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Research

We focus on advancing education and changing behaviour to clean-up waterways and prevent litter from getting to our coasts. To raise awareness and inspire action, we regularly deliver our popular Love your Coast and Love your Water presentations, as well as coordinating “hands-on education” by taking volunteers on beach clean-ups and tree planting activities. To evaluate the effectiveness of our educational programs — and to help us design better activities for the future — we are running a series of comprehensive monitoring and evaluation studies.

 

In 2012 and 2013 we worked with industry experts to develop an innovative framework for measuring the effectiveness of environmental education. Throughout 2014, we used this framework for a comprehensive pilot study to evaluate the effectiveness of our ‘Love Your Coast’ litter education program. See the framework and supporting documentation at the link below. To attendees of COCE 2015: this is the study referenced in our Practice Reflection.

2014 LOVE YOUR COAST STUDY

In 2015, based on the findings and recommendations of the previous study, we have teamed up with Victoria University of Wellington Masters student Sara Stuart to deliver a further refined, more detailed study to better understand the impacts of our ‘Love Your Water’ education program and tree planting activities. This study is ongoing, please feel free to browse through the research documentation below.

2015 LOVE YOUR WATER STUDY

2015 Love Your Water Study

Influence of Education and Connection to Nature on Behaviour

Introduction

This study aims to look at how environmental education programs, such as our Love Your Water program, can foster a connection to nature within their programme.

This research is being run in conjunction with Sara Stuart, a Masters student in Environmental Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. As part of her degree she is undertaking a research project leading to a thesis examining how New Zealand children perceive connection to nature and how this correlates with pro-environmental behaviour.

What is involved?

Children participants aged 8-12 who are involved in our ‘Love Your Water’ freshwater education program are invited to take part in this research. Surveys, designed to take approximately 10 minutes to complete, and randomly conducted interviews of approximately 5 minutes will form the basis of this research project.s part of a class

As part of a class exercise, participants will be asked if they would like to participate in a survey. Teachers will administer the surveys in the classroom and collect them surveys upon completion. Examples of the survey questions are:

  1. Being outdoors makes me happy (Strongly Agree – Strongly Disagree)
  2. Even when the weather is bad I like to play outside (Strongly Agree – Strongly Disagree)

Interviews will be conducted during the tree planting event and 1-2 students in the class will be asked to participate. Students will first be asked if they would like to participate and if they agree then they will be asked to check “I agree to participate in this interview” on their own Consent Form. The interview will be voice recorded. Examples of the interview questions are:

  1. Do you want to show your family and friends the trees that you’re planting?
  2. How do you feel about planting trees?

For more information on this study please download the ‘Parent’s Information Sheet’ through the link on the right.

Docs and Downloads

The documentation below is supplied to schools alongside this study. Please download and read for a full understanding of the research being undertaken.

For parents

Survey + Field Trip Consent Form: For parents to find out more about Sustainable Coastlines’ ‘Love Your Water’ surveys and tree planting activities and consent to their children participating. Download here

Masters Study Consent Form: Requests consent from the participant’s parent or legal guardian for their child to participate in the Victoria University of Wellington research about Connection to Nature; conducted by Sara Stuart. Download here

Masters Study Information Sheet: Information for the participant’s parent(s) about the study, what is involved, what happens with the information that participants provide and contact details for questions or comments. Download here


For participants (school students)

Participant’s Consent Form: Provided to the 2-3 children who will be asked to participate in a short interview on the day of the tree planting event. Download here

Participant’s Information Sheet: Same as the Masters Study Information Sheet, but in child-appropriate language. Download here

Surveys: The written ‘Baseline’ survey that participants complete prior to our visit to their school classroom. Download here

Interview Questions: A summary of the questions that will be asked of the participants (2-3 total) during the tree planting activity. Download here


For schools

School Principal Consent Form: Requests permission from the school principal for their school to participate in the study. Download here

School Teacher(s) Consent Form: Requests permissions from the school teacher(s) to allow Sara Stuart to participate in their class events as a researcher. Download here

Presentation example: Click here to see the Love Your Water presentation delivered to participants as part of this study.

Ethical Considerations

This research project has received approval from the Victoria University Human Ethics Committee. For more detail on this please refer to the Victoria University Ethics Policy by clicking here.

