Title: Understanding environmental pollution concepts: a case study using school students in Argentina and Puerto Rico

Authors: Nora Valeiras, Luis A. Godoy

Addresses: Department of Science and Technology Education, FCEFyN, National University of Cordoba, Ave. Velez Sarsfield 299, Cordoba, Argentina. ' Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, 00681 9041 Puerto, Rico

Abstract: This paper explores concepts about air, water and soil pollution that students of grades 7–9 have in Argentina and Puerto Rico. A structured questionnaire was used in the investigation. A quantitative analysis was carried out to characterise the occurrence and frequency of conceptual errors, and to analyse their decrease with an increase in the educational level of the students. The results showed how students perceived abstract and local problems regarding pollution, and the differences owing to their cultural environments. Finally, the results seemed to support the hypothesis about the importance of cognitive stages and their relation with stages of development and evolution with age.

Keywords: understanding concepts; Argentina; environmental concepts; environmental education; misconceptions; environmental pollution; Puerto Rico; air pollution; water pollution; soil pollution; school students; culture; cognitive stages; secondary education.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEP.2007.016501

International Journal of Environment and Pollution, 2007 Vol.31 No.3/4, pp.342 - 358

Published online: 03 Jan 2008 *

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