Study Finds That Outdoor Education Can Close the Racial Gap in Environmental Literacy

NCSU_Seal_by_clandrigan757A study by researchers at North Carolina State University in Raleigh found that when middle school students were taken outdoors to learn about environmental science, they were more likely to perform better academically in the subject compared to their white peers than in cases when all students remained in the classroom for instruction.

Kathryn Stevenson, a graduate student at North Carolina State and lead author of the study, stated, “We are interested in whether outdoor experiences can be part of a catch-up strategy that can help in narrowing the environmental literacy gap for minority students.”

“This is one of the first studies on a broad scale to focus on environmental literacy, which is more than mastering facts,” said co-author Nils Peterson, associate professor of fisheries and wildlife in the College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University. “Being environmentally literate means that students learn cognitive skills so that they can analyze and solve problems, and it involves environmental attitudes and behaviors as well.”

The study, “Environmental, Institutional, and Demographic Predictors of Environmental Literacy among Middle School Children,” was published online at PLOS ONE and is available here.

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