Enhancing Educational and Environmental Awareness Outcomes Through Photovoice

WashU affiliated authors: Uzoma C. Okere, Christine C. Ekenga (Brown School)

Abstract: In the United States, there are substantial barriers to youth nature access and environmental education (EE). These barriers may lead to racial, geographic, and socioeconomic disparities in both nature contact and environmental awareness. This study investigated the impacts of a Photovoice EE intervention on the environmental perceptions, STEM-capacity, and environmental awareness of 335 low-income, urban youth (ages 9–15). Youth were assigned to one of two intervention groups, a Photovoice EE intervention group or an EE intervention group without a Photovoice activity, or a control group. The Photovoice activity revealed that participants perceived the environment in three major subthemes: social, natural, and built. Photovoice participants expressed both positive and negative sentiments toward their environment. After the EE intervention, Photovoice participants experienced greater improvements in STEM-capacity scores than those who participated in the EE intervention without the Photovoice activity (1⁄4 .04). Further, EE participants experienced improved STEM-capacity and environmental awareness scores (< .001), while a control group of youth who did not participate in the EE intervention did not experience any significant improvements in STEM-capacity or environmental awareness. Study results suggest that the Photovoice activities may be associated with improved learning outcomes. Larger intervention studies are necessary to confirm the benefits of Photovoice in Environmental Education.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/16094069211016719