Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Environmental education--Iowa; Children and the environment; Children--Attitudes;


As a result of the growing concern about environmental issues, many countries have developed mechanisms and regulations directed at protection and conservation of the environment. As a part of this movement, many governmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) have launched a variety of environmental education programs, in an attempt to promote awareness of environmental issues. The Iowa Children’s Water Festival (ICWF) is an annual half-day environmental education program in Iowa. The goal of the ICWF is to provide educational opportunities throughout the state to K-5 children and to educate customers of tomorrow on the importance of safe, reliable drinking water (ICWF, 2004). The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of the Iowa Children’s Water Festival on selected Iowa fifth graders’ attitudes toward the environment. The researcher evaluated fifth graders’ attitudinal/behavioral changes toward the environment before and after their participation in the 2003 Iowa Children’s Water Festival.

Of the total number of 38 schools participating in the ICWF, 12 schools (participants n = 274) that completed both the pre/posttest Children’s Attitudes Toward the Environment Scale (CATES) were assigned to the experimental group. Three of 12 schools (participants n = 42) that did not participate in the ICWF and returned the pretest CATES were assigned to the control group. Participants (n = 274) were compared to non-participants (n = 42) to determine whether there were substantial differences in the general attitudes toward the environment based on several factors (e.g., pre/posttest, gender, locale, and school type). A one-page survey instrument (CATES) was administered two times (pre/posttest) in a three week period for both groups. Descriptive, inferential statistics were used to investigate whether children who participated in the ICWF improved their attitudes toward the environment compared to children who did not participate in the educational event. An analysis of covariance was employed to test the hypothesis. ANCOVA (regression fashion) indicated that there was no difference in posttest CATES scores between those children who attended the ICWF compared to those who did not attend.

To explore the long-term impacts of the participants’ attitudinal/ behavioral changes, a qualitative follow-up interview was conducted six months after the children’s attendance at the 2003 ICWF. Six students from a central, rural elementary school that completed both the pre/posttest CATES were interviewed employing open-ended interview questions. Responses for the major questions indicated that knowledge gain, new behavioral changes, and retaining specific information occurred after children’s participation in the ICWF. The results also suggested that not only are such factors as knowledge gain and behavioral changes critical in the continuum of behavioral change, but factors like family involvement, teacher’s enthusiasm and role-modeling, student’s internal locus of control on environmental issues, and a curriculum that is hands-on are also essential for reaching the ultimate goals of forming environmentally responsible behaviors in younger children.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Catherine Zeman, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 125 pages)



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