Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Tracey Dalton

Abstract

Newport, Rhode Island is a diverse community. Although there is a population of very wealthy households in Newport, roughly 11% of the population lives below the poverty line. Newport is one of the more demographically diverse communities in Rhode Island, with 49.7% of its populous identifying as white, 27.1% identifying as black, and 18.2% identifying as Hispanic. The state of Rhode Island consists of 81% white, 6.5% African American and 5.8% other races and ethnicities. In this thesis I discuss the effects of a place-based experiential environmental education program, the Pell Elementary School Sail Newport Program, on this diverse demographic of students enrolled in the fourth grade at this school in Newport, Rhode Island. This population is of interest because of historic inequities in coastal access that remain today. To analyze the effects of this program on student knowledge, attitudes and behaviors, the same in-person survey was given to fourth grade participants after completing the program, as well as to third grade non-participants who would complete the program the following year. I performed informal participant observation to better analyze program impacts. Results of this study showed that students who participated in the program left with a positive attitude toward the sport of sailing and were more likely to say they planned to pursue opportunities to sail or boat in the future. Observation reinforced these results, as a great deal of enthusiasm and sailing knowledge was observed in members of the program’s 2018 Spring session. Results also indicated no relationship between participation in the program and changes in recreational or pro-environmental behavior. Implications for these findings warrant the development of similar programs throughout the United States, with the added recommendation of encouraging family-oriented education regarding access (i.e., a “family day” for Sail Newport’s Pell Students) and additional experiential knowledge regarding coastal access. Programs may also consider implementing this curriculum at a later state in childhood development (i.e., 7th or 8th grade, students aged 12 to 14) when more individual agency is afforded to students, and decisions regarding recreation are left to students.

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