"What is the environment anyway?" : a study of children's perceptions of the notion of environment

  • Colleen Carroll

    Student thesis: Professional Doctorate


    This interpretive study focused on the way in which children make sense of the notion of environment. This study attempted a comprehensive examination of children's perceptions of the notion of environment in an Australian context. There is a concerted effort to create environmental education programs targeted for children yet we have little understanding of how children make sense of the concept of environment. The study examined perspectives from children aged 11 to 13 living in close proximity in New South Wales, Australia. Children's perspectives were gathered through a drawing activity as well as small group interviews. In order to provide a larger conceptual picture of children's perceptions data was also gathered from the surrounding community. Parents, teachers, principals and local media's perspectives on the notion of environment were investigated. The study showed that children perceive the environment as nearly synonymous with nature. They also perceive the environment and nature to be a place without people. Children were very concerned about environmental issues, especially issues in their local areas. Children generally did not attribute individuals with responsibility for the environment. Children's ideas were examined alongside those from the broader community revealing relationships and links between community practices and children's perceptions of the environment. This study addresses a gap in the literature by providing a comprehensive exploration of children's perceptions of the notion of the environment and examining links to the portrayal of environment in the context of the surrounding community. Findings provided a solid basis upon which to augment the design of programs in environmental education.
    Date of Award2002
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMarilyn Fleer (Supervisor) & Carole Kayrooz (Supervisor)

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