A Methodological Evaluation of an Environmental Education Survey: Is There a Technological Advantage


  • Ryan L. Sharp Kansas State University
  • Michael J. Bradley Eastern Kentucky University
  • James N. Maples Eastern Kentucky University




environmental education, survey methods, nature


Environmental education represents a conceivable way to counter the effects of youth’s lack of exposure to the natural environment. However, the effectiveness of these programs is often not evaluated, and when they are, the methods for doing so are not consistent. Without proper and reliable methods of data collection, the results may be inaccurate and lead to false claims. Middle school children were given surveys to measure interest in nature, importance of nature, and environmental stewardship. The students were split into two groups, one that took the survey through a conventional pencil-and-paper method and one that took the survey on a tablet computer (e.g., iPad). The results revealed a difference in how students responded based on how they took the survey. Children may be more willing to provide more truthful responses through digital means and may associate paper surveys with exams or other less desirable activities.

Subscribe to JOREL

Author Biographies

Ryan L. Sharp, Kansas State University

Assistant Professor

Department of Horticultre and Natural Resources

Michael J. Bradley, Eastern Kentucky University

Associate Professor

Recreation and Park Administration Department

James N. Maples, Eastern Kentucky University

Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work


DCohen, J., Cohen, P., West, S. G. & Aiken, L. S. (2003). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles: Implications for investments in faculty and technology. In D. Oblinger & J. Oblinger (Eds.), Educating the Net Generation (pp. 15.1-15.22). Boulder, CO.

Dillman, D. A., & Smyth, J. D. (2007). Design effects in the transition to webbased surveys. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 32(5), 90-96.

Hoaglin, D.C. & Iglewicz, B. (1987). Fine-Tuning some resistant rules for outlier labelling. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 82(400), 1147-1149.

Hoaglin, D.C., Iglewicz, B. & Tukey, J.W. (1986). Performance of some resistant rules for outlier labeling. Journal of American Statistical Association, 81(396), 991-999.

Hohwu, L., Lyshol, H., Jonsson, S.H., Petzold, M. & Obel, C. (2013). Web-based versus traditional paper questionariies: A mixed-mode survey with a nordic perspective. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(8).

Kellert, S. R. (2005). Building for life: Designing and understanding the human-nature connection. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Larson, L.R., Castleberry, S.B., & Green, G.T. (2010). Effects of an environmental education program on the environmental orientations of children from different gender, age, and ethic groups. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 28(3), 95-113.

Larson, L.R., Green, G.T., & Castleberry, S.B. (2009). Construction and validation of an instrument to measure environmental orientations in a diverse group of children. Environment and Behavior, 43(1).

Ng, W. (2012). Can we teach digital natives digital literacy? Computers & Education, 59, 1065-1078.

Pergams, O. R. W., & Zaradic, P. A. (2006). Is love of nature in the US becoming love of electronic media? 16-year downtrend in national park visits explained by watching movies, playing video games, internet use, and oil prices. Journal of Environmental Management, 80, 387-393.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.

Smith-Sebasto, N. J., & Cavern, L. (2006). Effects of pre- and post-trip activities associated with a residential environmental education experience on students' attitudes toward the environment. Journal of Environmental Education, 37(4), 3- 17.

Vondanovich, S., Shen, K. & Sundaram, D. (2015). Social competence of digital natives: Impact of social networking sites (SNS) use. AMCIS Proceedings, Association for Information Systems, 1-9.

Wilcox, A.B., Gallagher, K.D., Boden-Albala, & B. Bakken, S.R. (2012). Research data collection methods: From paper to tablet computers. Medical Care, 50.






Research Note