INTERACTIVE METHODS OF TRAINING IN SUSTAINABLE WASTE MANAGEMENT
Keywords:sustainable development, recycle-reuse-reduce, separate waste collection, pro-ecological behavior
Environmental education addresses the most common and current environmental problems as they could lead to a serious ecological misbalance on Earth. One of them is associated with a huge amount of waste, the need for sustainable management and recovery. For this reason, the topic of sustainable waste management needs to be included in the process of environmental education, to be based on an interdisciplinary approach, to start from an early age and be embedded not only in school curricula but also in extra-curricular activities, to be conducted systematically and methodologically provided.
This paper presents an interactive model for training in sustainable waste management through an activity approach that could be successfully applied in some extra-curricular activities. Didactic instruments have been developed in the course of a project funded by the University of Plovdiv, aiming to enhance the ecological competencies of both pupils (11-13 years’ age) and students (pre-teachers in Biology). The thematic content included four themes: Waste definition and classification, Waste treatment, the Recycling process, and the Composting process. Learning activities and the expected results of the training are defined for each theme. The innovative model of training in sustainable waste management includes four of the most popular interactive educational methods: research-based education, problem-based education, game-based education, and project learning. Worksheets have been developed for all activities, and the thematic content was structured following environmental topics, enabling environmental education through a proactive approach. In order to assess the effectiveness of the interactive methodology, two questionnaires (pre-test and post-test) were developed. Each one consisted of 15 questions allowing the analysis of the environmental competencies of pupils (knowledge, attitude and behavior construct), as well as the attitudes, habits and behavior of both children and their families to the problem of sustainable waste management. The first questionnaire was made before the training in order to determine the entry-level of knowledge and competencies, while the second one was conducted after the training in order to evaluate the competencies’ enhancement.
The experimental trainings conducted (2019-2020) show that these models for training in sustainable waste management, based on the constructivist approach, lead to a significant increase of pro-ecological behavior and can be successfully implemented in the education process. According to the knowledge construct, we found that the working hypothesis was confirmed for 80.2% of the pupils (χ2 = 2.043, p <0.05). Based on the attitude construct, we found that the working hypothesis was confirmed for 46.7% of the pupils (χ2 = 1.205, p <0.05). In the behavior construct, the working hypothesis was confirmed for almost 23% of the pupils who had not had long-term habits for nature conservation and rational use of resources before the time of training (χ2 = 0.383, p <0.05). This was the construct with the lowest positive change from the three studied.
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