The Influence of a “Natural Exploration” Approach in Developing Environmental Attitudes and Understanding of 3R Principles for Primary School Students
This paper describes the impact of a natural exploration approach in thematic learning to develop environmental attitudes and deeper understanding of the 3R principles (Reduce/Reuse/Recycle) in elementary school students. This research involved a single group (pretest-posttest) of fourth grade students from a public elementary school in Indonesia during the year 2014/2015. Participants were recruited randomly in a class that numbered 36 students. The pedagogical approach used to implement thematic learning with a natural exploration approach were: (1) exploration activities, involving exploration and observation in the local school environment; (2) elaboration activities, where students worked in groups to make predictions about the rubbish problem in their school environment and to propose alternative solutions; (3) confirmation activities, where students in groups communicated their group’s results in a collage exhibition; and (4) assessment activities, using performance capabilities and measuring the students’ environmental attitudes and their understanding of the 3R principles. The research instruments used were: (1) an observation sheet; (2) interviews; and (3) a questionnaire. Data analysis was performed using a dependent t-test. The research demonstrates that a “natural exploration” thematic learning approach can be very effective in improving the environmental attitudes and understandings of 3R principles in fourth grade primary school students.