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Journal Articles; Reports - Research
One critical tool for creating an environmentally literate citizenry is to reach students other than those in environmental-related majors in the form of the university-level large introductory environmental studies course. In this study, we relate student academic background to initial and final environmental awareness results. We found that students from a wide range of backgrounds begin with similar motivation for taking the class and uniformly low environmental knowledge. Our results indicate that a low-credit, engaging introductory environmental studies class can strongly impact student awareness independent of diverse learner academic backgrounds. For example, results suggest that students taking the course primarily to meet science breadth requirements and students with a strong previous science background had equivalent initial awareness and course outcomes. The lack of a correlation with background suggests that students are not learning about environmental studies in other classes and reinforces the importance of investing in nonmajors-focused environmental education. Additionally, our findings support the importance of affective learning gains, such as attitude changes, which we term "learning to care".