A summary of the primary ethical considerations for this study are listed below: 

  • The information that participants provide will be treated confidentially and no names will be recorded. Reference will be made to the location of the research, i.e., the name of the school, and the name and location of the stream or river in which the tree planting took place.
  • Participants will not be individually identified in the research project or in any other presentation or publication. Participants’ names will not be recorded on the survey or during the interview; therefore it will not be possible to review the individual responses to the questions upon completion. However, upon request a summary of the class findings can be provided following the conclusions of the research project.
  • All material collected will be kept confidential. No other person besides the researcher Sara Stuart, her supervisor (Wokje Abrahamse) and Sustainable Coastlines’ program managers will see the primary material collected.
  • All survey and interview material will be kept safe, locked in a filing drawer and all interview material will be destroyed within one year following the submission of the thesis.

If you have any ethical concerns about the research please contact Associate Professor Susan Corbett (Susan.Corbett@vuw.ac.nz), ph: 04 463 5676, Convener of the Victoria University Human Ethics Committee.

2014 Love Your Coast Study

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Environmental Education

Introduction

Education is a critical instrument in the toolkits many organisations use to take on a wide range of environmental challenges. To evaluate the success of current activities and inform the development of better future programs, it is crucial to gain a detailed understanding of how effective environmental education programs are in achieving their goals.

In 2012 and 2013 we worked with industry experts from Studio Huss to develop a simple, user-friendly framework for evaluating the effectiveness of environmental education that can be replicated and tailored by other organisations.

Throughout 2014, we used this framework for a comprehensive pilot study to measure to what extent Sustainable Coastlines’ ‘Love Your Coast’ litter awareness presentation and other educational intervention tools influenced short- and long-term awareness about litter in the marine environment, as well as its impact on short- and long-term behaviors related to litter.

What was involved?

During the study, school students aged 8-12 years were first asked to complete a ‘Baseline’ survey to gain an understanding of baseline awareness of the core messages and behaviors the presentation aimed to address. The same students then attended a 15-20 minute ‘Love Your Coast’ presentation and within 1-4 weeks of this they completed a second ‘Interim’ survey measure short-term impacts. Finally, 6-9 months after the presentation, the same students completed ‘Post-Intervention surveys to measure sustained awareness and behaviors relating to the messages delivered through the educational intervention.

The results of this study indicate significant increases in ‘awareness score’ following the educational intervention that, despite an expected tapering off by the ‘Post-Intervention’ stage, still represent a statistically significant increase in long-term overall awareness of the key messages delivered. As expected, long-term behaviors were more difficult to influence through the presentation tool only, with only small impacts observed. This insight led to the recommendation and development of additional educational intervention and evaluation tools that Sustainable Coastlines is currently implementing during a comprehensive study in 2015 (see ‘Love Your Water’ study above).

Researchers and practitioners are invited to utilise this evaluation framework and the comprehensive set of documentation provided on this page to tailor this study for the evaluation of their own programs.

Docs and Downloads

The following documentation will be made publicly available following the presentation of this study at The Conference on Communication and Environment in Boulder, Colorado, 11-14 June 2015.

Framework documentation: Notes on the methodology, structure and implementation of the study, as well as answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Download here

Conference presentation: Microsoft Powerpoint presentation about the framework and pilot study delivered at the COCE 2015 conference. Download here (62MB)

Survey examples: The Baseline, Interim and Post-Intervention surveys delivered to study participants. Surveys are editable Microsoft Word documents that can be used as templates for laying out similar surveys.

  1. Baseline survey. Download here
  2. Interim survey. Download here
  3. Post-Intervention survey. Download here

Pledge poster examples: These posters were printed at A2 size and distributed to many school classes following the ‘Love Your Coast’ presentation. Students were asked to vote on which of the three pledges they would most like to take up, the class was then presented with their own copy of this poster, and teachers were asked to get all students to sign the poster and display it on the classroom wall for the rest of the school year. Download here

Presentation example: Click here to see the Love Your Coast presentation delivered to participants as the primary educational intervention during this study. Click here to see a video version of this presentation.

Data entry template: A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet template that is set-up to receive data from the surveys or similar surveys to those provided with this study. The spreadsheet is set-up to be analysed through SPSS, R Data or other analysis software. Download here

Data entry ‘How To’ guide: A step-by-step guide for entering survey data into the data entry template above. Download here

Ethical considerations

A summary of the primary ethical considerations for this study are listed below:

  • The information that participants provided was treated confidentially and no names were recorded. The names and locations of the schools involved in the study were recorded and the results can be segmented into individual schools.
  • Participants were not individually identified in the research project or in any other presentation or publication. Participants’ names were not recorded on the survey; therefore it is not possible to review the individual responses to the questions upon completion.
  • All material collected is kept confidential. No other person besides Sustainable Coastlines’ program managers and data analysts can see the primary material collected.
  • All survey material is kept safe, locked in a filing drawer.