nations pastime. A movement toward natural food products emerged. Not only did Baby Boomers sink back into earthly comforts but also they reached to the heavens. In 1969, when man walked on the moon, a new space frontier and age of technology was launched. As the 1970s arrived, Baby Boomers felt an even deeper disillusionment with the government as the Watergate Scandal (1973) emerged. The morale of the country reached a new low as Presi dent Richard Nixon was impeached. The 1970s highlighted the downfall of the econom y into a recession, when inflation rose dramatically, creating inflated pr ices. Abandonment of employer loyalty became the mode of self-promotion. Americans began seeking better employment and pay by job hopping (Tabone, 2002). Baby Boomers married and had children at a later age than the previous generations. In the 1970s, the divorce rate rose, creating single-parent households for childrearing. Surrogate fa milies were created as divorced parents remarried and had children. Some blame the increase in the divorce rate due to the sexual revolution, loss of family values, and narcissistic mid-life. Baby Boomers started to think about themselves and did not stay in relationships for the sake of the children. In the 1980s, as the economy improved, Baby Boomers began searching for
68 the American Dream through living the yuppie lifestyle. As narcissism increased, the Baby Boomers felt they s hould be rewarded for their years of hard work. As the computer age created hi gher technology, the Baby Boomers purchased all the latest gadgets and crazes. The spending spree continued through the 1990s, as the unemployment rate was at its lowest since the before the Vietnam War. To maintain the living style, Baby Boomers resorted to credit cards and borrowing, creating a greater debt load in contrast to previous generations (Tabone, 2002). With the coming of the Millennium, the moral fiber of the American public took on two extremesultra liberal to extremel y conservative. Topics that were taboo to the Silent Generation are openly discu ssed by the American public and shown in the media. Toward the end of the 21st century, the Moral Majority gained political power, attempting to persuade the American people to their views through legislation. Generation X. The Generation Xers, who are ch ildren of the Baby Boomers, were born in a period of slow birth growth, between 1965 and 1975. These years reflect the core group of Generation X. The single lowest birth year in U.S. history was 1975 (Strauss & Howe, 1991). The Generation Xers have been widel y criticized as being the slacker generation. With the fluctuation of the economy, Generation X has contended with corporate downsizing, stock market cr ashes and lack of faith in politicians. Most of the Generation Xers seek educ ation in fields which guarantee monetary
69 rewards. Company loyalty is non-existen t, as well as the lack of job security provided by employers. Generation X ers have been subjected to so much risk of violence, abuse, HIV, and drugs at an ear ly age, that acceptance as a fact of life has become the norm. Unlike the B aby Boomers who grew up in innocence, there is no safe and secure world to the Generation Xer. Even the family life is insecure with a large portion of the popul ation growing up in broken families. By the year 1990, families with worki ng mothers became the norm. Children were being raised by day cares and received little of the traditional family life as parents worked harder and longer hours. Guilty due to the lack of time and attention, parents often lavished child ren with material belongings, without teaching the value to money. Generati on Xers grow into adulthood, expecting material rewards for work, and not for the intrinsic value (Tabone, 2002). Since the Generation X inherited econom ical recessions and inflation, many do not leave home at adulthood. Some may find themselves moving back to the nest after marriages fail. The Baby Boomer grandparents, who are approaching retirement, raise the grandchildren. Politically, Generation Xers are known as noncommittal and lean toward pragmatism. Many have been accused of apathy and no interest in politics or voting. The attitude of most Generation Xers is why bother.whats in it for me? or Whatever? The Generation X lives for today and not the future, feeling life is an uphill battle. Most feel t hey will have to work until death since the promise of economical rewards and the benef it of Social Security is bleak
70 (Tabone, 2002). The Generation Xers have experienced gr owth spurts of technology, as the world entered the computer age. They are comfortable wit h computers and are open-minded to technological advancements. Some have achieved wealth through Internet-related businesses. The Internet has marked an important place in a Generation Xers life, as it may se rve as a source of information and social life for the self-absorbed. According to Howe and Strauss (2000), the Generation Xers have not known war (with the exception of the Gulf War Conflict). Their book was written prior to the events of 9-11, which may show a ve ry different story. Howe and Strauss list the Challenger explosion and the Okl ahoma Bombing as climactic events for Generation X. Millennials. This Millennial Generation, as described by Howe and Straus (2000), were raised with Gameboys, the Internet, cellular phones, and i-pods and are adept at following directions. They are driven by parental micromanagement as their schedules, needs, and so cial lives are prepared for them. Authority figures play a prominent role in molding their thinking patterns as creative skepticism is stifled. Mill ennials have come to trust and count on authority, leading them to a sheltered existence. They are encouraged to follow rules and not buck the system, although most find it acceptable to cheat and plagiarize in this age of technological savvy and access to information (DeBard, 2004; Howe & Strauss, 2000; Wilson, 2004). Millennials are believed to be more
71 politically conservative, while holding li beral attitudes toward social issues (Wilson, 2004). They are known to be very team-oriented and desire cooperation, structured learning, and oppose risk taking (Howe & Strauss, 2000; Oblinger, 2003). Highly conventional, one of the great challenges to Millennial students in college is to navigate the turbulent wate rs of divergent values practices and espoused by those who do not share their characteristics (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). Oblinger (2003) sums up the charac teristics of Millennials as follows: gravitate toward group activity; identify with their parents values and feel close to their parents; spend more time doing homework and housework and less time watching TV; believe its cool to be smart; are fascinated by new technologies; are racially and ethnically diverse; and often (one in five) have at least one immigrant parent. Seventy-six million strong at the end of 2000, this generation shares a lot of unique qualities over the previous gener ations (Howe & Strauss, 2000). Millennials are more affluent than previous generations due to parental allowances. Parents have told this generati on they are special so confidence is a trademark. Howe and Strauss (2000) descr ibe the Millennials as looking polite, well-behaved, and clean-cut, yet they are probably the most tattooed and pierced generation I can recall! According to Howe & Strauss (2000), mo st Millennials are far more trusting
72 than their parents concerning t he capacity of large national institutions to do the right thing on the nations behalf. Higher trust in government officials may contribute to lower cynicism and may actually reduce voter participation (Blackhurst & Foster, 2003). While they do not feel their civics classes are particularly important, they more likely than adults (50 to 26 percent) trust the government (Howe & Strauss, 2000). W hen teens are asked who is going to clean up the environment, cut the crime ra te, and solve world problems, they point to teachers, government, and police. Blackhurst and Foster (2003) examined community volunteerism and political involvement of college students since Howe and Strauss (2000) had noted community service was popular with the M illennials. The percentage of students who reported participating in community service projects (71.3% in 1996 and 67.5% in 2000) was comparable to the voting reported in the 1996 and 2000 elections (Blackhurst & Foster, 2003). T he researchers believed the relatively high percentage of voting for those between 18 and 24 years predicts later political involvement. Blackhurst and Foster (2003) concluded Millennials who did not vote were significantly more apathetic, cynical, and less optimistic than voters. There was a significant correlation (p=.0001) between students attitudes and both their political commitment and service involvement. After reading in journal articles about the rise in volunteerism among the Millennials, I decided to ask a local college student for his opinion. He is a junior majoring in political science, a former E agle Scout, and is currently interning with
73 a local Congressional candidate. I asked him What provokes your generation to participate in so much volunteerism? He simply replied, Its not by choice. If you want to get a scholarship or get into a good school, you have to do community service to beef up the resume. So, after reading books by Howe and Strauss, I wonder if they are really in touch with the Millennials? Most Millennials have been sheltered by their doting parents, who have organized their social lives (e.g., socce r practice, parties, play dates) and pushed their children into achievement (e.g., Sylvan Learning Centers, private tutors). Achievement for this generation is at an all time high (DeBard, 2004; Howe & Strauss, 2000; Strauss & Howe, 1991). Yet with all this confidence and support, the Millennials are also the generation was raised with Prozac and Ritalin! For the next 20 years, colleges and universities will be contending with Millennials and their needs: the need for order and organization, computer and technological savvy, and yearning for teamwork. Adjustments will need to be made to reach these students as well as the mix of Generation Xers and Baby Boomers enrolled in the system. As cu mbersome or overwhelming as it may seem to accommodate all of the generations, we need to listen to Johnny Mercers advice and ac-cent -tchu-ate the positive. Summary Science education reform, which has been mandated in K-12 schools, is not pervasive in higher education. A non-science major may be introduced to
74 science through a sole course, limiti ng the undergraduate science students ability to act as a scientific literate citiz en. A non-science majors attitude toward science may be created or destroyed based on his or her experience. The introduction of controversial issues into an introductory science course, particularly environmental science, may promote cognitive dissonance, which serves as a motivator towards student interest and serve as a path toward reflective thinking. Discussion of emot ionally charged issues in environmental science may increase memory and enhance learning (DArcangelo, 2000). An increase of traditional and non-traditional aged students in higher education has been observed. It is the goal in higher education to reach all students in spite of generational differenc es. For this reason, the embedding of controversial issues in the curriculum as well as other science education reform techniques may enhance multigenerational learning.
75 Chapter ThreeMethods Used in this Study Introduction Having performed traditional quantitative research and mixed methods in the past, I found the qualitative portion of my studies demonstrated the most interesting findings. The nuances and anomalies created intrigue and provoked further questioning. Like jazz improvisati on, you never know which note is next! Reflecting upon my Masters thes is, the quantitative approach of measuring with an instrument to generate knowledge felt contrived. The data did not flow freely from the participants. They were forced through the pre-determined question slots provided on a survey form. The free-flowing essay portion of the survey yielded fascinating results. Phenomenological Framework The nuts-and-bolts of my research study included reviewing literature on qualitative methods and asking, What is the best method to answer my research question? The purpose of my study was to describe and explain the ways nonscience majors in an undergraduate environmental science course respond to controversial issues embedded in the curricu lum of a course consistent with the science reform movement. What I realized is that both the students and I were undergoing the experience together Creswell (1998) states a phenomenologica l study describes the meaning
76 of the lived experiences for several i ndividuals that encounter a concept or phenomenon. Probing deeper into the meaning of phenomenology, its aim appears to describe phenomena rather than cr eate explanation (Ehrich, 1996). The descriptions must be as one under goes the human experience, digging deeply into ones self. Based on students living the experience of controversial issues embedded in the 12-week course, a phenomenological approach appeared to be appropriate. Phenomenological studies ask subjects to write descriptions of a situation experienced in a particular phenomenon, in -depth interviews, or case study analysis (Ehrich, 1996). Data are collected in two key ways: focusing on the participants experiences (using interviews without actually experiencing the phenomenon) or the researchers ex perience in the phenomenon as an observant of participants (Bogdan & Taylor 1975; Patton, 2002). According to Patton, either approach is legitimate for a phenomenological study. The phenomenological approach to data analysis involves four steps: description, extraction, transformation, and synthesis. The searcher first reads all descriptions in their entirety. These narratives describe the human experience and consciousness of the participants in the study. The researcher extracts significant statements or meaning units from each description. These statements are formulated into meanings, and these meanings are clustered into themes. The researcher integrates these themes into narrative
77 description. (Creswell, 1998, 2000; Ehrich, 1996; Moustakas, 1994). Ehrich (1996) further describes the fi nal stage of synthesis as important because the researcher moves from specific structural descriptions to recognizing general commonalties across the sample of subjects experience of the phenomena (i.e., theme). She continues stating an assumption within phenomenological studies is that individuals are unique and have unique experiences, phenomenological studies also emphasize an examination of the experiences of a number of subjects so the essences or essential structures can em erge. (Ehrich, 1996, p. 205) Description of Participants and Location of Study For the last year, I have been teachi ng an environmental science course which is required for all non-science majors enrolled in liberal arts programs at the college. Each class normally consists of 25 to 40 students, depending upon the time of day or number of sections offered. The undergraduate majors include the following: accounting, busine ss management, medical billing, paralegal studies, computers, and criminology. T he students at the college earn either an Associates or Bachelors degree. The students enrolled in the course appear to be traditional college-age students (late teens to early twenties) and non-traditional age students (thirties thru fifties). All of the students are l egally adults. My past teaching experience indicated the composition of cla sses generally as follows: 42 percent (Millennials), 42 percent (Generation Xer s) and Baby Boomers (16 percent).
78 There are normally 60 percent females and 40 percent males enrolled in the course. Students practice various lifestyles (e.g., gay, single-parent, living at home, etc.), socioeconomic statuses (e.g., middle-income, low-income), employment statuses (e.g., employed, unemployed, ex-militar y), and ethnicities (e.g., Caucasian, Asian, African-Amer ican, and mixed races). A large portion receives Federal assistance for both school tuition and living expenses. The college is located in a suburb of a metropolitan city (approximately 2.4 million people) in southeastern United States. The area is considered to be multi-cultural in composition, with student ethnicities including Asian, Croatian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, and African. Description of the Course and Activities After answering an advertisement in t he newspaper for an Environmental Instructor, I began teaching in spring 2005. The school requires students in each major field of study to enroll in a four-c redit science course. I was given a PrenticeHall textbook entitled Environmental Science toward a Sustainable Future and a general syllabus format. Keeping the quarte r system (one four-hour class for each of 12 weeks) in mind, I was asked to desi gn the course as I saw fit. The design includes grading, lecture met hods, topics, field trip options, test design, assessment methods, demonstrations, and use of in-class media. A copy of the syllabus is included in Appendix A. The college does not use Blackboard or any equivalent website-based
79 tool. As a courtesy, I email students Power Point presentations in advance of each lecture, course announcements, and links to interesting environmental articles. I encourage communication via email and require that every student obtain an email address. I devote the first 45 minutes of class instruction to oral readings of newspaper clippings concerning current environmental science articles and political news related to environmental sci ence. I always list the source of the articles and often provide the title and aut hor so students may verify authenticity. Students are provided with an open forum to discuss the introduced issues. I act as moderator and ask probing questions to keep the dialogue flowing. I emphasize bioethical iss ues related to human experimentation, especially controversial science practice s used in the United States during the past 70 years. Research into science atrocities and breaches of bioethics has become a pet project. Current political controversial issues discussed in the course include the following: mining lim estone in the Everglades, logging in national forests, drilling for oil in the Gu lf of Mexico and Alaska, depleted uranium and white phosphorus weapons in Iraq, Gu lf War Syndrome, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, pesticide testing on children in Jacksonville, the Teflon controversy, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. During the course, I share personal st ories of bioethical issues regarding the environment. One unique scenario I de scribe to the students is called the Stuckeys dilemma. I describe to the class my personal experience with a site
80 that had a benzene-contaminated potable well that the government agency refused to treat with activated carbon. The water is consumed by low-income families who live in converted apartments at the back of the former Stuckeys. In addition, the water is used by the restauran t/grille for public consumption. I tell the students about my experiences in other whistleblower cases, such as my work with EPA and Department of Agriculture to uncover a mold scam conglomerate. In addition, I tell how I obtained classified information from the CIA concerning military exper imentations (e.g., release of whooping cough and yellow fever mosquitoes into the environment for tracking studies) performed in the 1950s in our local community. I normally introduce the same news articles every quarter to coincide with a planned lecture. During the summer quarter, small deviations based on hot topics of the week slightly altered the mi x. I offer articles to the class as handouts on topics such as composting, the environmental voting records of House and Senate representatives, and global warming. A schedule and list of the articles discussed during the lectures each school quarter are presented in Appendix B. Most of the science content is delivered through the Power Point presentations that were included in t he Prentice-Hall textbook. I added original slides and photographs to expand topics. Fo r example, I show slides of my environmental field excursions to show how scientists work in real life. I deliver a traditional board lecture for one chapter on ecology and natural selection to
81 provide a contrast. Short video presentations from National Geographic, the PBS series NOW and even John Stewarts The Daily Show provide hard factual science mixed with a bit of humor. In addition, prior to the field trip to the reclaimed water facility, I share a cartoon pr ovided by the utility company. Students are divided into groups of four to participate in activities centered on recycling plastics, hazardous waste in the home, and a hypothetical environmental management case called Clear Lake. The Clear Lake activity occurs during the last class before the final exam because it ties together the entire quarter. Each group of students det ermines where to place a particular item (e.g., pine bundling industry, well fi eld, environmental science center, cattle farm, picnic area, and sinkhole) in relation to the lake. I perform a sinkhole demonstration which gives students a fun, yet serious, perspective on how sinkholes are created. I create a model of a sinkhole using soil from my backyard, purchased silica sand, sugar cubes, a ceramic Victorian house, a large clear pl astic container, and a pitcher of warm water (Tabone & Keen-Rocha, 2004). As a student volunteer mimics rainfall by pouring warm water in intervals onto the ceramic house, the house slowly sinks and tilts to one side. Although simplistic in des ign, it is a visual recreation of how a sinkhole is formed and a surface structure reacts. During the school quarter, I offer the opportunity for a field trip to a reclaimed water facility. Students are encouraged to bring a family member,
82 spouse, significant other, friend, or t eenage child along on the Saturday outing. The facility provides classroom instruct ion and a tram-tour of the operations and various sewage treatment stations (e.g., cl arifiers, gratings, fertilizer building). The facility uses anaerobic digestion to produce methane for heat-treating sludge to create fertilizer. There is a river al ongside the facility with numerous birdlife, creating a unique experience. I have a strong belief in experiential education and felt the field trip was essential to the college course experience. Even though the field trips are optional and extra credit are given to t hose who attended, I ask the students, Do you remember taking field trips as a child? Where did you go and how old were you? Many students remember going to a museum, zoo, or science center when they were in elementary school, possibly 30 to 40 years ago! My thinking is if the trip made an impression on them as a child, then a family-bonding experience as an adult is definitely worthwhile. Grading Requirements The students receive grading credit for the following: attendance and participation; two term papers; weekly hom ework assignments, reaction papers, and a cumulative final exam. The week ly homework questions are a combination of original questions and assigned textbook questions. The answers are discussed during the following class and credit (not in a grade form) is given. Letter grades are given for the term papers and final exam. Penalties are applied
