Assessing Changes in High School Students' Environmental Decision-Making Skills: Some Methodological Contributions.
Author(s)Switzer, Anne C.
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AbstractIn this study, I developed three methods for the assessment of high-school students??? environmental decision-making skills. The three methods were developed based on perspectives of decision-making expertise in psychology and are named Satisfying Results, Coherence, and Process Decomposition. Satisfying Results looked directly at the choices students made, Coherence looked at the match between students??? choices and their values, and Satisfying Results focused on individual steps of decision-making, with my focus being consequential thinking. With these three methods, I examined changes in 172 secondary students??? environmental decision-making skills. The students in the sample studied the first unit of Investigations in Environmental Science: A Case-Based Approach to the Study of Environmental Science (CASES), a curriculum designed for grades 9-12. Integrated with the science content in CASES, students were introduced to the Stakeholder-Consequences Decision Making (SCDM) process. I pre- and post-tested students who experienced the first out of three units of CASES. I used the New Ecological Paradigm scale to look at students??? values, as that was necessary for the Coherence perspective. The students??? results varied with the decision-making perspective as well as with instruction of two CASES teachers. Relative to instruction, classroom management and the values exemplified by the teacher were examined. The overall results reflect that the assessment methods were able to detect positive gains based on particular goals that CASES stated for teaching environmental decision-making. Specifically, there was evidence of progress with both the ???Coherence??? and ???Process Decomposition??? results, which were goals of CASES. The methodology used in this study may be useful for grounding future studies of students??? decision-making skills. In particular, the methods developed here can be utilized for matching assessment methods to teaching goals, as well as to entering the realm of assessment for learning.