Pupils' understanding of the concept of environment: a case study of standard seven pupils in Nyanza Province, Kenya
Otewa, John Odhiambo
MetadataShow full item record
The study, resulting into this thesis, was based on the awareness that humanity's survival and prosperity depend on the finite resources and life supporting systems (e.g. water, air and soil) all of which are rapidly deteriorating from the surface of the earth. This awareness was first echoed in 1972 at the International Conference on Human Environment at Stockholm and later incorporated into the school curriculum in the member states through the recommendation of Tbilisi Conference of 1977. In Kenya, formal infusion of environmental concepts into the school curriculum, from primary to tertiary levels, started in 1985. But, since environmental degradation has continued unabated, threatening the well being and sometimes the very survival of life on earth, there seemed to be a deficiency in the implementation process of such infused environmental concepts in the school system. In an attempt to investigate the causes of this deficiency, this study endeavoured to provide answers to the following questions: what prior knowledge did Standard Seven pupils have on the concept of environment before it was formally taught; and did the prior knowledge have effect on the pupils' understanding of the concept when it was formally taught as outlined in Standard Seven science course? The study focused on pupils' understanding of environmental principles, namely: meaning of environment; components of environment; pollution of environment and conservation of environment which are included in the topic "Our Environment" in Standard Seven science course. The study involved 288 Standard Seven pupils, eighteen head-teachers, eighteen Standard Seven science teachers and twelve cultural opinion leaders from Gusii and Luo communities. Various research instruments were used to I investigate the target population's perception of the environment, including Environment Apperception Test (EAT) for pupils and Interview Schedule for cultural opinion leaders. The findings of the study were that: the pupils' prior knowledge of the concept of the environment was that environment is constituted by a single component of the wider environment, for example water, soil, air, plants or animals; the sources of the pupils' perception included the pupils' communities' perception of environment and the schools' presentation of environmental concepts in the school curriculum from Standard One to Six; and that the pupils' prior knowledge affected their understanding of the concept when it was formally taught to them under the unit "Our Environment" in Standard Seven science course. The Study therefore recommends that the curriculum development, the teaching and evaluation of environmental concepts in the school curriculum be systematic. This implies that different concepts of the environment are to be taught in different classes in the school system accordingly and the content be evaluated comprehensively so as to draw the attention of the examiners, the teachers and the learners on the concepts of environment infused in the school curriculum.