83 to late term papers. Students are requi red to produce a reaction paper every week. If the student provides a weekly paper (at least 10 papers), he or she receives the required credit plus extra point s. Extra credit is given for the field trip attendance. Reaction Papers Students write one-half to one page weekly reaction papers to reflect upon their classroom experience or topics discussed in class. Students react to topics that strike a chord with them, often using this as a venting mechanism, and tie the discussion to personal experienc es. I tell the students Some of the issues we discuss in class may be controversial in nature. Write your reaction about a topic or group of topics we discussed in class. Here is an opportunity for you to express your feelings on paper. Some of you may not want to contribute to class discussions, but you have an opinion. This is your opportunity to vent. Students submit the reaction papers for cr edit on a weekly basis (either in hand-written or email format) or at the end of the quarter in a bound diary. This provides the student with an outlet for self -reflection, expression of viewpoints, and individual student-teacher dialogue. Inventory and Data Collection Pilot Study. Since approximately August 2005, I have been observing students in my environmental science classe s. As extra credit, I offered students the opportunity to provide weekly reaction papers of their classroom experiences. Some students took advantage of the prospect, which provided me
84 with insight. In addition, toward the end of each quarter, students completed the environmental science inventory to provide a snap shot of demographics and their classroom experiences. The invent ory was tweaked each quarter. The pilot study assisted in uncovering themes which were necessary for performing the literature review and designing the future study. Data Collection. The data was gathered from student s writings. Students perceptions of the course were analyzed and interpreted from various sources, as follows: Weekly reaction papers Cold writing exercises Environmental Science Inventory Observations of students during cla ss sessions, class breaks (before, midway, and after class), and after-school telephone conversations in the form of field notes Every week, students wrote their reac tions to topics discussed during the lecture. Students typically wrote one-half to one page of material. The reaction papers were maintained in my home office during the duration of the study. If the peer reviewer (e.g., student colleague) or any outside committee member reviewed the raw data, a label with a pseudonym was placed on students names. Not only did students provide reaction papers but I maintained notes of my observations of students reactions, including class dialogue, comments, and
85 questions. Since I have a hearing disability, a tape recorder assisted in capturing dialogue during the study (e.g., used as back-up support). Consequently, email correspondence and phone conversations held during off hours were noted if relevant to the study. Approximately nine and ten weeks into the course, the students performed two spontaneous cold writing sessions to examine explicit memory. When the students arrived to class, they were asked to produce a clean sheet of paper and list either a) every topic discussed in cl ass or b) whom they shared information with concerning the course and which t opics were shared. The session was timed for approximately five minutes. At the end of the session, the students were asked to review their lists and look for shared qualities between the topics. They assisted in establishing a list of categories (per their review) and a discussion ensued. A concept map was created on the board for all to view. An Environmental Science Class Inventory is a survey-like snapshot describing demographics, attitudes and beliefs of the non-science majors enrolled in the study. The students were a sked to recall their opinion of specific elements in the beginning and at the end of the course, preferred method of course delivery, voting intentions, and comfort level concerning past class discussions. The inventory was administe red to the class during the eleventh week of the quarter. A copy of the inventory is provided in Appendix C. Data Analysis Like musical compositions conv eying thematic undertones within the
86 movements, descriptive data carri es an underlying structure awaiting classification. In thematic analysis, s pecific patterns are identified and placed with corresponding patterns (Aronson, 1994). Themes in qualitative research may be described as patterns found in information that describe and organize possible observations or possibly interpret aspects of the phenomenon (Boyatzis, 1998). Themes may be outwardly observed or latent. Boyatzis (1998) states themes may be initially generated inducti vely from the raw information or generated deductively from theory and prior research. Following the phenomenological aspects described by Creswell (2000) and Pollio (Pollio, Henley, & Thompson, 1997), I read the reaction papers and extracted significant statements focusi ng not only on meaning units but a sense of whole (hermeneutic analysis). Th is procedure was performed repeatedly on the reaction papers until saturation occurr ed. These coding statements were grouped to form initial themes and late r developed through selected quotations and narrative format (Spiggle, 1994). Simila rly, the lists produced during the cold writing exercises were discriminated, extracted and categorized to create a theme, as presented through selected exam ples. Categories from the reaction papers were revisited and data were analyzed for possible new categories and relationships (Merriam, 1998). Refining of categories continued until saturation occurred. The reaction papers and cold writing exercises were triangulated with the observational field notes and environmental science inventory. This convergence
87 among multiple and different sources assisted in dependability and confirmation of the data (Creswell, 2000). The systematic sorting through data to find common themes and categories not only supported data, but brought contradictions to light. Contradictions and anomalies are important indicators of the complexities associated with phenomena. Richardson (2000) refers to this as crystallization since there are more than three sides from which to approach the world. Graphical representations (e.g., bar graphs, pie charts) were created to provide a pictorial snapshot of the resu lts. Patterns and themes revealed in students responses were used to create a concept map to assist in developing theory. Ensuring Credibility and Confirmability To ensure the credibility, a fellow science education doctoral colleague performed a peer examination of my logic path toward interpreting reaction papers, cold writing exercises, Envi ronmental Science Inventory, and observational field notes. The doctora l colleague signed a form attesting to her capacities in the study (Janesick, 2004). In addition, my major professor and committee members were consulted concerning the findings. A copy of the doctoral colleagues attestation is provided in Appendix D. A descriptive research study, like good blues, needs a passionate cry for honesty, lyrical realism charged with taut sensibility, and underlying optimism of hope (Oliver, 1994). As in music, the art of dance can be used to demonstrate
88 the need for honesty involved in qualitative research, as follows: Qualitative researchers have an obligation to fully describe theoretical postures at all st ages of the research process, just as the choreographer fully describes and explains each component of a dance plan. As a choreographer, I was always looking for the asymmetrical movement in order to tell the story in some kind of symmetry. (Janesick, 2004, p. 8) Honesty is important in a descriptive research study because, in my case, I am using the self as an instrument (Eisner, 1990). Eisner (1990) notes: researchers must give some frame of reference and some set of intentions.this is done most often without the aid of observation schedule; it is not a matter of checking behaviors, but rather of perceiving their presence and interpreting their significance. (p. 34) Since I was the research instrument in my dissertation study, I am providing my viewpoint as the researchers lens. Creswell (2000) states when a researcher refers to lens, it mean the inquirer uses a viewpoint for establishing validity in a study. By creating a lens showing the role of a researcher, a narrative account is established to incorporate this reflexivity. The Role and Lens of the Researcher In the research study, I was both the instructor of the undergraduate environmental science course and the resear cher. As a researcher, I was the instrument for data collection, analysis, and synthesis. As instructor, I was the one who purposefully embedded controversial issues into the course, thus, my perspective influenced class lectures, the interactions with students participants, and research observations. My unique background is important to establish the context for the reader. I was bot h an environmental professional and an
89 educator. My real-life experiences as a scientist working with governmental bureaucracies and oil corporations was a source for the personal vignettes I delivered in class lectures, offering an authenticity to my work. Exceptional to the field of science education and science education research, I have over 20 years of prof essional experience in the field of environmental science. I entered college in 1979 at the age of 16 and in 1983 earned a Bachelor of Science degree in En vironmental Science at the age of 20. I was usually the token female student in class at Florida Institute of Technology and later became the token female working in a mans field. I am intimately familiar with the inequalities, su ch as the lack of professional respect and pay discrimination, working in a male -dominated science world. I worked in multiple settings from employment as a chemist in a laboratory, to field supervision with mobile drill rigs, to senior level project management in environmental engineering firms. After specializing in petroleum and hazardous waste cleanup and working in the environmental field for several years, I pursued a Masters degree in Toxicology at Universi ty of South Florida. The decision to pursue the degree was influenced by the death of my father, who had succumbed to an occupational illness related to his work in the plastics industry. I later became Vice-president of a financial firm that loaned money to environmental firms for petroleum cleanup. One may wonder, Why is a trained environmental scientist working toward a doctoral degree in science education? My desire to teach and work in
90 the field of education goes back to 1984 when I taught English as a Second Language in Caracas, Venezuela. St udents ages ranged between eight and 13 years old, providing my first experience dealing with children. After I returned to the United States, entered the work force, and later left for graduate school at Florida Institute of Technology, I remembered the pleasure I found in teaching. I changed my graduate degree from Environmental Science to Science Education, transferring to Florida International Univer sity to earn a Masters of Science in Science EducationChemistry Specialty. This was the first step in my formal teaching/learning of science. While putting myself through graduate school, I taught chemistry laboratory classes at a community college and gave private English lessons to Spanish-speaking women. My pursuit of the teaching field came to a halt after interning in Killian High School in Miami, where teaching left a bad taste. I vowed that I would nev er teach children in the United States because of their disrespect and behavioral problems. If I were to teach again, it would have to be in an adult setting. Since April 2005, I have been teaching environmental science as an adjunct at a local college for five quarters. In 2002, while still working full-time as an executive for a financial company, I finally embarked upon my doctoral degree in Science Education. This enabled me to further my understanding of the research underlying science education. The idea of science education as a research endeavor appealed to the scientist in me. Also, the intera ctions of science, technology, and society (STS) presented a context for my growi ng interest in morality, ethics, and
91 altruism. After entering my forties, I experienced an awakening to the world of charitable endeavors, an awareness of the use and abuse of politics in society, and the need for a voice for those without one. Even though I have always been politically middle-of-the-road to liberal, I f ound myself drawn into political activism as a necessary pursuit to change the world and fight for the oppressed. I do not have children and felt that it was my societal duty to educate the public, enlighten college students about the wonders of science, and bring awareness of the plight of social injustices. Out of a practical and financial necessity I am selfemployed as an environmental scientist. My life pleasures are derived from my avocations, including college teaching, f ilming oral histories of women and the elderly, and producing and hosting a public access television show. The public access television show addresses a femini st perspective on current events and politics, but also promotes causes and non-profit charities. This perceptual screen, as derived through my professional work, formal education about teaching science, and my avocations, influenced my research. Institutional Review Board I have completed the Human Participants Protection Education for Research Teams online course by the National Institutes of Health. In accordance with the Institutional Review B oard (IRB), I submitted my application, Adult Informed Consent form, and Environmental Science Inventory. In addition, I submitted a letter of support from the co llege where the study was performed. I received Expedited Approval for IRB #104800 on July 11, 2006. A copy of the
92 Adult Informed Consent form is presented in Appendix E Students enrolled in the environmental science course were considered the participants in the study. The participants (adult students enrolled in an environmental science course) who pr epared reaction papers, performed the cold writing exercises, and submitted t he Environmental Science Inventory were given a consent form. The consent form described the study, including the risks and benefits of participation. Participant s who signed the form approved the use of their descriptive data in the study. Pa rticipants did have the option to refuse to sign the form without penalty. The descriptive data, as well as the consent forms, are available upon request to IRB reviewers of the study. Confidentiality of the participants was maintained to the best of my ability. Ethical Considerations During the study period, I collected reaction papers from students yielding personal information and thoughts. Conser vations held during classroom time and off hours (e.g., telephone conversations) were observed and noted. Information exchanged between students and I was kept confidential throughout the study. Pseudonyms were used in the narratives and dialogue descriptions. I was sensitive to ethical considerat ions regarding students revelations of information deemed harmful or unlawful in nature (e.g., drug activity, physical abuse, suicidal thoughts). Fortunately, this type of situation did not arise. If it had, I would have consulted with my major advisor, school authorities, and
93 possibly law enforcement officials if deemed necessary (i.e., endangerment). Summary To ensure the credibility of the disse rtation study, I researched qualitative methods and consulted with experts in the field. I described the research study involving the environmental science course I teach in detail and I have disclosed my background and beliefs with candidness and honesty. To assist with crystallization, I derived data from students responses (e.g., reaction papers, cold writing exercises, and environmental science inventory), observational field notes, and had a science education student colleague provide a peer review.
94 Chapter FourPresentation of the Data Introduction Data from each student was analyzed in an attempt to reveal his or her responses to the use of controversial issues in the classroom. The data were analyzed to manifest students lived ex perience in the environmental science classroom. The richness of the data gathered through students reaction papers, cold writing exercises, and field observa tions crystallized with the results of the environmental science inventory. The research question posed was, How do the students respond to controversial issues embedded in the curriculum of an undergraduate environmental science course consist ent with the science education reform movement? Subquestions (SQ) emerged as data were collected and analyzed: Which features of controversial issues triggered responses? [SQ1] Were there signs of attitudinal changes and positive environmental actions? [SQ2] Were there any signs of skepticism and reflective thinking? [SQ3] Did generations react differently? [SQ4] The research question and subquestions are addressed in each section of Chapter Four. Students responses to cont roversial issues in the classroom are discussed as follows: expression of cogni tive dissonance, reactions to justice
95 issues, signs of skepticism and reflective thinking, and conservatism in the classroom. Students attitude and behavio ral changes during the course are addressed. Students sharing class discu ssions with family and friends emerged as a popular theme and are further exami ned. Students reactions to me, as a person and instructor, are discussed. Students response to the implemented instructional methods, including class discussions and group activities are reviewed. The generational responses of the course are examined. Although not a formal research question, a r epetitious theme emerged worthy of discussion: provocation of student intere st in environmental science. Students interest in environmental issues related to their personal lives and responses to new information are reviewed. Demographic Overview of Students The environmental science inventory offered a snapshot of the students who participated in the inventory during the Summer Quarter 2006. During the 12-week period, 66 students were enrolled for which 79 percent were females and 21 percent were males. The generat ion makeup was 35 percent Millennials, 51 percent Generation Xers, and 14 percent Baby Boomers. The years since the students studied science are presented as follows: zero to five years (35 percent), six to 10 years (24 percent), 11 to 20 years (30 percent) and greater than 20 years (11 percent). Participants were enrolled in various areas of study, including paralegal (35 percent), criminal justice (32 percent), business/marketing (12 percent), and accounting (11 percent ). Frequency data depicted in tables
96 and charts are presented in Appendix F. Responses to Controversial Issues in the Classroom This section describes the results of Subquestions [SQ1 and SQ3]. The influence of cognitive dissonance and the elements of a controversial issue (i.e. justice) are discussed. Emerging signs of students skepticism and reflective thinking are reviewed. The conservative students who resisted reflective thinking are evaluated. According to the results of the research, students responded to controversial issues that were central to justice. In other words, students showed reflections of cognitive dissonance or disturbances when exposed to cases of injustice or unfairness to vulnerable parties. The dissonance agitates their ingrained value systems. Most students self-reported feelings of disturbance and responded to the revelations of bioethica l controversies and science atrocities showing dissonance, emotion, and shock. However, some students appeared cold or unresponsive to classroom discussions. These students occasionally winced during politically-charged discussions and requested that the class stick to science and not politics. Their dissonance, if any, appeared toward the presence of Bush-bashing and not the sci ence atrocities and bioethical issues discussed in class. Cognitive Dissonance Responses. The use of controversial issues in the classroom prompted cognitive dissonance wit hin the students. These responses ranged from mild disbelief to shock (both reported by 41 percent of the students),
97 an expression of cognitive dissonance. T he topics of discussion, which consist of sensory input, triggered various emotions including empathy and anger. As empirically shown in animal and human studies, Information from sensory systems trace two pathways: the amy gdala (emotional arousal) and cognitive pathway (hippocampus) (Fried et al., 2001). Models showing the Use of Controversial Issues in the Classroom Model are presented in Figures 2a and 2b. Not only did students show signs of cognitive dissonance, but light was shed on the elements necessary for an issue to be controversial according to students. Throughout the course, contro versial issues were introduced in an open discussion forum held the first 45 minutes of instructor lecture. According to the Environmental Science Inventory, 61 percent of the students were aware that environmental science contains cont roversy and 42 percent of the students were aware of the connection between politics and environmental science. Newspaper articles or real-life scenarios wit h moral or ethical implications were presented to students as part of the lect ure throughout the environmental science course. Analysis of the reaction paper s showed certain topics surfacing and resurfacing, as students described their disturbance to the issues presented. Students commonly discussed the following scenarios:
98 Figure 2a. Use of controversial issues in classroom model showing elements of a controversial issue
99 Figure 2b. Use of controversial issues in classroom model showing emotional pathways
100 The Stuckeys scenarioA benzene contaminated potable well is located at a former Stuckeys restaurant/gas station. The rear of the restaurant had been converted to low-income apartment housing. Until I formerly complained, the potable well had not been sampled for the last three years. The state-designated envir onmental agency will not treat the potable well, which is used for patrons of the restaurant and the apartment tenants, because the benzene levels (0 .25 micrograms per liter) do not exceed the state drinking water standar ds (1 micrograms per liter). Benzene is a Class A carcinogen and the government is refusing to treat the contaminated water as a precautionary measure. The CHEERS pesticide studyThe study entitled Childrens Environmental Exposure Research St udy (CHEERS) offered 60 families located in a low SES area of Jacksonville, Florida $970, a free camcorder, T-shirt, and framed certific ate of appreciation for using their children in a pesticide study. The study sponsored by the EPA and the American Chemistry Council, studied how chemicals can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed by children rangi ng from babies to 3 years old. Hiroshima and NagasakiThe events of August 6 and August 9, 1945 were recapped, focusing on ethical aspects. The effects of radiation in humans and the environment were examined. Depleted uranium and white phosphor usThe use of weapons of mass destruction and the resulting health effects were examined.
