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Effects of childhood setting and interaction with nature on academic performance in introductory college-level courses in the environmental sciences

Spero, Melanie A. and Balster, Nick J. and Bajcz, Alex W. (2019) Effects of childhood setting and interaction with nature on academic performance in introductory college-level courses in the environmental sciences. Environmental Education Research, 25 (3). pp. 422-442. ISSN 1350-4622. doi:10.1080/13504622.2018.1496405. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20190809-091125884

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Abstract

This study explored the relationships between student background and academic performance in college introductory environmental science (ES) courses at a large U.S. research university with the premise that this analysis may inform teaching practices, curricula, and efforts to increase retention. We surveyed over 700 students across eleven introductory ES courses and used multiple linear mixed-effects regressions to model the data. We found that students who grew up in rural settings or who had frequent childhood interactions with natural environments earned higher grades, on average, than students from urban settings or with fewer childhood interactions with natural environments. Our results indicate that students reporting frequent childhood interactions with forests, for example, were projected to earn grades up to 1.5 letter grades higher in these courses than students with no such interactions. In addition, students with frequent childhood interactions with nature were likelier to report that such interactions helped them in their ES course, suggesting that these students may recognize the value of these experiences. Greater interest in the subject matter also correlated with higher ES course grades, whereas amount of prior ES coursework did not. We discuss the possible implications of these correlations for ES academic performance and educational practice.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2018.1496405DOIArticle
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6726435/PubMed CentralArticle
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Spero, Melanie A.0000-0003-3291-2138
Bajcz, Alex W.0000-0002-5909-4676
Additional Information:© 2019 Taylor & Francis. Received 03 Jan 2018, Accepted 21 Jun 2018, Published online: 22 Oct 2018. This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-1231286, and was completed as part of the Delta Program in Research, Teaching & Learning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. MAS was supported by a traineeship from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number T32GM008349. We thank the reviewers for providing feedback that improved and clarified this manuscript.
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSFDUE-1231286
University of Wisconsin-MadisonUNSPECIFIED
NIH Predoctoral FellowshipT32GM008349
Subject Keywords:Environmental science, introductory course, student background, rural, interest
Issue or Number:3
DOI:10.1080/13504622.2018.1496405
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190809-091125884
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20190809-091125884
Official Citation:Melanie A. Spero, Nick J. Balster & Alex W. Bajcz (2019) Effects of childhood setting and interaction with nature on academic performance in introductory college-level courses in the environmental sciences, Environmental Education Research, 25:3, 422-442, DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1496405
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:97716
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:09 Aug 2019 18:06
Last Modified:16 Feb 2022 22:46

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