The International Journal of Educational Researchers, vol.3, no.1, pp.33-45, 2012 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)
Abstract: Improvement of awareness and positive attitudes towards the environment is certainly challenging, but not impossible. Programs specifically designed towards the raising of environmental awareness are called for in tackling such challenges. This paper describes the concept, content and application of an outdoor environmental education project that is implemented mostly in nature and supported by TUBITAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) in 2008 and 2009. The program for the project was prepared by taking into consideration basic principles of ecology and experimental design. Training activities forming the project were carried out in and round various districts (counties) in the province of Canakkale namely; Can, Ezine, Bayramic, Eceabat and Bozcaada. Canakkale’s natural features (flora, fauna, geology, geomorphology), and anthropogenic, social and cultural richness were used as examples. The education was conducted interactively. In keeping with the aim and scope of the project, participants were introduced to and made aware of the need for conservation in these ields. Aditionally, it was intended that ecological knowledge would be gained and bsorbed by the target group which would result in increased environmental awareness. Activities were intended to be practical rather than theoretical and performed completely in the field. All participants actively joined in the activities. The project activities included qualitative as well as quantitative observation, problem-based tasks, along with brain storming within a learner-centered free-thinking atmosphere, with the aim of achieving an idea-yielding, capacity-building, synthetic application – considered to be the most advanced level of the learning process. The knowledge gained was therefore xpected to be used by participants in their future lives. During the activities, the ecological point of view was adopted, yet human-centered environmental awareness was also explained wherever necessary. One of the positive feedbacks of this project was some participants’ contacting of their trainers in order to get additional information on a particular subject after the conclusion of the field applications. One of the negative outputs of this project was the reproach of participants concerning difficulties in remembering their learning due to the intensity of the program. The result of this project is expected to be applied over a larger area with a corresponding training program aimed at contributing towards the protection of nature.