101 The Brooksville Public Works contaminated siteFor approximately 45 years, arsenic, benzene, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons have contaminated the soil and groundwater at the county owned and operated site facility. The facility borders the backyards of an African-American neighborhood, whose residents have suffered health effects (i.e., miscarriages) possibly related to environmental effects. Students reaction papers described thei r dismay in the government, the shock that children were used as guinea pigs in studies, and the connection between greed and profit concerning the abuse of societys underprivileged. Their value systems were agitated and feelings of dissonance were expressed. A young female student named Mandy be lieved the poor were taken advantage of and understood the potential health risks behind the CHEERS study. She is a serious student, very quiet in class, and enjoyed expressing her thoughts in the reaction papers. She expressed her concerns as follows: I found the article in St Pete Time s to be very disturbing. I cant believe that the EPA and government would actually do anything that would put childrens health at risk. I think there are two reasons why they went to the poor. The first reason is because they think they are so desperate for money and will do anything, even harming their own children. The second reason is they are less educated and they dont know about pesticides and how harmful it could be to children because their immune system is not as strong as an adult. I dont have any children but if I did, I would never put their lives in harms way now matter how poor I was! One student named Shaneka described her distress concerning the CHEERS study and wrote her reaction about the topic on several occasions. Her words were very emotional. Shaneka is a mother, an animal lover, and
102 evangelical. For her term paper assignment, she described the plight of the western wild mustangs, which are being slaughtered for their meat. We talked in class last week about how a mother would allow her children to be the guinea pigs for science. I think it is a downright disgrace. I would never in a million years put my child through such a thing. To think some of the class was for it! Theres not enough money in the world that would make me put my child through so much agony. Love is deeper than that for me, especially when it comes to my children. I just want to say that killing innocent creatures is a vicious and horrible thing to do. I think that for someone who would do such a thing should be punished the same way as a person who kills another person. For someone to do something that he has to be a coward! Sick in the head! Just downright evil! If God created the earth, didnt he also create the people as well as the animals? Whatever happened to Thou shall not kill? During the course, Shaneka described feelings of dissonance when she wrote about her irritation with a fellow student in class. Robin, a boisterous thirtysomething female student, interjected her opinions on a weekly basis. She stated, Sometimes sacrifice is necessa ry for the good of all and As inhumane as it appears, we learn from these ex periments. Robin will be discussed further in Chapter Fours Conservatism in the Classroom Similarities between her comments and those of ex-military student s were observed during the class discussions. Shaneka noticed and acknowledged the coldness in Robins contributions to the discussions. She wrote in a reaction paper: Theres one person in our class that just really irritates the hell out of me! She sits in the back. She comes off as if she has no emotions or concern about anybody s life, even children. Like many of the students, Teresa, a single mother with two children,
103 directed her reactions concerning the pesti cide study toward frustrations with the government. Her sentiments are expressed as follows: My biggest reaction to class was the study being done in Jacksonville involving the effects of pesticides on children. I bet this was the thing that got everyone. I bet that was your intention. It is very disturbi ng that the government, who is supposed to protect us, is involved in putting our children at such risk so intentionally and in a way that takes advantage of low income people. They are offering more than a hell of a lot of money, which can make a real difference in their lives. The difference between tightening your belt, or having a good meal to give to your children, paying your rent or being evicted. Its so disappointing that with all the wonderful capabilities of this country we stoop so low. A similar opinion arose from a male student in his mid-thirties named John. John is following in his mothers footsteps by studying to be a medical records assistant, after trying a stint in c hef school. He was very articulate in class and a straight A student. He wrote: I found our first class discussion to be quite interesting and thought provoking. I am deeply sadden and disturbed to continue to hear incessantly of many company s disregard for the environment and the many loopholes they find by lobbying on Capitol Hill to sympathetic politicians. Harry, a Baby Boomer student, is in his mid-fifties, served in the U.S. Navy, and is seeking a college education for employment purposes. He has been working part-time in retail to make ends meet, even though he is a trained mechanic. He was very vocal during class discussions and harbored deep distrust of the government. He wrot e a paper on solid waste disposal and recycling in harsh environments based on his living experiences in Antarctica. His disdain for the government and flare for wit are expressed as follows:
104 If ethics or the lack of ethical val ues are involved in the testing, there are two groups of animals that should be involved before using true lab rats. These two species occupy both the legislative and executive branches of our gov ernment. The President and both houses of congress make perfect lab rats. Being devoid of any ethics, or generally any human emotion, as t hey look after their own welfare and being, I cant think of a better choice. Harry shared his personal insight about the use of human experimentation and the lack of informed consent this way: Even though prisoners were mentioned in testing chemicals, you should not forget that the larges t group of human lab animals were the United States military. During the early and mid-fifties, my father, on at least two occasions, was told to stand in a trench and duck when told so. A few minutes later, a nuclear bomb was detonated just a few miles away. At his house in California, he still has a few pictures of the blast and the mushroom clouds. The central assumption of cognitive dissonance is human beings cannot tolerate inconsistency, trying to elim inate or reduce it (Zimbardo & Ebbesen, 1969). If something does not sit well with a person and dissonance occurs, a motivation within the person pushes its reduction through self-rationalization or overt demonstration against the dissonance (i.e., actions). One bright student Kelly wrote justification of the human experimentation on orphans in the 1950s, by explaining the children were owned by the state. Kelly uses the word Sassy in her email address, which clearly describes her vibrant personality. In her own mind, her explanation may be the only way she can accept the facts: The testing of orphan children in the 50s and 60sback when children were awarded to the states and became orphans, I believe that the State felt that these children belonged to them. So they felt they had no one to answer to by having testing done on these children. Since these children belonged to the state, they would not have to get permission or make sure the children understood what was being done
105 and why. Over the years I have read stories and articles on horrible things done to orphans, like chemicals, radiation, and electrons to the brain. No one knew bout these and no one tried to stop it. Who did you go to? The states felt they owned these children and they could do as they pleased. Actually many students echoed the sentim ent that money is the root or motive behind human testing. Lisa, a bright student in her mid-twenties, expressed a common sentiment among students, spelling it out in simple terms, To me it is a shame that money holds so much power in this world! It makes me sick the way the government works to gi ve people money and stuff to put their kids in danger. Lisa wrote strong reac tions on her disgust with the government and how paranoid she was after hearing about food safety issues. One forty-something student named Liz, often spoke of sharing class discussions with her college-age daughter after each class. She is divorced and trying to earn an accounting degree to gain financial independence. She described her feelings about the government in detail: I feel angered that our government does not want us to hear about whats going in other countries so they dont have to admit whats going on in our own. The testing they do on our own citizens is just as bad as some of the things that are done in other countries that they want to punish. Its like they feel our own are disposable. A disposable society. As long as they are alive to reap the monetary benefits today, who cares about what happens to future generations? Its a government run by greed. Terri is a well-dressed, career girl who worked for several years before deciding to attend college. Her parents are prosperous farmers and she was raised with evangelical values. Her reaction papers often described her growing uneasiness with the course discussions and a questioning of societal ethics.
106 Terris emotions about the Brooksville contamination site were apparent: After reading the article on Toxic Indifference I find it absolutely amazing how governments, counties, and states can turn their heads and pass things like this off. It just seems like no one wanted to take responsibility and they hid behind Oh, I thought they were taking care of it. People see right through peopl e that play the dumb card. These county representatives have lied, hid, ignored, covered-up (you get my point) the REAL dangers and have harmed a lot of innocent people. And for what? To save money? To be lazy? To hid their ignorance after so many years? Its like when you tell a lie, the longer it goes on, the more severe the punishment and humiliation is going to be once the truth is revealed. I believe they saw this and started finding ways to protect themselves from exposure and humiliation. Now finally later all these years, they dont only look badthey are murderers. Killers of peoples rights to be informed and protected. Killers of their ri ght to freedom and live in a country where they are told the truth. Residents have been lied to, played with, put in harms way, shoved to the side and have been invisible to these state and country representatives. I can only imagine what these people have been through and the evil they know is out there. I have a hard time stomaching the reality to tell y ou the truthand I only know what I read. Im sure if they told me their entire life-long experiences first hand, Id break down and cry. Hell, I probably wouldnt sleep for weeks. Its so sad that in this world people arent treated as equals. In Gods eyes, we are all equals. He loves us all the same, no matter what the sin. I believe God rewards and punishes us for our actions. I have to remind myself before I get all pissed off about this, that God doesnt let people like that sleep well at night. Students Responses to Issues of Justice. S tudents responses to controversial issues discussed in the environmental course showed degrees of cognitive dissonance related to injustice. Reflections of dissonance were described through classroom observations reaction papers, and cold writing exercises. For an issue to be deemed cont roversial, elements of injustice and/or inequality were essential. The students were disturbed by the intentional
107 experimentation with vulnerable populat ions (e.g., children, animals, poor/homeless) for the purpose of greed. Students were affected by the neglect or the intentional inaction of the gover nment to treat contaminated groundwater. Students recognized the cases discussed in class were real and located in their hometown. A student wrote, I am now worried about the purity of water we are drinking. I wonder if the potable water our community uses is good enough to drink without getting sick? Students proposed punishment as a solution for described injustices, stemming from cognitive dissonance and the need for equilibrium. Many recommended that victims of injust ice seek lawsuits and monetary compensation. John, the medical a ssistant student, frequently recommended strong punitive measures as retribution. Most of his opinions were strong and definitive: The doctor hired by Johnson & Johnson after retracting articles written falsely is disgusting! He should have been sued and tried as a criminal. Johnson & Johnson should be held accountable legally for hiring a criminal and their products should be boycotted. The homeless people in St. Pete hired to remove asbestos from a condemned building should all take on the city for damages. The woman should be sued and the direct individuals involved should face criminal charges. Susan, a mother of two young children, is a female student in her latetwenties. She moonlights at a local hotel when she is not in school. Her reaction paper revealed a similar sentiment: Quaker Oats and MIT should face heavy monetary damages to the orphans experimented on wit h radiation that are still living. Big
108 companies and higher learning institutions should be held accountable for damages during a time when there were no laws to protect these people from exploitation. I say this because it is a principal involved and any amount of money is secondary to the deliberate loss of human life. The students were very sympathetic because the victims of injustice were vulnerable populations: children, anima ls and the poor. Many felt these populations were uninformed and deliberatel y targeted for capital gain. They accused politicians and the government as the driving force behind the environmental controversies. Lisa is in her mid-twenties attends college during the day and bartends in the evening. She appeared to be well-r ead on current events and frequently contributed to class discussions. She has a soft-spot for pets and all living creatures, boasting she owns three dogs, two cats, hamsters, and fish. She wrote: About StuckeysHonestly, I believe that is inhumane what they are doing to innocent people. The tenants are low income families. They should have the right to know. During the discussions of using vulnerable populations for bioethical studies, there were a couple of students who suggested using prisoners. I explained prisoners were considered a vul nerable population by definition and in the past and they were used to study the effects of carcinogens, such as radiation. Mary, a criminology student in her mid-thirties, offered this opinion: The question was asked, How do you feel about the government allowing certain corporations to use prisoners to be experimented on in testing chemicals? I feel that there is no problem as long as there are ethics involved. The prisoners have a right to
109 know exactly what they are getti ng into including before, during, and after. Jawanda, a female student in her midforties, is raising her daughters grandchild. She is studying to be a medical assistant and often shares class discussions with her husband. She explai ned her philosophy concerning the root of the problem. The theme of governm ent institutions and politics surfaced: Greedy businessmen and politicians of both parties have impeded cleaning the environment in the name of the almighty dollar. We must rise up as our fore-fathers and before us to ring in justice for all across this great land. John, the medical assistant studen t, explained his philosophy that ecotourism caters to upper socioec onomic groups, defeating the purpose of environmental education. He not ed the class discrimination: Theoretically, ecotourism is great, but when it caters to only the upper echelon of society, and t he members of the upper echelon are trampling down on plants, it defeats the purpose of trying to education people about environmentally-s ound living. In addition, this form of tourism should be affordable and attainable by everyone. Myra, a female student in her early-f orties, brought her nature-loving spirit to class during the discussions. She appeared to be a true earth mother and wrote her term paper on the decline of Druidi sm in Celtic society. She often spoke up in class with anger and determinism, apologizing after for voicing her opinion. Myra had this to say about the first chapter of the textbook which tells the saga of Easter Island: The classroom discussion and Chapter One seem to have the same theme: ignorance and arrogance. Until people truly care about and know about what is going on around them, we
110 are doomed to repeat history. W hen politicians finally get off their soap boxes and immerse themselves into the working part of society and when the working part of society stops making excuses for themselves, then will there be a time we will be about to work toward a sustainable society. Another ongoing controversial topic in the course was one citizens right to put in a plastic lawn in his front ya rd. The cost was approximately $15,000 and the man received notoriety after he was conf ronted by the authorities. The use of non-herbaceous material, such as a plastic lawn with a mesh base, is against the City Code for lawn coverings. Even though no emotional or bioethical issues were tied to this issue, it hit a chord with the majority of students. Many felt this was a case of injustice based on absence of freedom, inasmuch the lawn was actually an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional sod. Mandy, a Millennial, and John, a Generation Xer, commented on the absence of personal freedom regarding the owner of the plastic lawn: I dont think it should be any of the citys business whether or not he has fake or real grass if he is paying for itjust as long it isnt an eyesore. I think that this man should get to do whatever he wants with his property. The government is getting way controlling on telling people what is and is not allowed on their own land and their own property. Terri described a contrary opinion. She lives in a deed-restricted neighborhood and relishes the idea of having lim its on property use. She stated the following: Regarding the guy with the plastic lawn, I live in a deed-restricted area and the neighborhood is absolutely beautiful. No ones car is upon blocks in their driveways, their yards are alive and beautiful and there are no childs toys on the front lawn. I appreciate deed
111 restrictions because it adds value to your house. If this guys gets away with the plastic lawn, this will cause a chain reaction and the neighborhood will probably go to pot. If I lived in his neighborhood, I wouldnt complain about his yard, but if it came a neighborhood issue and we had to vote, I would vote with the opposing side. Students Emerging Skepticism and Reflective Thinking. T he students began writing about how they were beginning to reflect upon the lectures and the class discussions as the course progress ed. They began to question their long held beliefs and thinking patterns as skepticism surfaced. They desired to assess available information and seek its s ource, prior to forming an opinion. Students showed in their writings they we re not accepting printed information at face value. They began to fit the informa tion presented in class with their prior schema to develop newly formed opinions. A few students asked philosophical questions and pondered the future of the environment with the political status quo of the United States. Terri is a middle class female student in her mid-thirties studying in college after years in the workforce. She is proud of her Christian heritage, Republican background, and charitable work. She has tree-hugging friends and admittedly knew little of environmental science: This is going to be a complete learning experience for me, because Im not current on many of the environmental issues today. I know that the Earth is hotter causing the hurricanes to be stronger and more dangerous. I know very little about the popular issues that we face year after year here in Florida and globally, Im ignorant. During the course, Terri wrote very detailed reaction papers and emailed them to me immediately after class. She described how she could not wait to go
112 home to tell her boyfriend all she learned in class that evening. As the term progressed, she expressed great interest and a refreshing curiosity regarding the topics discussed in class. She followed up on the class discussions by verifying information on her own. Kelly is in her late twenties and is outspoken about her views on drilling in Alaska. She wrote a term paper on the oil companies neglect of pipeline maintenance and the unpublicized spills that occur regularly in Alaska. Kelly, like many of students enrolled in the course, juggles work, child-raising, and college attendance. After I discussed the effect s of depleted uranium during the Gulf War and current conflicts, she wrote thes e comments in her reaction paper: The whole situation makes me leery of anything that the government has to say and makes it harder to choose who to vote for in the elections. It is amazing that one country can have so many professional liars and we actually pay them to do so. Just to give you a little insight, my brother was in Iraq twice and is now complaining of pain in his back, legs, and headaches. Of course, the doctors have no idea what is going on. He just takes his 800 mg ibuprofen and his flexural and goes on probably happier in his ignorance to the fact that he is dealing with the governments blindfolded opinion that nothing over there could have done this to him. The insight you gave today was very valuable and hit home. Thank you so much. The discussions of both Agent Orange and depleted uranium appeared to connect students on a personal level. Students either knew friends or had relatives who were affected by undiagnosed ailments caused by possible chemical exposures during their militar y deployments. These discussions were sensitive and possibly difficult for students to hear due to the current conflicts in the Middle East. At the time of t he study, the United States occupied
113 Afghanistan and Iraq and Israel was involved in a conflict with Lebanon. Terri, who is a registered Republican and voted for George Bush, who wrote a very passionate reflection: Im so sad for the soldiers that are suffering from DU. Im also sad for their families because they see their loved ones in such pain and cant do anything to help them. This is the worlds largest tragedy in my eyes (youre probably thinking that I dont know the half of it, right). These men deserve to play with their children outside and live active, health lives. I wish all of the truths about our troops exposure to harmful chemicals would be front page news and top stories for national news stations. This country is killing the very people who are sacrificing their lives to protect it. Our troops love this country but this country does not love them! My sister is my best friend and I watch her get so pissed off at the VA Hospital doctors when her husband, who is as veteran of the Gulf War, is ignored, mistreated, and shoved aside when he goes for treatment for his pain. To this day, he has not gotten an explanation or diagnosis for all the pain hes in. He is 34 and he walks like hes 80. I am very sensitive to this. I was just talking about this todayI believe that if you fight in a war, you shouldnt have to ever pay taxes againever! I think its the least this country should do! Continuing with the war and environm ental exposure theme in the classroom, Terri wrote about the mora l implications behind the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. The majority of the students, like Terri, had not been taught in high school t he full implications of the bombing event and the number of casualties that resulted. Terri wrote: The statistics of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devastating! I had no idea so many people lost their lives. Its sad they do not teach high school students about this. They may teach them about the event, but the number of deaths is left out. I know I would have remembered something as sad as this if it was part of the lesson back then. I remember finding out about Vietnam and I wont ever forget that. How sad! I do
114 believe and agree with the majority of the class that the U.S. Military was too quick to drop their new toy. Were supposed to be a county that is known for our morals and judgmentwhy would we have dropped this bomb if we were using our morals and judgment? And to drop the second bomb? Now, were just showing off. When you told me that we were the only country that has ever nuked anyone, I about fell out of my chair! I didnt know this. I know nuclear bombs are a huge threat to the world and to find out that we are the only ones whove ever used this type of weaponry is amazing. Terri continued to explore informa tion outside of the classroom and develop reflective thinking skills. After the first class, she emailed questions and comments to me about the lecture. S he said that she was taping a special on global warming on the Discovery Channel and intended to see An Inconvenient Truth at the movie theater Terri was the only student during the quarter who viewed the film before it left town. She shared the experience with her boyfriend and could not wait to writ e her paper on the extinction of polar bears. During one of the class breaks early in the quarter, she told me that she voted for George W. Bush during the 2004 election because, My parents told me to vote for him and because, well, we are Christian. I asked her to keep an open mind during the course. As we delved deeper into global warming and I distributed a hand-out of the voting reco rds of our state congress and senate representatives, she wrote this: The review of the House and Senate voting, really, really, really opened my eyes. I think its time for me to get involved in my voting and do some in-depth research bef ore I choose another president for this country. I can no longer hold my head up high as a Republican after all that GWB has done. He has put this country
115 in a bad place, in more sense than just the environment. The more I know about the Bush administration the more I question whats important to me. Ive lost respect for him, thats for sureall republicans for that matter because their votes show that theyre uninterested in the environment. Ive learned a valuable lesson here about my voting and values and what I will look for in future candidates. She continued her discussion about learning and analyzing the lecture material, as follows: The Environmental Scares we discussed really opened my eyes to the seriousness of the mistakes some people make when taking their findings to the public. It seems that some people didnt do all the tests or get all the pr ofit they needed to determine their findings. Then of course when the media gets a hold of this information, the whole world goes crazy. But it makes me feel safe to know there are people out there doing research on new medications and pesticides and looking at some of these new developments with skepticism. Its not my practice to question everything, but it could pay off if I did question some things. Tamara, an astute female student in her early twenties, makes Deans List every quarter. She displayed an interesting view on the health risks of Teflon, especially birds. Dow Chemicals websit e warns consumers not to keep birds in a kitchen due to the possibility of toxic fu mes affecting the birds health. She reflected on her bird that passed away: Now that I think about it, I had a bird that was in a cage about 12 feet away from my kitchen. My bird died about 6 months after my Mom had bought a new Teflon pot and pan set. My bird has been in our family for 12 years but now Im reconsidering the cause of death. Maybe it was the Teflon. I know that Ive eaten out of a Teflon pan, especially eggs and I never thought it could harm me but that will change. Joey is a young, African-American ma le student, who literally, by selfadmission, grew up on the streets. The environmental science class was his
116 first college course he had ever taken and he bears great pride when saying, Ms. Tabone, I want to make something of myself. I am so happy that I got into college. During a class break, he told me The stuff you are telling us in class is blowing my mind! I never thought about any of these things before! Joey wrote in his reaction paper: I also wanted to let you know that I really like being in your class and everything because a lot of this stuff that we are doing in class and talking about, we wouldnt ever know or think about. Some students wrote that they are attemp ting to filter out facts from fiction regarding the news in the media. Their wr itings are showing signs of increased skepticism and the ability to form selfgenerated opinions based on cognition. The media, as well as the United States Government, are considered authoritative figures. The questioning of motives and bias underlying reporting and governmental actions are steps toward re flective thinking. Tamara wrote her reaction about government and corporations: The Government and the companies must not be thinking about the effect the chemicals have on the children. We need to be more aware as consumers of whats going on in society concerning the environment. The media hype is misinforming us on stuff that can or cannot hurt us. Samantha, a student in her early -twenties changed her major from criminology to environmental science after taking the course. She never missed class and participated in the field trip. She wrote about the need to objectively and critically examine facts: Other things that surprised me were not so much the environmental issues themselves but the way we are looking
117 at them objectively. People need to know what is happening in the world today. This is definitely not what I thought this class would be and I am happily surprised. Having knowledge about solid, historical, scientific facts is important so is the will to take action and awareness of our social and political environment. But we need to be able to use all of these things to make a difference and be useful. Kelly described her skepticism of the media and how people may be duped by sources: The way things are handled puts me in the mind of War of the World, when everyone was in a total panic over an alien attack. Just because one radio network played a mock invasion, no one actually saw the aliens. But people that were smarter and better informed than them said that they we re there. So, the aliens were invading. I am not sure that I will believe anything that they say in the future concerning what is good or bad for me. I think that I will just use my own judgment. It was gotten me through 28 years so far and I am sure Ive got a lot more to go. Students sometimes share common sense approaches and solutions for environmental problems. They seem to offe r insight on solving situations that the government has not attempted or appr oached. For example, when I was lecturing about the use of wind mills as an energy alternative, I explained although the method is very effective (e.g., the Netherlands for the last few hundred years), opponents consider the method an eyesore. I noted there is an abundance of wind in this country, nami ng examples like middle-America and Chicago, the Windy City. Kelly raised her hand and suggested, Why dont they put windmills in Chicago? I asked about the presence of high-rise buildings. She deftly replied, What about putting them on top of the rooftops?
