Author(s)Wolff, Camra Lee
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AbstractEnvironmental education, as a component of the school curriculum, is unique. Some aspects of the content change rapidly with new research, and environmental education is a relative newcomer to the curriculum. Assessment of the status of environmental education, therefore, needs to be done at relatively short intervals in order to assure that the curriculum is relevant and current. No needs assessment instrument could be found which would not only collect information about the quantity and quality of environmental education in a school setting, but also would gather the opinions of both teachers and administrators. The assumption was that knowledge from both levels of staff could provide communication important to the process of developing or modifying an effective, consistent environmental education curriculum. The purpose of the thesis, then, was to determine whether a needs assessment instrument could be developed which would provide useful answers to several questions determined to be helpful to curriculum planners. The procedures included development of the instrument (a questionnaire was chosen due to the desire for anonymity and the number of individuals to be surveyed), pilot testing it for content, length and clarity, administration of the final form of the instrument to a test school district, analysis of the findings, and presentation of the findings in formats which illustrated the ability of the questionnaire to provide information useful to the planning process. It was concluded the needs assessment instrument did gather information about current and desired amounts of environmental education in the curriculum and effectively answered specific questions about topics and methods incorporated in environmental education. Furthermore, the questionnaire collected information which would allow planners to compare responses of teachers who have had environmental education training with responses of teachers who have not had such training. Finally, the survey provided a basis for comparing the opinions of teachers and administrators. In summary, the findings indicate the needs assessment instrument is a useful tool for curriculum planners in collecting much of the information necessary for a thorough needs assessment process. Additionally, the questionnaire is adaptable to diverse circumstances, and can be readily modified. This needs assessment instrument could prove valuable in the continuous process of evaluating and updating the various aspects of an environmental education curriculum with the goal of maintaining relevant and effective content.