Runninghead: Join The (Eco) Club: Examining The Role Of Extracurriculars For Enhancing Environmental Education
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Ecoclubs are often devalued in their effectiveness at promoting Environmental Education because of their extracurricular nature. In theory, extracurricular programs offer a flexible learning opportunity that is founded in constructive learning where students can actively construct meaning while relating what they learn to real world issues and concepts (Olusegun 2015; Loughland, Reid, & Petocz 2010). The purpose of this study is to explore the roles of Ecoclubs in secondary schools as a means of contributing to the improvement of Environmental Education within Ontario. This qualitative study examines the effectiveness of Ecoclubs in developing environmental behaviour and action in students. A secondary data analysis of two case studies based within India and Australia was used to explore Ecoclubs within secondary schools. The Ecoclubs within these countries are framed within different contexts of Environmental Education, but nonetheless provide informative perspectives on Environmental Education in extracurriculars as a whole. The findings of my study suggested that Ecoclubs effectively promote learners’ environmental behaviour and actions through the development of the ecological self . The term ‘ecological self’ refers to connectedness with nature (Naess, 2005; Wilson, 1996) and existing with nature (Splitters, 2015). The findings of my study also highlighted the theme of interconnectedness through the cyclical progression and development of the ecological self and what I term ‘new’ environmental awareness. Integrating Environmental Education in extracurriculars suggests a need for more funding, improved management and execution of the program and more opportunities for the professional development of teachers in the field of Environmental Education.