118 I exclaimed, Wow! Thats a great idea! They would be out of the way and can provide electricity for the building it rests on. Kim, a divorced mother of two, missed a few classes because her apartment landlord evicted the family. During class breaks, she described her dysfunctional family and dealing with her ex-husband. Even though she had hardships, she was always enthusiastic in the discussions, quick to offer an opinion, and wrote detailed reaction papers. She wrote a paper about developers attempting to reduce manatees endangered species designation, writing the words Screw them! severa l times in the document. She commented about the governments lack of respons e in the Stuckeys contaminated groundwater case: I do not like the way the government is using our money not to sue towards making an apartment safer. They need to start running tests to make sure the water is safe to drink and take baths. If the water has 0.25 ug/L of benzene, they should go out and get bottled water for those apartments until they can fix the problem. Not all of the students in the cour se displayed emerging patterns of reflecting thinking. Some students held ti ghtly to their preconceived notions and appeared fearful of change. New ideas or departures from comfort zones (i.e., cognitive dissonance) made some st udents uncomfortable with adopting new thought patterns. Shaneka felt that a plastic lawn defied nature: Plastic grass is not a good idea to me because God did not create grass for nothing. Everyt hing is created for a reason. Niki, a student in her mid-twenties, and seven months pregnant with her
119 second child, finds it difficult to juggle a family, work, and school. She had been looking forward to taking the course because she had an interest in environmental science. Unfortunately, s he dropped the course in the middle of the quarter due to a difficult pregnancy. S he believes in the power of crystals and disagreed with my discussion of pseudoscience. She wrote this about politics and the environment: I really dont pay too much mind to anything dealing with the government. I live my life. If I dont worry about the governmental stuff, I will be less stressed and happier. Julie is a devoted mother and animal lover, and is proud of her poundadopted Doberman pinschers. She is very soft-spoken and a conscientious student. During the class discussions, she winced and appeared uncomfortable. She described discomfort concerning the discussion of politics in class, citing her husbands influence: Mondays class was very interesting, however, my participation for the extra credit movie (An In convenient Truth) will not exist. I hope another opportunity for extra credit will be available. I live with a Republican and Al Gore is a hot subject to bring up in my house. Global warming is a touchy subject. My husband believes in the notion that global warming is just a hoax drudged up by the Democratic party. I myself have to do some research on the subject but it is hard to believe the sources nowadays. Conservatism in the Classroom. Students with conservative beliefs showed an alternative response to controversial issues embedded in the curriculum. A minority of students resi sted attitudinal changes and reflective thinking. Their vision of the material di scussed in class reflected a classic belief in just world worldview. Three students in the course articulated mantras typical
120 of conservative talk radio. Robin, t he female student in her mid-thirties, was going through a messy divorce and had child custody issues. She appeared to have a chip on her shoulder and showed rudeness during class discussions, often making insulting comments under her breath. When the discussion concerning the Jacksonville pesticide study arose, she displayed a cavalier attitude, saying, These parents have choices. They didnt have to use their children in the studies. Oh, well. Sometimes there needs to be sacrifices for the good of all mankind. As inhuman as it appears, we (society) learn from these experiments! Robin was aware that students and I disagreed with most of her viewpoints. She wrote in her reaction paper, There doesnt seem to be a lot of tolerance for opposing views. Defenses go up and emotions are quickly engaged. Robin was very critical of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, saying, They should have left New Orleans and I blame the Mayor and Governor Blanco for the tragedy. During the class discussions, Robin often stated, I wish these people would quit whining. There are a bunch of whiners out there! Regarding pre-war intelligence and t he Iraq invasion, she wrote: Why is the President always the blame for war? As with all businesses, jobs are delegated, so the top is only as good as the information going up! Robin, as well as two ex-military ma le students, often debated issues concerning the invasion of Iraq, soldiers exposure to depleted uranium, and post-war health problems. The male st udents both stated the same sentiment as Robin, concerning war in general: sacrific e of a few is necessary for the good of
121 all. One male student Robby, a heavily tattooed and pierced ex-military student, stated, Hey, at least there have been a lot less casualties with this war as opposed to Vietnam. Its a job. They volunteered for service. Regarding soldiers exposure to depleted uranium and evidence of birth defects of their offspring, Robin wrote: Although it is unfortunat e that there are birth defects related to soldiers over in the war, there ar e times in life where choices never have a positive effect. Sometimes a few suffer for the good of many. Possible solutionfreeze sperm before deployment. John, the medical assistant student, prov ided his view of the Iraq invasion, offering these remarks: The War in Iraq is unfortunate but in my view we must protect ourselves from monsters like Saddam Hussein. Despite not having yet found WMDs, Saddam was very dangerous and still is from his prison cell. He must receive a death sentence to send a message to psychopaths in his part of the world I read a reaction paper from Ann, who is a mature student in her fifties who served in the military during the la te 1970s. She was extremely prejudiced and hostile against all Middle Easterners. Ann stated, I think Bush should have used WMDs, like white phosphorus, on all middle-eastern countries after 911 to get even. The topic of the current conflicts in the Middle East certainly stirred reactions! Julie, a self-described Democrat, appeared to be influenced by her Republican ex-military husband, who does not believe in global warming. She described the political talk in class as being too intense for me and again, I dont get into politics too much. Her husband worked on a naval submarine and
122 she discounted the discussions of depleted uranium in the class, My children were born with all of their fingers. She wished the class discussions adhered to environmental science and stated the following: I am a registered Democrat and I am really disappointed in the Partys actions within the last few years. I could not stand behind Kerry, a liar, and Edwards, who earned his money from frivolous lawsuits. My husband buys books like Unfit for Command and How to Talk to a Liberal. He is trying to get me to read these books but I dont have time. Have you ever read these books? I would like your input. Julie let her hair down, expressing her honesty in the Environmental Science Inventory. She found the discussions in class to be very uncomfortable, listing president bashing as her reason. She stated the environmental course reinforced my beliefs and asked If you are going to show a humorous video bashing one party, why not allow a movie bashing the other political party? Julie enjoyed writing the reaction papers as an outlet because it gives you a chance to vent without insulting classmates. She appeared very timid throughout the whole course and only expressed her inner self because of the reaction papers. Another student, Dawn, was very red-faced when she approached me during a class break. We had just discussed the Iraq conflict, Gulf War Syndrome, and the rising casualties of Ve teran illnesses and fatalities. Her eyes widened and lips pursed as she strained to hold back, I know you said the lecture today was particularly disturbing but Im a very opinionated person. I do not agree with everything you are saying this evening. I come from a long line of military veterans back to World War II.
123 I explained to Dawn, Please tell me w hat you think! Its OK! I respect your opinion and have great regard for all veterans. Why dont you at least write how you feel in the reaction paper? Dawn explained, I know you said to be honest but Im afraid you will hold it against me. I said, Please! I insist! I need you to be honest! Believe me, many in class are very honest. I need to know how you really feel. Dawn did not turn in a reaction paper that evening but she was honest in reporting her opinions in the Environmental Science Inventory. Although students do not place their names on t he inventories, I matched Dawns handwriting to a homework assignment. She wrote that she was very uncomfortable with the discussions and that a ll aspects affected her. She wrote: Your opinions need to be toned down. Too much influence on class discussion. Look at all the issue and all sides of the issue. Too far to the left! Dawn appeared to be in her late-thirties, like Julie, and she shared class discussions with her father. She had planned a three week vacation and I never saw her in class again. She had to take a make-up exam. Changing Attitudes about Environmental Science This section describes the results of Subquestion [SQ2]. Behavioral changes and activisim, students shari ng with outsiders, and their personal reactions to me are discussed. The environmental science course is required for all degree-seeking
124 majors at the college. For this reason, students enrolled in the course may not have had a prior interest in science. The Environmental Science Inventory showed that before the course was tak en, 50 percent of the students somewhat cared about the environment and 41 percent cared a lot about the environment. Before the course was taken, approximately 68 percent watched television programs related to science and the environment. At the end of the course, 47 percent of the students report ed maintaining some interest and 46 percent reported being very inte rested in the environment. Students described their past experiences in high school science courses as boring and anticipated a similar exper ience in the college course. Mature students had not taken a science courses in many years and expressed fear of failing the course. Students had low expectations on the first day of class. Students reported feeling pleasantly surp rised after hearing the introductory lecture, which included a historical overview of environmental scares. Lisa reported a favorable experience, although she admitted being paranoid about food: Today was our first day of environmental science class. I have to admit that I thought this woul d be one of the most boring classes but I actually found it to be quite st imulating. The whole mercury in fish and chemicals in food freaked me out but what got to me the most was the testing on rats. On the first day of class, Nita was f earful due to the title Environmental Science. Fortunately, her fears were quelled after the in-depth historical overview of environmental scares. She commented:
125 The first day of class is always exciting because I never know what to expect! Even more so with this classThe word science has a stigma in it to me. But you made the class very interesting. The sheet you gave us that had a list of topics was neat because a lot of the subjects I simply never knew about. The first one called the Cranberry Scare was interesting and Three Mile Island was good because you drew a picture of the nuclear core. Veronica reminded me that the class was on Monday mornings, which may not be a popular time to take a science course. Actually, students were quiet and non-responsive at times, requiring much prodding. To Veronicas delight, the environmental course was not to be dreaded. She commented: Monday mornings are usually not the greatest for most people, especially if you have to go to school. I was dreading this very thing to be honest. I was hoping that my first day back wasnt going to be that boring class. As it turns out, it wasnt what I expected at all! It was a great way to start off the week. I never expected to be so interested in science class! I am one that loves to voice my opinion on a lot of things, especially our twisted government. I am glad that I am learning new things about the environment as well as how it affects our health and where we live. Kelly, a spunky student with her usual hat full of comments, wrote this after the first class: You really piqued my interest with the first class. I thought that going through the history of environmental events was a wonderful icebreaker. It has really opened my eyes to the things behind the scenes that the public never hears about. As the course progressed through the 12-week quarter, more students expressed their growing interest in environmental science. Some stated the topics of discussions sparked their interests while others voiced their appreciation of class activities as fun eye-opening experiences. Students responded as follows:
126 At first I thought environmental sci ence was yuck but it really has become interesting to me. I know that I will leave this class with more respect for the environment than the first time I walked in the door. Thanks! (Veronica) This class was very interesting. I should be honest by also letting you know that I had not given much thought to environmental issues in a very long time. This is not because I dont care but because I know as a nation, were in a bad situation with how we treat the earth and the reality of it is very frightening. (Carol) I have enjoyed your class. In t he beginning, I had the mentality of Why do I need to take this class? and after doing so I am extremely pleased you have taught us everyday things that everyone should know. Anyways, thank you very much for making the class so enjoyable. I think that this class was one of my favorites. (Jawanda) This has been a complete learning experience for me, because I was not current on many of the environmental issues today. Yes, I knew we have to conserve water and recycle. Have dear tree-hugging friends that informed me of the importance of this. I knew that the Earth is hotter causing the hurricanes to be stronger and more dangerous. I knew very little about the popular issues that we face year after year here in Fl orida and globally. I was ignorant. (Terri) Behavioral Changes and Activism. Students expressed their growing participation in energy conservation, recycling, and change of home habits, since enrollment in the course. Students c onveyed outward attitudinal and behavioral changes (65 percent reported changes and 23 percent reported possible changes). They enthusiastically expressed their desire to influence co-workers, family members, and friends to participat e in environmentally-friendly practices. Students joined Sierra Club, recycled copy paper, signed petitions, and influenced co-workers to follow suit. Samantha convinced her boss at Subway to implement recycling activities on the premises. She wrote in the Environmental Science Inventory that she intended to change her major from criminology to
127 environmental science. Since the degree is not offered at the college she will likely transfer to another college. Students expressed that they actively shared with others the content of class discussions and lectures. As the course progressed, Terri responded to the course by seeking television shows and movies concerning the environment. She wrote the following: Oh, tonight on The Discovery Channel, they had a piece on Global Warming. I stumbled upon it right at the midpoint of the show. After seeing the end, I scrolled ahead to the new showing of it (12 am to 2 a.m.) and recorded it so I could see the beginning. I caught the Inconvenient Truth last week and the statistics in both movies are all very similar (frightening too). By the mid-term of the environmental course, Terri began a recycling program at her workplace, an engineering firm. She collects aluminum cans and plastic bottles, bundling bags of the items to take home. The community she where she resides has a curbside collection program. I bet if I hung out with your for a year, Id be a completely changed human being. Heck, Ive been your student for a month and already Ive started a recycling program at my work with just aluminum cans and plastic bottles and have started to rethink my political views and beliefs all together. Debbie, a student in late-thirties, is a personal trainer and sun worshiper. She stated her love for Florida weather and the need to preserve the waterways in Florida during a discussion. She expressed these views on recycling: People just need a little ambition to do the right thing. It is awful to bribe people to do such things but I must admit I always recycled in Michigan and I never do here! Just out of pure laziness. This discussion opened my eyes to the cause and effect of not recycling
128 so I am going to start doing it now. It is worth it! Another student, Carol, conveyed the desire to major in environmental science. A Baby Boomer student, s he was graduating with her Bachelors degree in business at the end of the quarter. Her cold writing exercise listed several terms related to soil and detritus because she said, My hobby is gardening! She confessed to me, Had I known that I could have had a career in environmental science, I would have majored in it. I have always been into nature and this would have been a good fit. Plus, you know me with my mouth! I would love to lobby! In an email, Joey wrote he enjoyed the class and was thinking about getting involved in the environmental movement. He volunteers to help the homeless. Sadly, during the quarter, Joey became homeless himself, but still struggled to attend class. He wrote an email explaining his desire for activism: I also would like to get more involved in more things that are going on at school and out of school and with the community and everything. If there is anything going on in the community and they need volunteers for anything, please le me know and Id be happy to help out. Anne articulated the importance of involvement, as follows: I know Im going to like this class because I am going to learn so much about my environment that Ill have to get involved. Im excited to have an instructor that has such a passion for this subject. I think that if you truly believe in something and you have the opportunity to tell people about it, you can make a difference. Students felt provoked to clarify information discussed in class and sought further explanations. Several students reaction papers reflected the
129 performance of deeper research into science content and controversial issues discussed in class. Some students realized the complex relationships between government, people, and the political will to create changes in the system. Larry, a male student in his mid-twenties appeared attentive and alert, although passive in contributing to cla ss discussions. He had friends who were serving in Iraq and wrote his term paper on the effects of chemical weapons in warfare. He cited a historical overview of the Geneva Convention, which I used in a lecture. Larry researched benzene because he was moved by the class discussion on Stuckeys: I was surprised to hear that the FDEP hadnt inspected the water and soil near the apartments at Stuckeys since 2003, letting it seep into the potable water system. I recently looked up benzene and the health effects. Benzene exposure has serious health effects while breathing high levels, which can result in death. Levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors and confusion. Eating or drinking foods containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizzi ness, sleepiness, convulsions and rapid heart rate. Some women who breathed high levels showed irregular menstrual periods and decreased ovary size. It is not known whether benzene exposure affects the developing fetus in pregnant women or fertility in men. Pat is a female student in her early-t wenties. She is a self-described Wiccan who loves nature and intends to move up north with her girlfriend to work at a wastewater treatment plant. S he was a criminology student but later decided to make a career switch after taking the environmental course. She wrote: I was really surprised by all the things going on in Florida that the government isnt doing anything about. It really makes me wanna
130 get involved and help the environment. I am also excited about the field trip. My dad retired in the water treatment field and so that area has always interested me. Kelly, who often speaks with force and logic, showed her activist side, saying: What if these residents all got together and signed a petition and branched out to other neighborhoods with the same issues and end up going to the Supreme Court? Theres got to be something we can do to change this!! According to the Environmental Sci ence Inventory, 61 percent voted in 2004 and 70 percent intended to vote in the 2006 mid-term elections. It is possible that some of the students may have turned 18 years old since the 2004 election. They showed interest in ta king the plunge. Some students may not have voted in 2004 and had no intentions of voting in the 2006 election due to their resident alien status. I know t here were several students enrolled in the course from Mexico, Jamaica, Albania, Laos, and Japan. This could have affected data. Students Sharing Outside of the Classroom. Reaction papers, cold writing sessions and the environmental scienc e inventory showed that 91 percent of students shared lecture content and di scussion topics with family, friends, and co-workers. Carol, a spunky nature-lo ving, outspoken Baby Boomer, quipped, I tell anybody and everybody who will listen about this class! Sharing the course experience was encouraged by inviting family and friends to the planned field trip. On a Sa turday morning, some students shared the field trip experience at the wa stewater treatment plant with daughters,
131 husbands, friends, a nephew, a boyfriend, and father. I was very pleased to meet significant others and extended family members, and received very good feedback from them. Veronica, Cour tney, and Terri described their sharing experiences during the course: I went home and we were watching shark week on the Discovery Channel. I pointed out to my husband that the murky water is eutrophic. I felt so scientific! (Veronica) I liked the sinkhole demonstration and I plan to do that with my kids. (Courtney) Youll be happy to know that as I learn all of these fun facts, I pass the information on to my friends and family. Then, they come back to me and tell me how theyve told everyone they know and we laugh about their reactions. I love it! You are a good instructor, Ms. Tabone. I sincerely appreciate everything you do out in our community and in my life personally. Im happier now that Ive learned the benefits of recycling and doing my part to save energy to reduce my emissions. Im rubbing this off on my friends too. It seems like every one I know talks to me about environmental issues now that Im labeled as a tree-hugger. Ha! (Terri) Personal reactions to me. Students responded in the reaction papers and cold writing exercises by expressing t heir opinions to my personal stories of working in the environmental science field and environmental activism. The students remembered facts concerning my personal life (e.g., boyfriend running for congress, my public access TV show) during writing exercises. Terri, who relishes charitable work, commented on my altruism: I think it is great as well that you have a television show. It is great insight to show how one person can make a difference I commend you for the strength to stand up for whats right. I truly look up to you for the good work you do for our environment.
