Interest in Insects: The Role of Entomology in Environmental Education

Insects. 2018 Feb 23;9(1):26. doi: 10.3390/insects9010026.


University-based outreach programs have a long history of offering environmental education programs to local schools, but often these lessons are not evaluated for their impact on teachers and students. The impact of these outreach efforts can be influenced by many things, but the instructional delivery method can affect how students are exposed to new topics or how confident teachers feel about incorporating new concepts into the classroom. A study was conducted with a series of university entomology outreach programs using insects as a vehicle for teaching environmental education. These programs were used to assess differences between three of the most common university-based outreach delivery methods (Scientist in the Classroom, Teacher Training Workshops, and Online Curriculum) for their effect on student interest and teacher self-efficacy. Surveys administered to 20 fifth grade classrooms found that the delivery method might not be as important as simply getting insects into activities. This study found that the lessons had a significant impact on student interest in environmental and entomological topics, regardless of treatment. All students found the lessons to be more interesting, valuable, and important over the course of the year. Treatment also did not influence teacher self-efficacy, as it remained high for all teachers.

Keywords: arthropod education; entomology education; environmental education; invertebrate education; student interest; teacher self-efficacy.