132 I think your protesting is great! Im just too busy (maybe lazy) to protest. When your ideas are that strong that you want to tell the world, protesting is the best wayand only way! On a personal note, I want to thank you for what you do everday for the environment and the people in it. I enjoy talking to my family and friends about you, your work and how determined you are to get the bad guy. With a ll of the discouraging things you must see and know, you always keep going at it every day. That is so admirable and encouraging. I can only imagine how frustrating your job can be at ti mes, but please know that you are reaching people through education and are making a difference every day. I surely have a whole new respect for science and environmental professionals just after only two weeks! You do a great job! Responses to Course Instructional Methods Discussions. Science courses in higher education are primarily delivered through traditional lectures. The environmental science course dedicated the first 45-minutes of lecture to open discussi on of news articles I read aloud. During the science content portion, questions and dialogue were encouraged as information was elaborated. Overall, the response to the discussion was favorable, if not preferred, by most of the mature students. The generational differences are discussed further in the paper. Students favored discussion format (24 percent), a combination of Power Point presentations and discussion (26 percent), Power Point presentations alone (17 percent) or writing on the board and discussion (15 percent). Students relished the free speech oppor tunity in a safe classroom environment. One student wrote, I am a li ttle shy in class so dont speak up as much as I should, but this [reaction paper] shows I do have an opinion. Thank you for letting us express ourselves this way. It became very apparent students
133 desired the opportunity to be heard as the course progressed. The feedback became remarkably positive as the same sentiment emerged repeatedly, Thank you for letting me speak my mind. Maria, a student from Mexico, offered a different insight into the discussion format: In spite English is not my first language and it limits my ability to understand 100% of the lecture, I can learn the most important points. This lecture is so interesting that I can learn in an easy way. Thank you for your teaching. Maria gave additional insight and feedback about my teaching methods from the perspective of a foreign student. Her term paper on the introduction of exotic species (i.e., pythons) into t he environment was well written and produced a higher quality paper than some of my native speakers. She preferred traditional board writing methods to Powe r Point presentations, which she felt were difficult to follow. Maria wrote about the teaching methods: The last lecture I liked more than the others. It was easy to follow the book while the teacher is giving the lecture. I like this way more than watching the projector. I like when the teacher draws on the blackboard. It helps keep a picture in my mind about some topics and learn easily. Each class is better and better because my English comprehension is getting better every day. Introverted students articulated thei r desire to be heard and appreciated the use of reaction papers as an outlet fo r self-expression. Some expressed interest in hearing how fellow classmates felt and thought about topics, for informative purposes, subtle curiosity, and occasional amusement. Three anonymous students wrote on their Environmental Science Inventories: I tell my husband about all of our class discussionsmore so
134 because they are just that discussions and you are open and allow us to voice our opinions. Its refreshing to have a class like this. Our class discussions have been so interesting. I truly believe the discussions are the reason whys so many people in the class have retained so much information. The most interesting part to me is always the articles and class discussions. This allows me to learn more about my environment and what I can do to make sure its around for my children and my childrens children to enjoy. The discussion format in the class aroused students emotions and sometimes provoked heated responses. Respect was demanded and enforced through discussion moderation and the require ment of hand-raising. Robin, the conservative student who prompted ar guments, wrote about the reaction of fellow students: To me it seems that certain students seemed to have some kind of anger built within them and they had a chance to air it out. Debate is good as long as we all can respect each others decisions. The Monday morning class appeared to be less animated when Robin was absent. There seemed to be less t ension in the air and students required prodding into discussion mode. The time, day, and general composition of the morning class possibly may have bearing (e.g., younger students who live at home). The decibel level during the evening class was louder, requiring enforcement of hand-raising and manners. The evening class was mostly composed of working-class students who greatly desired the full college experience and were not in the class simply because it was required. Nevertheless, I delivered the lectures with dr amatic flare, attempting to not only
135 instruct but entertain the students. To break up the monotony of the Power Point lectures, I embedded comical animal photos within the prepared slides. Students appreciated teacher enthusiasm and it bec ame infectious in class. Two anonymous students and Anne articulated: My teacher is very interested in her subject so that makes me more interested in learning about the environment. I like the way we discuss these problems and the teachers interest makes me want to keep going. The other thing I like about class is my teacher is very comical. Some of the topics are boring but they are very educational. (Anne) Classroom activities. Students responded to the group activities, videos, and demonstrations performed in the environm ental science course. Particularly popular was the sinkhole model demonstr ation, which yielded kudos in the reaction papers and environmental science inventory. Students appreciated going through the weekly homework answers for clarification, the structured organization of the course, and the handson aspects of the group activities. The field trip, although optional and extra credit, was an activity students desired. Students who worked on Saturdays regretted missing the field trip and requested notification the following quarter fo r another opportunity to participate. Reactions to the sinkhole demonstr ation and other group activities are presented: The sinkhole demonstration was particularly entertaining and presented well. (John)
136 I really enjoyed the sinkhole dem onstration. My best friend has struggled with a sinkhole in her back yard for years. Shes already had it repaired twice and is having trouble selling her house because of it too. And she lives in Hernando County, just like you said. Im learning so much! Im just tickled to death! I would have NEVER thought I would lik e this class this much! (Terri) A student reaction to the plastics recycling activity is presented: I had fun learning about the plastics. Its fun learning about stuff Ive never given a second thought to. Every night after this class, I go home and tell all of these fun facts to my boyfriend. He loves it. When I first started this class, I was worried I wouldnt do so well, but its a blast and I think hes happy to see me having so much fun. (Terri) Hazardous waste activityIt m ade me notice all of the dangerous stuff that is in my bedroom bathroom and garage. (Jawanda) Anne provided her insight on the use of cute animal photos and heartwarming stories in the lecture: How cute were those little pigs and that tiger Every week is something new and different. I really like the way we have hands-on contact with the class discussion. It gives us a different perspective on what we are learning. Mandy and Maria shed light on the us e of humor and the necessity of going over the homework lessons: I enjoyed the movie on artificial grass (The Daily Show) as I think it added enough humor and information to make it interestingcourse I think we can all agree that towards the end it was a comedy club! (Mandy) Even though I did my homework and got it correct, I was glad you went over it because you helped me understand it more. (Maria) Generational Responses to the Environmental Science Course This section describes the results of Subquestion [SQ4]. Students
137 generational responses will be discussed. The difference in the responses of student generations became apparent during the 12-week course. Demographically speaking, most of the Millennials attended the course during the day, lived at home with parents or with a roommate/partner, and worked at least parttime. Some of the Millennials were single-mothers and frequently missed class due to lack of babysitters and transportation. Millennials missed classe s for various reasons, as follows: forgot about school, had to work, and personal problems. Many admitted to taking anti-depressants for bipolar disease and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Students told me they either obtained a G.E.D. prior to entering college or obtained a high school diploma. Many were proud of the fact they were first in their family to enter college and had maintained a .0 grade point average. The Generation Xers, once famous for being slackers, appeared to be anything but slackers in the course. Most of the Generation Xers worked fulltime, maintained family and children, and owned or rented homes. A few students were ex-military and sought degrees in criminology. Some of the students were divorced or single mothers who resided at home with their parents. Generation Xers gave various excuses fo r being absent: car accidents, sick in the hospital, sick child, and moving residence. The Generation Xers suffered from problems not typical of other st udents. One student, Anne, was very proud of her -days clean in a Narcoti cs Anonymous program and another had her family evicted from her home due to r ent non-payment. During the classroom
138 breaks, students shared their storie s and talked with me on the phone when I inquired about their absenteeism. I had an interesting conversation with a parent when I called to speak to her daughter about being absent from class. When I told her mother I was concerned about her daughters absenteeism, she replied, Hmmmy daughter is lying again! She lies all the time! She said her environmental class was cancelled on Monday due to an environmental oil spill. She is 28 years old and lives here with her 6 year old daughter. The students mother sounded very desperate and confided to me that her daughter was unemployed, frequently slept late, and had no real career goal. Her husband was forced to come out of retirement to pay for health insurance and support the family. The Baby Boomers appeared articulate, conscientious, and very gungho regarding interest in the environment. They were totally immersed in the classroom experience, often bringing lov ed ones on the field trip. Most of the Baby Boomers were divorced, working men and women who needed a degree for economic purposes. The men were mostly ex-military and were likely receiving financial assistance to attend college. A couple of the married female students were raising grandchildren and occasionally missed class due to child illnesses or lack of babysitters. These remarkable women had their hands full. All Baby Boomers were very proud to be enrolled in college and worked diligently to maintain their high grades. They excelled in classroom discussions, were not afraid to voice their opinions and relished writing the reaction papers.
139 The work quality of Baby Boomers was superior to all of the generations, with Generation Xers marking a close second pl ace. They paid attention to detail unlike the Millennials whose term papers bore the bare minimum of pages, utilized few references, and appeared childlike. The topics the Millennials chose were safe and did not show indi viduality, like the Generation Xers and Millennials. The Millennials often said littl e, if anything, of substance during the class discussions, reaction papers, and Envi ronmental Science Inventory. Any question that required elaboration or explanation was often left blank, as they appeared non-committal and not interested in taking a stand on an issue. Millennials most important concern in the class was the grade requirements, format of the exam, and opportunities for extra credit. Millennials did not appear to be politically savvy yet many vowed to vote in the 2006 election since they were now of age. Terri, the Gener ation Xer, stated in class: I voted for President Bush because of my parents and because I am a Christian. You know, because the Church is pro-life and all. Since taking the environmental course, she vowed that she would research each candidate and make up her own mind. She showed signs of reflective thinking throughout the course and questioned her entrusted authority figures. Generation Xers and Baby Boomers responded to the controversial issues discussed in class. They were not afraid to openly discuss the issues and showed emotion in their reaction papers. Both stated facts that surprised them
140 as follows: global warming (I had heard about it but didnt know the extent), government-allowed testing on people, pollu tion in groundwater, the seriousness of the ozones condition, and the odor less sewage treatment plant. The Millennials were surprised about global wa rming, child testing, and racial and class discrimination. Millennials, espec ially the male students, were the only generation to write comments like I dont get surprised and I didnt find any topics in the course to be controversial. One sarcastic male Millennial who was studying to be a paralegal wrote, My favorite part of class is the break. I like the discussions but the class is too long. Baby Boomers and Generation Xer s felt the environmental science course influenced their way of thinking. Three anonymous Generation Xers commented on their changes of habit: I am more aware of what Im doi ng to the environment. I certainly watch what I put down the sink! I try to conserve water I advocate more awareness pertaining to our environment. Baby Boomers wrote of changes in philosophy and described deeper responses: I am revisiting a lot of these important issues (Harry) Ive always been a friend to the environment but this course reinforced my beliefs. (Carol) Ive become more aware of our fragile environment. (Nita)
141 Millennials wrote they would pay att ention to environmental news in the media: I will now research, keep up with current events, and will try to question everything. (Lisa) It makes me think more about where well be in 5 to 10 years from now. (Mandy) Mostly the Generation Xers and Baby Boomers reported feeling discomfort during class discussions. Generation Xers listed feeling uncomfortable while discussing global warming, animal testing, and human experimentation on the underpr ivileged. One female Generation Xer listed feeling uncomfortable when politics were discussed in class. Baby Boomers were equally uncomfortable with the discu ssions of the governments role in pesticide experimentation on children and animal testing. Although most Millennials did not list specific topics of discomfort, one female student wrote feeling a lot of discomfort regardi ng government corruption and stated Everyone should question their motives. On changing behavioral habits, many Generation Xers and Baby Boomers listed specific changes they had enacted. Some Generation Xers listed these comments: As you age, you care more (Debbie) I changed my water usage
142 I now recycle and recently created a compost pile. Also, I dont run hot water and grease down the drain. (Sherri) We ride bikes instead of driving to the library and dont run water while doing the dishes (Joy) I watch what I throw down the toilet and keep track of my energy consumption. (Lu) Anonymous Baby Boomers listed these comments: Im more conscious about what I buy, what I eat, and how I dispose of things I try to save more energy No more aerosol cans and no more tuna! Im quitting smoking. Millennials were not likely to comment on specific behavioral habits. Some expressed their intention to recycle, conserve water, and use natural pesticides. Some of the Millennials may live at home and are not as conscious about making changes as the mature students. The three generations showed different preferences for the pedagogical techniques utilized during the 12-week c ourse. Millennials were enthusiastic about working in groups with classmates. Most preferred the use of Power Point presentations or a combination of Power Point presentations and discussions. They liked printing the Power Point hand-outs for note writing. Most did not like writing notes from listening to lectures or copying material from the board.
143 Although they may not have actively voiced their opinions, they enjoyed listening to others. The Millennials were very rec eptive to the sinkhole activity (top ranked activity) as well as learning about plastics recycling. The Generation Xers and Baby Boom ers ranked discussion format or a combination of Power Point presentations and discussion as the preferred method of instruction. Many listed t he oral presentations of the newspaper articles and discussion of current events as their favorite part of the lecture. These discussions generated a lot of topics for students to share outside of the classroom. The Generation Xers and Baby Boomers (as well as most Millennials) shared with husbands, wives, co-workers, friends, parents, or anybody who would listen. The Generation Xers and Baby Boomers participated in the field trip, not only for earning the extra credit (they desire straight As) but to learn about scienc e outside of the classroom. They appreciated the sinkhole demonstrations and interacting with others. Overall, the discussions were held in high regard. Although there were few males in the classroom, especially Millennials, I observed a shared trait among those pres ent: lack of vocal participation, a disinterest in writing reaction papers (some days you didnt talk about much to write on), and lack of sharing with outsider s. Some of the male Millennials appeared to be in the class simply because it was a requirement for their degree. One male Millennial wrote, While the instructor was very knowledgeable, the class bored me greatly. Some of the female Millennials appeared as
144 disconnected as the males. One fema le Millennial wrote about the reaction papers, I dont like writing them. Its hard fo r me to write what I think. A few Millennials confessed during the 12-week quarter that although they found the class to be interesting, they had a lot of personal problems. Overall, the majority of students favo red writing reaction papers. Female Generation Xers wrot e these remarks: It was actually nice to write all the things down; I enjoyed it because even though I didnt talk in class, Ms. Tabone realized I had an opinion or a thought; I really enjoyed them. I shar ed the idea with Professor Fuchs, saying he should use this idea in his class; It was helpful to look back and see and say how I felt about what we talked about. It helped a little to get things off of my mind and not to upset someone or not to air it to everyone in the class. Baby Boomers wrote similarly, enjoyi ng the experience of writing. The quality of writing for the Generation X ers and Baby Boomers was sophisticated and lengthy in comparison with the Millennial s. Some Baby Boomers listed these comments: I enjoyed writing about subjects that I feel an interest; It helped me focus on different topics;
145 I find writing things down helps me remember what we discussed in class. I think it is a great way to see if people are paying attention! A couple of female Millennials reported a favorable or mixed reaction, saying: Its nice to do homework and know your answer is not wrong, plus it helped me retain a lot of what I was learning; It allowed me to express my f eelings on subjects. But I didnt always like writing them. Not much to say in some classes. Provoking Students Interest in Environmental Science Although not one of the research questions, a theme emerged that is worthy of discussion. Students inte rest in the environmental course was provoked by information relevant to their personal life and society. They related to science topics with real world connections and relevance to home, family, health, and safety. Figure 3 describes Provoking Interest in Environmental Science Courses and Figures 4a and 4b categorizes Topics Students Recalled During Cold Writing Sessions. Students reaction papers and the cold writing exercises assisted in obtaining information pertaining to what provoked students interest in the environmental course. Students openly discussed their cold writing lists, developing their own categories and groupings of the types of topics they remembered. They were able to create connections between the science content delivered during the course and observations gathered outside of the
146 classroom. One students comment summed the responses, I think that if you have more information like that [on the environment], its good that we know about it, because it affects all of us in one way or another. Another student echoed the sentiment at the end of the c ourse, saying After taking the class, I am extremely pleased you have taught us ev eryday things that everyone should know. Figure 3. Provoking Interest in Environmental Science Courses
147 Figure 4a. Topics students recalled during cold writing sessions
148 Figure 4b. Topics students recalled during cold writing sessions
149 Personal Relevance to Students. Students frequently commented on enjoying the sinkhole model demonstrat ion and the lectures that provided comprehensive information on the warning si gns of sinkhole formation. Sinkhole occurrences are frequently shown in loca l news programs and have economically influenced the insurance industry in our home state. For this reason, there was incentive to educate oneself (and loved ones) on the sinkhole problem. Three students comments are presented as follows: Learning how the sinkholes are created was an interesting experience for me. I loved that sinkhole demonstration. Ms, Tabone, now I fully understand the process of developing sinkholes. Thank you for giving information about how to detect sinkholes in homes (e.g., windows not shutting properly, trouble closing the front door, fence in the yard sinking, cracks in the walls and ceiling). Very informative and I shared with my husband! My husband and I were watching the news and something came up about the recent sinkholes in Hernando. I was able to explain to him why some of them may be happening and just how damaging we are to our environment. It felt good and was nice to know I could teach my husband something and make him aware of the issues. I plan on buying a house here in Florida and I was not aware of all the problems that occur [due to sinkholes]. Students discussions often related to their newfound awareness of environmental issues pertaining to health and safety. Popular discussion topics included the safety of well water, Teflon, and carcinogens. Students were surprised to realize the techniques of grouper fishing and that sandwiches labeled as grouper may actually be a s ubstitute fish. Students, particularly those with children, appeared attentive during the discussions. Mandy wrote about newfound information:
150 I knew that a person can get very ill and pass out from heat exhaustion but did not realize that a person could die from heat exhaustion. Another fact that I was not aware of was that so many people died from heat exhaustion in Europe in 2004. Nita, a well-informed African Americ an student in her late-forties, responded after the lecture on dioxin and her change in behavior: I knew someone who was in the Vietnam War and he was exposed to Agent Orange or napalm. He is not right in his head to this day. Now I am aware of reading each l abel of food, chemicals we use to clean my house and medicine in order to know about cautions. Shaneka, an African-American student in her early thirties, responded to the article concerning two county workers who were arrested after pouring diesel on palm trees. I see now that getting rid of foliage with gasoline is not such a good idea! It never occurred to me that it would affect the water. Students articulated the content of the course linked to real world connections. Students noted observing algae in retention ponds or water-theme parks, remembering the lecture on eutrophication. Students shared their childhood memories of Earth Day after I explained the formation and history of the EPA. Lu, an Asian-American student in his mid-thirties, was interested in learning more about sinkholes because one had erupted in his neighborhood. He was a perfectionist, often typing his reaction papers and inserting graphics for emphasis. He submitted a reaction paper showing the sinkhole location and provided additional research not discussed in class. An interesting event occurred when I read an article about a local
151 apartment landlord who used the homele ss to remove asbestos from the dwelling. The landlord was fined for subjecting these workers to asbestos without the proper personal protection and informed consent. When I read the name of the landlord and the street address of the apartm ent, Liz exclaimed, Oh my God! That is my neighbor! I had no idea! She is really rich too! Needless to say, this provoked a lot of discussion with the students as she proved her acquaintance by passing around her cell phone with the neighbors name. Introduction to New Information. Students voiced appreciation in learning both useful, relevant information and unusual facts concerning the environment. Toxicological trivia and personal renditions of my experiences in the wastewater treatment field were hot topics listed in reaction papers and cold writing lists. Students reported sharing triv ia with co-workers, friends, and family to impress and amaze them with their vast knowl edge. Top items of interest to the students include the toxicity of lima beans (i.e., cyanide), significance of recycling codes on plastic products, and the presenc e of tomato plants near wastewater tanks. Lisa and Jawanda reacted to recycling as follows: The highlight was the plastic recycling numbering system. I never really gave these symbols much thought. I knew they were for recycling but did not know what the number schemes [labels] were about. Now I do. (Lisa) I was very excited to learn about the different recycling codes. I never knew what the symbols marked on solid plastic items meant until now. Reading more on how recycling can reduce waste, save energy and resources. Im glad its both an environmental and economic issue. (Jawanda) Comments concerning lima beans containing cyanide and the tomato
152 plants located at wastewater facilities peppered the reaction papers the week of the toxicology lecture. Terri, Maria, and Jawanda commented as follows: I didnt know too much water may be lethal! I know about drowning in pools and lakes, but drinking? Amazing! The toxicity of lima beans and salt is amazing! The absolute kicker for the night and of my 2006 was the tomato plants growing outside [the tanks] at the wastewater facilities. This just blows my mi nd, man. Its probably something very small in a sense but for some reason Im just wowed by this. I laugh every time I think of it. I told my co-workers about it and they were shocked too. (Terri) I was surprised that lima beans contain cyanide. In my country, Mexico, we eat lima beans frequently and I never heard of that. (Maria) I never would have dreamed of knowi ng that those are tomato vines on the sides of sewage tanks. Teaching the class the process of the growth was new to my knowledge and exciting. I couldnt wait to get home and share it with my family. They were all shocked too! (Jawanda) Students responded to new information concerning environmentallyfriendly tips for energy conservation and us e of natural pesticides. During the course, they realized the connection between conservation and economics, which may have served as a positive incentive for active change. Concern for indoor air quality, pesticide residue, and toxi city to children and pets, provided an incentive for students attention to homeuse of chemicals. Kim and Julie responded to the use of safe pesticides, as follows: I really like the ideas about the homemade pesticidesmint spray for ants. (Kim) I knew about using the boric acid to control fleas but I was cautioned, as I mentioned in class. Getting it wet while on the floor can burn the feet of animals in the house. I honestly have never heard of the mint or cinnamon o il, but I sure will try it! (Julie)
153 Summary The data gathered through students reaction papers, cold writing exercises, and field observations and En vironmental Science Inventory were triangulated to answer the research question: How do the students respond to controversial issues embedded in the curriculum of an undergraduate environmental science course consist ent with the science education reform movement? Subquestions emerged as the data were collected: Which features of controversial issues triggered responses? Were there signs of attitudinal changes and positive environmental actions? Were there any signs of skepticism and reflective thinking? Did generations react differently? The Use of Controversial Issues in the Classroom Model (Figure 2) was created to show students responses to controversial issues embedded in the curriculum. Interpretation of the model shed insight into the elements necessary for an issue to be deemed controversial by st udents: injustice. The injustice is connected to aspects of inequality, intent ional affliction or absence of freedom. These injustices are rooted in ignor ance, greed, or neglect. Students felt particularly dissonant when these injustic es affected vulnerable populations, such as children, animals, or poor/homeless. Students showed interest in the environmental science course when topics offered value to them. Science t opics related to personal relevance (e.g.,
154 family, home, health or safety) and soci etal relevance piqued their interest. Students noted real world connections of topics discussed in class, which reinforced their interest in science. Prov oking Interest in Environmental Science Courses concept map was presented in Figure 3. Topics Students Recalled in Cold Writing Sessions concept map wa s presented in Figure 4. Students recalled topics discussed in class as follows: atrocities, environmental scares, conservation, safety, field trip, scienc e content, environmental organizations, politics, and my personal life. During the 12-week quarter, students were intrigued by not only useful relevant information but weird facts. T hey shared the topics of class discussion with loved ones, colleagues, and friends to inform and impress. Students attended the class field trip to a reclaimed water facility (wastewater treatment plant) with loved ones and significants to share the educational experience. Many students who entered the course with a preconceived notion of boredom or fear of science showed signs of attitude change. Students sought further information on lecture topics, discussed lectures with outsiders, practiced environmental conservation at home, joined environmental organizations, and vowed to become politically active (e.g., voting, signing petitions). Students developed signs of reflective thinking as the course progressed. They began showing skepticism, questioning sources of print and broadcast media. As Terri wrote, I need to k eep an open mind during this course despite her self-proclaimed ignorance of the iss ues and conservative upbringing. She
155 stated, Its not my practice to question everything but it could pay off if I did questions things. Not all students kept an open-mind during the 12-week session. There were students who did not report responses to controversial issues. Students with known conservative attitudes reported cognitive dissonance to discussing politics in an environmental science course. Students enjoyed the discussion format which offered them a voice in class. Those who were too shy to contribute to the open forum appreciated the opportunity to vent in the reaction papers. Students like Baby Boomers and Generation Xers favored the discussion format or a combination with Power Point presentations. Foreign students, Baby Boomers, and Generation Xers wrote reaction papers a chalkboard driv en lecture on ecosystems. They responded favorably to the traditional method which requires note copying and references specific page numbers in the book. Millennials were not keen on discussions or writing their feelings on paper. They enjoyed group activities and demonstrations. All generations report ed enjoying the sinkhole demonstration and plastics recycling activity. Overall, the Baby Boomers and Generation Xers produced better quality reports, showed enthusiasm in the course, and implemented conservation and environm entally-friendly activities.
156 Chapter FiveDiscussion, Conclusion, and Recommendation Introduction The purpose of my study was to describe the ways non-science majors in an undergraduate environmental science c ourse responded to controversial issues embedded in the curriculum of a course consistent with the science reform movement. Using a phenomenologica l approach, students experiences during the 12-week course in Summer 2006 were explored to describe the phenomena. Data was analyzed from cla ssroom observations, students weekly reaction papers, cold writing sessions, and Environmental Science Inventory. Through the data analysis process, themes emerged. Students were disturbed by the discussions of controversial issues and signs of cognitive dissonance developed. Students reacted to controversial issues related to justice. Belief in Just World influenced students perceptions, including those of all political leanings. Some students grew in critical thinking, displaying reflective thinking thought patterns. Some students resisted attitudinal and behavioral changes Students interest in the environmental science course was provoked, particularly if deemed personally relevant. The multiage composition of the class influenced students generational responses to the environmental course Students Responses to Controversial Issues Cognitive Dissonance. Students responded to the controversial issues
157 embedded within the environmental science curriculum according to students reaction papers, cold writing exercises, and Environmental Science Inventory. Approximately 41 percent of students r eported feeling conscious emotions ranging from mild to strong dissonance, as described in Figure 1, Use of Controversial Issues in the Classroom Model. The emotions appear associated with bioethical situations described during the discussion portion of the lecture. Topics that appealed to students emotions related to vulnerable populations (e.g., children, animals, and poor/homeless). Observations of the class discussions and comments in reaction papers showed feelings of dissonance regarding human experimentation without consent or full-disclosure. In addition, cases of vulnerable populations sufferi ng known exposures to contamination without remediation or personal protection disturbed the students. They expressed feelings of shock and disbelief toward authority figures and institutions that condoned these practices. Students reported during t he 12-week quarter feelings of anger, disbelief, amazement, and sadness. Mid-way th rough the course, students confided, Every time I leave this class, I feel depressed. I feel angry about what I am hearing and depressed at the same time. For this reason, at the sixth class meeting I gave my Lecture of H ope. Students appeared relieved when we discussed What we citizens can do to change the status quo. This provided an opportunity for me to address the questi on asked by students during the quarter, How can I get involved? The Lecture of Hope offered students a positive
158 viewpoint and hope for the future of the environment. The Use of Controversial Issues in the Classroom Model (Figure 2) addressed the question, What makes an issue controversial? The dictionary defines controversy as a dispute or debate, especially a lengthy and public one, between sides holding opposing views (" The American Heritage Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary," 1988). According to the emergent model, a controversial issue must have an element of injustice to affect a students moral code or value system, causing feelings of cognitive dissonance. An issue may be deemed controversial if the injustice concerns inequality, absence of freedom, or intentional affliction or abuse. If a c ontroversial issue does not sit well with a person and dissonance occurs, a motivation within the person pushes its reduction through self-rationalization or overt demonstration against the dissonance (i.e., actions) to create consonance. Students responded to the newspaper arti cles and personal stories related to the Stuckeys and Brooksville contam inated sites because both related to environmental justice. In particular, the Brooksville contaminated site appeared as a case of environmental racism. Most of the victims were African-American residences who have suffered consequences allegedly from the neighboring Public Works Facility. The Stuckeys st ory hit students heartstrings based on the presence of children consuming the benzene contaminated groundwater. The governmental agencies have refused to tr eat the contaminated groundwater at Stuckeys since the benzene levels ar e have not exceeded State and Federal
159 Drinking Water Standards (the benzene levels are slightly below the Maximum Contaminant Level). When I performed the environmental project, the agencies had neither sampled the onsite potable we ll in three years, nor warned the tenants of the contamination. Students noted that greed was the culprit behind the atrocities and injustices committed. It appears that injustices rooted in greed, neglect, or even ignorance served as a catalyst for cognitive dissonance responses in students. Justice. The element of justice is the basis for students to deem an issue controversial. This connection is supported by Lerners Belief in Just World (BJW) theory (Lerner, 1965, 1980, 1997, 2003; Sallay & Dalbert, 2004). During the class discussions of bioethics, a student may suffer cognitive dissonance based on the unfairness and injustice of the situation. Those with high degrees of BJW feel that everything in life is predictable, controllable, and people get in life what they deserve. In other words, what comes around goes around. Lerner reasoned that people have a need to believe the world is just; innocent suffering threatens this belief because it suggests that there are people who do not r eap their just desserts. To protect BJW, a victim can be com pensated for unjust treatment. (Hafer, 2000, p. 1059). Lerners BJW theory appears applicabl e when students described their desire for punishment of perpetrators of in justice. Students reported that victims of environmental justice or racism should be compensated and perpetrators should be punished. As John a male in his mid-thirties noted, punishment should be to the fullest extent of t he law. The purpose of punishing the
160 offending party is not solely for the purpos e of making the victim feel better, but provides a societal requirement fo r retributive justice (Darley, 2002). According to Hafer (2000), if the co mpensation does not occur or cannot occur, people may respond defensively toward the victims character. During a class discussion, some students in cla ss berated the parents who accepted the $970 for using their children in the CHEER S Pesticide study, without blaming the EPA. Particularly notable in the cla ssroom was Robin and ex-military students who felt human experiments, whether on ch ildren or a result of war, provided important information. Robins stated, A s inhumane as it appears, we (society) learn from these experiments! It is likely that Robin harbored a worldview entrenched in BJW. She and Julie parroted conservative rhetoric during class discussions and in reaction papers. Conservatism, Belief in Just World, and Cognitive Dissonance. Dittmar and Dickinson (1993) studied 98 female and 80 male college students at the University of Sussex, segregating them a ccording to political orientation (rightwing, moderate/liberal, and left-wing). The students filled a Social and Political Attitudes Questionnaire and researchers measured their BJW scale. After MANOVA analysis, the results showed a significant effect for political orientation, F(10,326)=13.61, p<0.0001 and post hoc comparisons (Scheffe, p<0.05) showed the three means of the political groups significantly differed from each for Traditional Moralism, Machiavellian Cynicism, and New Left Philosophy. As predicted, a strong main effect for polit ical orientation, F(2,161)-19.08, p<0.0001
161 showed right-wing subjects endorsed just wo rld beliefs strongly, followed at some distance by moderate students, and with a more substantial gap by left-wing participants (Dittmar & Dickinson, 1993). Furnham (2003) agrees with Dittmar and Dickinsons results, noting BJW scores are associated with those favoring right-wing socio-political beliefs. In addition, the students were not actively involved or interested in politics. Furnhams review of BJW literature over the last ten years noted most studies show BJW associated with conservatism and authoritarianism. He cites: If one assumes the world is just, there must be less reason to attempt to change it through political action than if one believes it is fundamentally unjust. (Furnham, 2003, p. 810) Students reactions to learning about science atrocities and injustices described feeling sad, angry and shocked. Reflecting upon the data descriptions, although traces of empathy emerged, the writings appeared in line with justice psychology. Empathy and justic e differ in the temporal durability of effects, with empathy being relatively short-lived (Blader & Tyler, 2002). Justice concerns regard groups of people, not individuals, and may have long-term effects. The need for equilibrium is st rong and people in disequilibrium strive for justice. People attempt to make things right to alleviate the nagging feelings of injustice, similar to cognitive dissonance. For this reason, BJW may be serve as motivational in origin, promote self-efficacy, and hope for a just world (Furnham, 2003). Those with low levels of BJW believe they can restore justice and help victims, promoting altruistic behavior.
162 A dimension of Lerners BJW theory relates to social justice advocacy on behalf of oppressed populations. The dimension assumes that an individual has concern for members of his/her own moral community, excluding fair treatment to others. A study of 222 social work st udents enrolled in a course on oppression showed that those who believed in a just world suffered higher distress in relating to the topic of oppression and engaged in fewer advocacy levels (Van Soest, 1996). The students enrolled in the envir onmental science course showed a multicultural span of demography. Student s demonstrated a variety of lifestyles (e.g., gay, single-parent, living at home, etc.), socioeconomic statuses (e.g., middle-income, low-income), employment statuses (e.g., employed, unemployed, ex-military), and ethnicities (e.g., Caucasi an, Asian, African-American, and mixed races). With a mixed backgrounds group, it is highly likely most had experiences with injustice and discrimination in the world, lowering their belief that the world is just. In other words, students enrolled in the study were inclined to respond to the controversial issues and stories of bioet hical atrocities. This sensitizes them to the belief life is not fair and may play a role in motivating their involvement in environmental advocacy. Another important observation noted by conservative students is they described great discomfort during class di scussions but still held firmly to their beliefs. Julie, the soft-spoken conserva tive student wrote in the Environmental Science Inventory that her beliefs are now reinforced. Observing the data that
163 emerged during the study, most student s were positively influenced by embedded controversial issues in the curricu lum. The exceptions to the rule, conservative students, are actually suppor ted by a facet of Festingers (1956) early cognitive dissonance work described in his book When Prophecy Fails. Festinger and his colleagues studied a small cult-following of a Mrs. Marian Keech, a housewife who claimed to receiv e messages from aliens via automatic writing (Festinger, Riecken, & Schachter 1956). The message of the aliens was one of a coming world cataclysm, sim ilar to the millennial or messianic movements who prophesize the end of the wo rld (e.g., Y2Kers). Festinger noted in his study that when a person with deep convictions is confronted with information disconfirming his/her beliefs, he or she actually clings to the belief (Festinger, 1989; Festinger et al., 1956). He notes that it is less painful for a person to tolerate the dissonance than discard the belief (even if flawed or disproved) admit he or she was wrong. He lists the five conditions necessary for the phenomenon to occur: 1. There must be a conviction. 2. There must be commitment to this conviction. 3. The conviction must be amenable to unequivocal disconfirmation. 4. Such unequivocal disconfirmation must occur. 5. Social support must be available subsequent to the disconfirmation. (Festinger et al, 1956, P. 216) In the case of Julie, she claimed she was a registered Democrat yet declared her great distrust of former Democratic candidates, John Kerry and John Edwards; described her disdain fo r politics and stated her discomfort with any political discussions held in class; and cited her husbands denial of the
164 existence of global warming. Although Julie listened to the discussions and lectures during the quarter, she admitt ed speaking with her husband after each class. Her husband, who serves as her authoritative figure (reflective thinking) and social support, likely relieved her di ssonance by discounting the scientific and factual evidence disseminated in the lectures. Reflective Thinking. Students showed signs of reflective thinking by the end of the 12-week course. Many ent ered the environmental course with no preconceived idea of what it entailed. In fact, students described fear of science and anticipation of a boring science class. According to students writings, the class was an eye-opening experience and they pursued interest beyond the classroom. Students began reading outside of the classroom and brought in newspaper articles they encountered. Students reported they looked at the sources of news articles and the funding sour ce of research studies to search for bias. They began to question their long held beliefs and thinking patterns as skepticism developed. Terri, clearly hel d a pre-reflective thinking pattern upon entering the course. She confided to being ignorant of environmental issues and politics. She admitted to voting accord ing to what her parents and minister recommended during the 2004 election. As the course progressed, her detailed reaction papers showed signs of reflecti on, skepticism, and the wanting for knowledge and evidence. She vowed to be informed on issues and candidates platforms concerning environmental issues prior to voting in the mid-term
165 election. Terri was showing signs of quasi-reflective thinking patterns. She was the only student who was able to see An Inconvenient Truth prior to its departure from town. After seeing the movie, she jumped onto the global warming bandwagon. During a class break, Terri told me she was arguing with a co-worker about the existence of global warming. She presented a list of points she discovered while researching her term paper on polar bears. Terri was not the only student to show clear changes. Due to the political nature of the course, students reacted to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and the topics of Gulf War Syndrome and depleted uranium. Kelly stated that her brother served in the Gu lf War and Iraq Conflict. He lives in Colorado and is suffering from unknown debilitating ailments. During the duration of the course, she researched Gu lf War Syndrome. She said, I want answers! The operation of reflective thinking includes subprocesses, such as a) a state of perplexity, doubt and b) an investigative search toward bringing to light further facts that serve to support or nullify a belief (Dewey, 1933). Students reported enjoying listening to class discussions to not only hear others opinions but also express their own. Review of the reaction papers and observations of the class discussions showed students were thinking and assimilating new information. The conservative students in the envir onmental course described feelings of cognitive dissonance during discussions, particularly those connected to
166 politics. Even though the cognitive dissonance may not have motivated a higher reflective thinking stage, thinking was happeni ng. This is a step forward. Dewey (1933) referred to reflective thinking and cognitive dissonance (although the theory had not been formed at that time), when he wrote: Reflective thinking is always more or less troublesome because it involves overcoming the inertia that inclines one to accept suggestions at face value; it involves willingness to endure a condition of mental unrest and disturbance. Reflective thinking, in short, means judgment suspended during further inquiry; and suspense is likely to be somewhat painful. (p. 13) Attitudes and Behavioral Change Many students who entered the course with a preconceived notion that science is boring or harbored a fear of science showed signs of attitude change. As the environmental course progressed, students reported their desire to influenc e friends, family, and co-workers to participate in environmentally-friendly prac tices. They became interested in seeking information concerning environmental issues and conservation beyond the classroom Students reported paying attent ion to news reports on global warming and reading the newspaper for env ironmental science news. Students reported signing online petitions r egarding house bills to save endangered animals (i.e., wild mustangs) and prevent oil drilling in Floridas gulf. A few of students joined environmental activist groups like Sierra Club by the end of the 12 week quarter. Anne, who recently re covered from narcotics addiction, proudly exclaimed in class, I joined Save the Mustangs and Save Keiko the Killer Whale. Anne told me she related to the plight of animals based on her own personal struggles.
167 Three students voiced wanting to enter environmentally-related work fields or majors of study. Using energy saving, water conservation, and recycling practices became popular behavioral changes. Students may have connected the fact that conserving resources and recycling increases monetary savings. Students reported their intentions to try sa fer pesticides substitutes (e.g., mint oil spray, boric acid mixture) to reduce pesticides residues in the environment. Awareness of hazardous wastes and disposal of grease into wastewater systems were reported by several students (especially by those who attended the field trip). The incentive to participate in env ironmental advocacy was prompted by enrollment in the environmental course. Students who reported feelings of disturbance and dissonance desired to help in some way. Whether prompted by cognitive dissonance or a sense of soci etal duty, students were interested in helping the world. Provoking Students Interest in Environmental Science All degree-seeking students are required to enroll in the environmental science course. Students reported they we re pleasantly surprised at how interesting the course was, contrary to their initial expectation. As students progressed through the course, they reported enthusiasm and eye-opening experiences along with their encounter of cognitive dissonance. Students shared the topics of class discussions with friends and loved ones, extending their classroom experience to their personal world. This served as a venting
168 mechanism and evolved into a form of advocacy as students informed loved ones of issues relevant to society (s ee Figure 3). Students relayed information by educating their family and friends on topics having value or personal significance. According to data derived in cold writing sessions, students valued topics that were practical to their health, family, and home life. Students made connections between science content discussed in lectures and real world situations. Value and relevance are the ke ys to student interest in environmental science (see Figure 3). In addition, cold writing sessions indicated the types of topics students were able to retrieve from memory, hence, revealing relevance. Figure 4 illustrates a list of discussion and lecture topics students recalled from memory. Students remembered environment al science content and related to local geography (e.g., sinkholes, drilling in Floridas Gulf). Students related to local moral and bioethical issues (e.g., Jacksonville pesticide study, Stuckeys groundwater contamination, Brooksville Public Works site). A student Julie said in a class discussion, I drink well water at home and live next to a gas station. Now I wonder about the safety of my drinking water. A student named Robert said, When I bought my home, it never occurred to me that my drinking water may not be safe. Thanks for telling us about these problems. Students recalled the bad things we discussed in class, Kristin said describing her experience. After t he cold writing session, students created
169 categories and I drew a map on the board. Students who participated in the field trip listed topics relevant to the excurs ion to the wastewater plant. Regarding science content, students often listed items rele vant to their home state, such as eutrophication, sinkholes, ozone, and gr oundwater pollution. High on the popularity scale were listings of group acti vities: sinkhole demonstration, plastics recycling activity, and household hazardous waste activity. Even though the controversial issue did not provoke empat hy or emotion, the justice issue of owning a plastic lawn was a popular topic of discussion. Students reported political topics, such as voting, the war, EPA, and Bush Administration on their cold writing lists. Students recalled the health and environmental effects associated with the atomic bombs, Lebanese oil spill, Agent Orange, depleted uranium, especially t he birth defects. Animal testing, toxicology, and lethal doses of common substances affected students (e.g., lima beans and cyanide). Students recalled details about my personal life during the cold writing sessions: anti-war activism, public access talk show, and my boyfriends election for Congress. A few students recalled the humorous animal photos I embedded within the slide presentat ions to enliven the lectures. Students recalled environmental scare stor ies (e.g., Cranberry Scare, asbestos) and oddball trivia (e.g., tomato plants growing outside wastewater tanks) associated with environmental science. St udents were very interested in history and trivia, often exclaiming, I didnt k now that! I never learned that!
170 Generational Responses to the Environmental Course The composition of the environmental class was notably multicultural in relation to age differences. The traditional-age (Millennial) students and nontraditional age students (Generation X ers and Baby Boomers) responded differently in the environmental course. The mature students showed more desire to learn, participation in class discussions, high quality of writing in term papers, and increased awareness and skeptic ism of government and corporate entitities. The mature students showed a strong work ethic and enjoyed writing the reaction papers. The quality of t heir term papers was richer and showed a level of pride. They preferred the lecture delivery via discussion format or a combination of Power Point presentat ions and discussion. Some mature students actually preferred the traditional board methods so they could see and write the notes. Generation Xers and Baby Boomers we re very interested in learning about the environment, paid attention in class, and admitted to change in environmental attitude and behavior. They were concerned about the future of the planet for their children and grandchildren and understood the politics behind the environment. They did not seem surprised or shocked about the governments involvement or lack of involvement concerning peoples exposure to environmental contamination. What I discovered during the study is Howe and Strauss research on generations appeared off base or outdated. Their first book Generations
171 appeared in 1991 and subsequent books on Millennials appeared in 2000. Their labeling of Generation Xers as a slacker or whatever generation appears untrue by todays standard. Generati on Xers are mature, dependable, lawabiding citizens who care about their fu ture. From my observations in the environmental course, the Millennials appear sheltered, clueless, uninvolved, and afraid to own an opinion. The excepti on to this opinion was my observations concerning African-American students. Shaneka noted, My opinion mattered. The African-American students, especially the females, actively participated in discussions and wrote heart-felt reaction papers. Most offered an opinion during discussions, especially the female students. They lived at home and relied on their parents gratitude for living expenses. They did not worry about their future. Oblingers (2003) description was c onsistent with my data when he noted Millennials preference for group activities identification with parents values, fascination with technologies, and racial divers ity. According to Blackhurst and Foster (2003), the Millennials have faith in the government and institutions. Some of the aforementioned characteristics may actually be true of every new rising generation. As Debbie, a Generation Xer, stated in a reaction paper As you age, you care more. Possibly some of Howe and Strauss notations concerning generations are not unique to spec ific generations but are typical of every new generation. I did notice Millennials lack of interest in citizenship and environmental political involvement, although some 18 year old students were interested in
172 voting. This contradicts Howe and Strau ss declaration that Millennials are civicminded (Howe & Strauss, 2000). The Millennials appeared to be grade conscious and appreciated a detailed syllabus. They inquired about extra credit opportunities (rarely taking advantage of them), turned in papers late, and seemed carefree about the college experienc e. Millennials, as well as other generations, were comfortable communica ting through email. Some Millennials showed little respect for authority as described in email communications. Regarding the lecture delivery met hod, they enjoyed the use of Power Point presentations due to convenience (hand-outs versus note writing) videos feeding their need for visual stimuli. Millennials appeared more interested in their social life, employment, and home lives than school achievement. Absenteeism was prevalent. During the class, some Millennials would lay their heads on desks in boredom. The Millennials appeared as the Generation Xer s described in Howe & Strauss books. Implications to Undergraduate Science Education The research study embedding controversial issues within an environmental science course shed light on the elements necessary for an issue to be deemed controversial by students. Some science education researchers examine the influence of STS issues in science curriculum and measure students responses to researcher-scrip ted dilemmas. The scripted dilemmas are assumed to be controversial, thus, a ffecting students values. However, from
173 my experience, researcher scripted d ilemmas may lack the necessary element for controversyinjustice. Issues of in justice, especially with cases of abuse, inequality, and absence of freedom of vul nerable populations, affect cognitive dissonance. In addition, the research study dul y supported Festingers theory of cognitive. Cognitive dissonance served as a motivator for students with an openmind toward environmental science, enabling the possibility of reflective thinking. Conservative students with deep convictions reacted to the controversial issues by clinging to their beliefs, even in the face of evidence. Those students reinforced their pre-reflective thinking wit h social reinforcement from authoritative figures (e.g., husband, parents). This aspect is particularly useful to science education researchers in respect to the controversy surrounding the teaching of Creationism alongside Evolution. According to Festingers theory, students with weak or moderate religious convictions may be more accepting to scientific theories. They are likely to react positively and accept new informati on, using reflective thinking pathways. On the contrary, students with deeply held religious convictions may actually adhere tightly to their beliefs, even in the presence of irrefutable scientific evidence. Their deeply held convictions will be reinforced through their social system (e.g., family, ministers), resulting in refusal to accept scientific proof. It is often easier for a person to deal with cognitive dissonance in the face of evidence than break away from family tr adition or groupthink opinion.
174 Students are often criticized as not bei ng critical thinkers or having an opinion. In the traditional teacher-center ed classroom setting, students typically watch Power Point presentations, listen to lectures, and copy board written notes with the intention of passing a mid-term and final exam. Normally a technically written term paper provides additional grade assessment. Students are unable to provide evidence of original thought and critical thinking if a course does not encourage discussion. Often the discussion format in college courses is offered at the gr aduate level. The research study showed undergraduate non-science majors benefited from a public forum and the opportunity to maintain a diary of opinions in the form of reflective essays. This provided an opportunity for analysis of conflicts and synthesis of newly formed ideas. Using the reactions papers in t he environmental science course served as a tool to recall topics discussed in cla ss and reinforced reflective thinking. Overall, using reflective writing exerci ses as a learning method are beneficial to both students and researchers. Non-science majors are often intimidated by the thought of taking a science course and do not understand its relev ance to their desired major. The environmental science course I created engaged students in both science content and its practical applications to everyday life. Students drew connections between the science content, developed an extended interest in environmental science, changed home behavioral habits, and shared their newfound interest with loved ones. The course evolved in to a family experience since students
175 shared information learned with sons, daught ers, and friends. Students invited significant others to the class field tr ip. The environmental science course was truly a community experience. The elements of the science reform movement came into fruition as students used cooperative learning and developed an understanding of the connections and complexities of ecol ogical systems, understood the personal and social perspectives of environmental science, and the history and nature of science. In addition, the environmental course promoted civics and government, the roles of citizens in American democracy, and offered solutions to citizen participation. Lastly, the research study provided information not only to science education researchers but those involv ed in science communications. Media moguls often wonder what kind of televisi on programs entice viewers to want to know more. They may possibly wonder, What kind of science news provokes the general public? The study en lightened scientific journalists or communication specialists on techniques to interest the general public (i.e., nonscience majors) in science issues. Recommendations for Further Research Future studies on students response to embedding controversial issues within the environmental science curricu lum may examine case studies of students. A few articulate students ma y be followed through the course. Oneon-one interviewing may assist the resear cher in probing specific research
176 questions as they emerge. After the course has terminated, follow-up interviews may reveal additional useful information. An interesting twist may be to interview family members or significant others to ev aluate attitudinal or behavioral changes associated with the course. This may assist in confirming self-reported data. Diverse character studies may assist in delving futher into specific themes that emerged. For example, a charac ter study may be performed on a student with strong conservative political leanings particularly a military background. A student with open-minded progressive leanings provides a contrast. Another research combination may be to examine the generational differences in-depth by studying a Millennial, Generation Xer and Baby Boomer. The multi-cultural ethnic and race aspect may provide further in sight into the cultural responses at work. The various blends of character studies are important to future science education research in using controversial issues in undergraduate science courses. A science education researcher may implement a curriculum similar to the dissertation research study, evaluating t he responses to the students. It would be fascinating to examine generalization of the techniques or topics used in the course. A researcher in another region of the country may have to tweak the science content (e.g., study of sinkholes) relating to local interests of the students. Local environmental contaminant problems and bioethical issues may strengthen students responses.
177 Future studies may further exami ne the generational responses to science reform methods in an undergraduate science course. Responses to the lecture methods, including the use of discussion, may be an area of interest. Since science instructors intentions are to reac h all students in the class, this area of research is significant to the mix ed-age audience often observed in todays colleges and universities. Conclusion Overall, the students appeared responsive to the controversial issues embedded in the environmental course. They appeared to enjoy the use of reform methods in course, including use of open discussion format, cooperative learning, field trips, classroom demonstration, and various media (e.g., videos, documentaries). The study showed the use of controversial issues in the environmental science course stimulat ed reflective thinking and encouraged the expression of environmental advocacy beyond the classroom. Students expressed participation in energy and water conservation, recycling practices, political involv ement, and joining environmental groups. Students shared information with outsiders, such as family, friends, and coworkers when they deemed it personally or so cietally relevant (e.g., pertaining to family, health, safety, homelife, politics). Generational differences in students were observed in their openness to discuss controversial issues, ability to self-express, attitude toward the environment, quality of writing, and involvem ent in the educational process. The
178 Generation Xers and Baby Boomers appeared to be very interested in learning about the environment, paid attention in class, and admitted to change in environmental attitude and behavior. Most of the Millennials appeared as quiet, self-absorbed students more interested in grades and their social life than citizenship and activism.
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195 Appendix A: Course Syllabus COURSE OUTLINE Environmental Science SCI 1001 Week 1 Lecture: Chapter 1Introduction, histor y of environmental science and notable environmental disasters Assignment for Week 2 : Read Chapter 7 and 8 Chapter 7 Water: Hydrologic Cycle and Human Use Chapter 8 Soil: Foundation for land ecosystems HomeworkReading and assigned questions Week 2 Discussion and elaboration of r eading assignment and student homework. Lecture/Discussion: Hydrologic cycle In class demonstration: Sinkhole model Assignment for Week 3 : Read Chapter 17 and 18 Chapter 17 Water: Pollution and Prevention Chapter 18 Municipal Solid Waste: Disposal and Recovery HomeworkReading and assigned questions Week 3 Discussion and elaboration of r eading assignment and student homework. Lecture/Discussion: Water pollution and solid waste In class demonstration: Solid waste Writing Project 1 Student will choose a current event in the news based on the topics explored thus fa r, and research the topic in greater depth and write a 3 page mini mum report outlining the news coverage of the topic. The report is due WEEK 5. Assignment for Week 4 : Read Chapter 19 Chapter 19 Hazardous Chemicals: Pollution and Prevention HomeworkReading and assigned questions Week 4 Discussion and elaboration of r eading assignment and student homework. Lecture/Discussion: Hazardous waste In class demonstration: Hazardous waste Assignment for Week 5 : Read Chapters 15 and 16 Chapter 15 Environmental Hazards and Human Health Chapter 16 Pests and Pest Control HomeworkReading and assigned questions
196 Appendix A (Continued) Week 5 Discussion and elaboration of r eading assignment and student homework. Lecture/Discussion: Environmental health and pesticides Assignment for Week 6 : Read Chapters 20 and 21 Chapter 20 The Atmosphere: Climate, Climate Change, and Ozone Depletion Chapter 21 Atmospheric Pollution HomeworkReading and assigned questions Writing Project 1 due Week 6 Discussion and elaboration of r eading assignment and student homework. Lecture/Discussion: Atmospheric pollution, global warming Writing Project 2 Student will choose a current event in the news based on the topics explored thus fa r, and research the topic in greater depth and write a 3 page mini mum report outlining the news coverage of the topic. The report is due WEEK 7 Assignment for Week 8 : Read Chapters 2--4 Chapter 2 Ecosystems: What They Are Chapter 3 Ecosystems: How They Work Chapter 4 Ecosystems: How They Change HomeworkReading and assigned questions Week 7 Discussion and elaboration of r eading assignment and student homework. Lecture/Discussion: Ecosystems Assignment for Week 9 : Read Chapters 12 Chapter 12 Energy from Fossil Fuels Chapter 13 Energy from Nuclear Power Chapter 14 Renewable Energy HomeworkReading and assigned questions Writing Project 2 due Week 8 HOLIDAY No class Week 9 Discussion and elaboration of r eading assignment and student homework. Lecture/Discussion: Fossil fuels and energy Assignment for Week 10 : Read Chapters 22 and 23 Chapter 22 Economics: Public Policy, and the Environment Chapter 23 Sustainable Communities and Lifestyles HomeworkReading and assigned questions Appendix A (Continued)
197 Week 10 Discussion and elaboration of r eading assignment and student homework. Lecture/Discussion: Economics and sustainable communities HomeworkAssigned questions Clear Lake Activity and video Week 11 Discussion of current events Review for Final Exam Week 12 FINAL EXAM
198 APPENDIX B: Course Curriculum Week 1 Topics Introductory lectureHistory of env ironmental science and environmental scares, including Cranberry Scare, cyclam ates, saccharin, Times Beach, Love Canal, Asbestos in hair dryers, Earth Day, formation of EPA, Three Mile Island, Alar. Also, Chapter 1What is a t heory, pseudoscience, Easter Island Have/Have Not Story News Articles Discussed EPA Encouraging Pesticide Companies to Conduct Human Studies, by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility; Stop Human Pesticide Testing by pacforachange.com; Plans to Test Anthrax Vaccine on Children Criticized in Tampa Tribune dated 7/16/05 Activity None Week 2 Topics Water: The Hydrologic Cycle and Human Usespecial emphasis on sinkhole formation Soil: Foundation for Land Ecosystems News Articles Discussed His grass is always greener in St. Pete Times Floridian Section, dated July 30, 2005 (plastic lawn article), Continued information on Jacksonville pesticide study with EPA Nominee Advocates Human Guinea Pigs in Intervention Magazine dated March 19, 2005; Human Pesticide Test Data Used by EPAExperiments Deliberately Exposed Subjects to Poisons by John Heilprin, AP, dated June 16, 2005 (incl. UCLA study with college students [Tri-Con] who were paid $15/hr for exposure); Mentioned Bill to save the horse slaughter; Unborn Babies Soaked in Chemicals, Study Finds in Reuters, dated July 14, 2005; Flushing wrong items clogs sewage system in Tampa TribuneFall 2005; Teflon challenged on safety in St. Pete Times in Summer 2005; Screening to Test Effects of Teflon Chemical in Water AP dated July 8, 2005; Pesticide Enforcement Too Lax, Lawmakers SayMany Farms Not Inspected in Tampa Tribune dated January 24, 2006; Wetlands could get easier to destroyBuilders and developers would take the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers out of the Process, leaving fewer hurdles, in St. Pete Times, dated Ju ly 31, 2005; Number of EPA Suits Drops Under Bush in Tampa Tribune dated October 31, 2004
199 Appendix B (Continued) **Special ethical case Discussed former Stuckeys project in Punta Gorda, Florida Activity Sinkhole model Week 3 Topic Solid Waste and Water Pollution New Articles Discussed Companies to Rein in Teflon Chemical in Tampa Tribune dated January 26, 2006; Despite hurricanes, floods, and delugeAre Wasting Too Much Water in St. Pete Times Parade Section dated Ap ril 24, 2005; Gulf rigs could tar both coasts in St. Pete Time dated Nove mber 14, 2005; Clim ate Expert Claims NASA Tried to Hush Him in St. Pete Times January 2006 (derived from New York Times); Marion County Pair Arrest ed on Felony Pollution Violation dated May 8, 2003, FDEP website; Public water will be their private sewer in St. Pete Times in Summer 2005; Deadly ImmunityWhen a study revealed that mercury in childhood vaccines may have caused autism in thousands of kids, the government rushed to conceal the data and to prevent parents from suing drug companies for their role in the epidemic in Salon.com on June 16, 2005; Weedkiller Linked to Frogs Deaths in Tampa Tribune via St. Louis PostDispatch during Summer 2005; Toxic RecylingWhat Happens to Americas High-tech Trash? Ask the Inmates at Atwater Penitentiary in The Nation dated November 21, 2005; Follow-up on plastic grass storyLetter to the editor This Grass is Bad News in St. Pete Times dated August 6, 2005; Read Sierra Clubs newsletter discussing t he logging of the redwood trees in the Giant Sequoia forest; Also discussed the Bush Admin. Approval of dynamiting the Everglades for limerock; Put website address on the board for Sierra Club Activity Group activity concerning plastic recycling items and numerical nomenclature system Handout: Voting History of FL House & Senate Reps
200 Appendix B (Continued) Week 4 Topic Hazardous Waste News Articles Discussed How many people died during World War II? at www.faqfarm.com ; Years LaterA look back at the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in St. Pete Times dated August 6, 2005; Mortality in US Army Gulf War Veterans Exposed to 1991 Khamisiyah Chemical Munitions De struction in American Journal of Public Health dated August 2005; Depleted uranium casts a shadow over peace in Iraq in New Scientist April 2003; Radioactive Wounds of War in These Times dated August 25, 2005; Depleted uranium in The Ecologist dated March 2003; th Congress: H.R. 202: D epleted Uranium Screening and Testing Act of 2005 in www.govtrack.us ; Fact Sheet: Defense Department describes depleted uranium use in USIS Washington File dated May 3, 1999 ( www.fas.org ); The Half-Life of Knowledge in Mother Jones dated November 2005; War on the Environment in The Ecologist dated May 2003; Democrats Denounce Bushs Human Pesticide Testi ng Plan in Truthout dated January 23, 2006 ; Grease Fuel Wont Fry Bank AccountsPumping Veggie Oil is Gaining in Vogue in Sarasota Herald-Tribune dated Fall 2005; Study Says Global Warming a Threat to Sea Life by Jeremy Lovell, Reuters dated June 30, 2005; Two Arrested for Dumping Alligator into Los Angeles in Reuters dated August 25, 2005; Defenders of Wildlife Campaign to Save Alaskas Wolves dated February 8, 2006 Activity Group exercise: hazardous wastes in the home Handout: geological cross-section and groundwater direction map from contamination assessment report Week 5 Topics Pests and Pesticides; Risk and Health Hazards News Articles Discussed Indictment Says Homeless Duped to Stri p Asbestos dated April 25, 1998 in LA Times; Cases of fabricated medical data on rise dated July 10, 2005 in St. Pete Times; Homeless Removed Asbestos dated February 8, 2004 in Tampa Tribune; Info on Stauffer Chemical Co ., Superfund site in Tarpon Springs, Florida (USEPA website); Stauffer health st udies are reason for concern dated
201 Appendix B (Continued) December 29, 2005 in St. Pete Times; US Criticized for Use of Phosphorus in Fallujah Raids dated November 9, 2005 in The Independent UK; Lead poisoning kills children in Kosovo dated February 5, 2006 in New York Times; MIT, Quaker Oats to settle radiation experiment suit dated December 31, 19997 in US News/CNN website; Researc hers Tested AIDS Drugs on Foster Children dated May 5, 2005, Associat ed Press; Panel endorses limited toxin testing on humans; Critics say it will w eaken public health protections dated February 20,2004 in Baltimore Sun; Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him dated January 29, 2006 in New York Times; excerpts of Reflection on Human Radiation Experiment sA Dark Spot in the History of American Science by Chyrisse P. Tabone Activity PBS Video Bill Moyers NOW on Global Warming Handout: Common Carcinogenic Hazards from Ames, B.N. and 1983/Ames et al.,1987 Week 6 Topics Atmospheric Pollution and the Atmospher e: Climate, Climate Change, and Ozone News Articles Discussed Theme of class is Hope: Read from Ways You Can Love Your Country by Move.org Activities Video: Daily Show segment about plas tic lawn in St. Petersburg, Florida (August 2005); segment on Hurricane Katrina, Mardis Gras (March 2006) and Pinellas Countys South Cross Bayou video Hand-out: Global warming map Feeling the Burn from Mother Jones, May/June 2005 and Global Warming Fast Facts by Brian Handwerk, National Geographic News Week 7 Topics Ecosystems (board driven lecture) New Articles Discussed New study explores spectrum of tr avel-related illnesses dated February 28, 2006 in St. Pete Times; Pride and prejudi ce are preventing health care reform (Paul Krugman) dated February 2006 in New York Times; Food Safety First dated March 2, 2006 in St. Pete Time s; Feds May Remove Some Food Warning Labels dated March 2, 2006 (AP); Antarcticas ice melts faster than snowfall can replace it dated March in Los Angeles Times; Listed statistics on
202 Appendix B (Continued) GOP and George Bush Activities Video segments from National Geographic Channel Video Library (e.g., wind power, Florida panther, Lyme disease, aquaculture, flood control in Netherlands) Week 9 HolidayI emailed articles to read about global warming, HR503House Bill concerning wild mustangs, air shooting of wolves in Alaska, and a list of environmental organizations (e.g., Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund) Week 9 Topics Fossil Fuels New Articles Discussed Discussed current topics in the news: 14 Points of Fascism from the Old American Century website http://www.oldamericanc entury.org/14pts.htm information about Geneva Conventions fr om the ICRC in Africa website http://www.icrc.org statistics on Halliburton, the Iraq Conflict, etc. from Jim Hightowers Lowdown Volume 8, Number 8, dated August 2006, Handout: Action Guide for Depleted Uranium/Gulf War Syndrome from http://www.iacenter.org Week 10 Topics Economics and Sustainability New Articles Discussed Current news Activities Video segment about depleted uranium called Poison Dust Group activity: Cross Bar Ranchs Clear Lake group activity Week 11 Current Topics
203 Appendix C: Environmental Science Inventory ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE CLASS INVENTORY Gender Male Female Age range 18 to 25 26 to 42 43 to 60 Years since had a science course 0 to 5 years 6 to 10 years 11 to 20 years 20+ years What is your majo r area of study? _________________________ Did you vote in 2004? Yes No Do you plan to vote in 2006? Yes No Think back to before you enrolled in your Environmental Science class 1. Did you think the class would be difficult? Yes No Maybe 2. Did you know that environm ental science was political? Yes No 3. Did you know that environmental science had controversial issues? Yes No If, yes..name an issue you were aware of ________________________ 4. What was your level of in terest in the environment? Didnt care Somewhat cared Cared a lot 5. Did you read about the environment or watch television programs? Yes No
204 Appendix C (Continued) Now that you have taken the Environmental Science Class 6. Name a fact that you learned in class that surprised you? __________________________________________________________ 7. Have you shared your classroom experience with friends and/or family members? Yes No With whom?______________ 8. Did you find any of the discussions in class to be uncomfortable or unsettling? If yes..what aspect affected you? ________________________________ Not at all Neut ral Very uncomfortable 1 2 3 4 5 9. How has learning about environmental science influenced your way of thinking? _____________________________________________________________ 11. What level of interest do you have in being more active in the environmental movement? No interest Some interest Very interested 12. Have your behavioral habits changed since taking the class? Yes No Maybe If yes, name a few examples __________________________________ 17. Which specific activities performed in class did you enjoy? Enjoyed the most ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ Enjoyed the least ____________________________
205 Appendix C (Continued) 18. Rank your teaching method prefererences? (Power points (PP), writing on the board, discussion, combo of P. P. & discussion, combo of PP and writing on the board, combo of writing on the board and discussion) Enjoyed the most ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ Enjoyed the least ____________________________ 19. To what extent did you like writing the Reaction Papers? Explain: Any other comments about anything you learned or your classroom experience:____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________
206 Appendix D: Doctoral Colleague Attestation
207 Appendix E: IRB Review Letter and Adult Informed Consent Form
208 Appendix E (Continued)
209 APPENDIX F Frequency Tables and Pie C harts of Environmental Science Inventory Data Table 1. Demographic Snaphot of Students Frequency Percent Gender Female Male 52 14 78.8 21.2 Age range 18 to 25 years (Millennial) 26 to 42 years (Gen X) 42 to 60 years (Baby Boomer) 23 34 9 34.8 51.5 13.6 Years since last science course 0 to 5 years 6 to 10 years 11 to 20 years 20+ years 23 16 20 7 34.8 24.2 30.3 10.6 Major Undecided Medical Paralegal Criminal Justice Business/Marketing Accounting Computers English 1 23 1 21 8 7 4 1 1.5 34.8 1.5 31.8 12.1 10.6 6.1 1.5 Table 2. Voting Record and Future Voting Intentions Vote 2004 YES (Percent) Vote 2004 NO (Percent) Vote 2006 YES (Percent) Vote 2006 NO (Percent) Age Millennials Gen Xers Baby Boomers 27.5 62.5 10 46.2 34.6 19.2 32.6 58.6 8.8 40 35 25 Overall 60.6 39.4 69.7 30.3
210 Appendix F (Continued) Table 3. Prior Perception of Environmental Science Course Frequency Percent Believed the class would be difficult Yes No Maybe 21 24 21 31.8 36.4 31.8 Knew environmental science is political Yes No 28 38 42.4 57.6 Knew environmental science has controversial issues Yes No 40 26 60.6 39.4 Level of interest in the environment Did not care Somewhat cared Cared a lot 6 33 27 9.1 50.0 40.9 Watched environmental shows on television Yes No 45 21 68.2 31.8
211 Appendix F (Continued) Table 4. Interest, Sharing, and Behavior at Eleven Weeks Frequency Percent Shared classroom experience with friends/family Yes No 60 6 90.9 9.1 Level of discomfort during discussions No answer Very comfortable Comfortable Neutral Somewhat uncomfortable Very uncomfortable 1 13 6 19 9 18 1.5 19.7 9.1 28.8 13.6 27.3 Level of interest in the environmental movement No interest Some interest Very interested 5 31 30 7.6 47.0 45.5 Change in behavioral habits since taking course Yes No Maybe 43 8 15 65.2 12.1 22.7
212 Appendix F (Continued) Table 5. Teaching Method Preferences Frequency Percent Preferred teaching method No answer Power Points Writing on board Power Points & discussion Discussion Power Points & board writing Board writing and discussion 3 11 4 17 16 5 10 4.5 16.7 6.1 25.8 24.2 7.6 15.2 Preferred classroom activity Sinkhole demonstration Sinkhole & discussions Plastics recycling activity Discussion Field trip Field trip & reseach paper Group activities Reaction papers 19 4 1 15 6 1 5 1 28.8 6.1 1.5 22.7 9.1 1.5 7.6 1.5
213 Appendix F (Continued) Male FemaleGender Figure 5. Gender 43 to 60 yrs 26 to 42 yrs 18 to 25 yrsAge range Figure 6. Age range
214 Appendix F (Continued) 20+ years 11 to 20 yrs 6 to 10 yrs 0 to 5 yrsYears Figure 7. Years since studying science English Computers Accounting Business/marketing Criminal justice Paralegal Medical 0Major Figure 8. Majors of study
215 Appendix F (Continued ) No Yesvote2004 Figure 9. Voted in 2004 election No Yesvote2006 Figure 10. Intend to vote in 2006 mid-term election
216 Appendix F (Continued) No Yespolitical Figure 11. Students who knew envir onmental science is political No Yesscicontrover Figure 12. Students who knew environmental science has controversial issues
217 Appendix F (Continued) Cared a lot Somewhat cared Did not careinterest Figure 13. Prior to enrollment Level of interest in the environment Very interested Some interest No interestinterestnow Figure 14. After eleven weeks Level of interest in environmental movement
218 Appendix F (Continued) No YeswatchTV Figure 15. Prior to enrollment Reading and watching TV shows about the environment No Yessharing Figure 16. Sharing classroom experience with friends and/or family
219 Appendix F (Continued) Very uncomfortable Somewhat uncomfortable Neutral Comfortable Not at all No answerdiscomfort Figure 17. Level of comfort felt during class discussions Maybe No Yesbehavior Figure 18. Have your behavioral habits changed since taking the course?
220 Appendix F (Continued) Writing on board & discussion PP & writing on board Discussion PP & discussion Writing on board Power Points No answerteachmethod Figure 19. Student pref erred teaching methods
221 About the Author Chyrisse P. Tabone received a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science from Florida Institute of Tec hnology in 1983, a Masters of Science Degree in Science Education (Chemistry Option) from Florida International University in 1991, and a Masters of Science in Public Health Degree in Toxicology from University of South Florida in 2002. She has worked professionally as an environmental scientis t for over 20 years, specializing in petroleum contamination and hazardous waste. Ms. Tabone entered the Ph.D. program in Curriculum and Instruction (Science Education) at the University of South Florida in 2002. She has instructed college level environmental cour ses for approximately two years. Ms. Tabone has also coauthored an article in Science Teacher, performed several paper presentations at various scienc e education associations, and developed curriculum for a local environmental science center.