(2022) Enhancing Environmental Education Through Nature-Based Solutions. p. 53-60 Abstract
This chapter is an integration of the author’s previous publications. It rearranges previous findings and ideas to reconstruct the essence of environmental education with the meaning of Nature. This manuscript distinct between the nature of learning, the natural Earth, and the outdoors as a powerful teaching resource and integrates them. However, these are not two separated views; instead, they reflect the same phenomenon (education) from different angles. These two perspectives were already connected to serve the basis for the Earth systems education approach. The main message of this manuscript is that environmental education should adopt the earth systems education approach.
(2021) Geosciences (Basel). 11, 12, 485. Abstract
The global society of today struggles with grand challenges, such as climate change, the degradation of ecosystems, and the loss of bio- and geodiversity, as identified in several documents. The search for solutions to these and other problems on the way to sustainable development necessarily involves a better understanding of the Earth system and its dynamics. The Earth system is composed of five highly dependent and interrelated subsystems that exchange matter and energy. This notion is at the base of what in the literature is named Earth System Science (ESS). Humanity has been profoundly altering the dynamics of this system, leading to the proposal of a new geological epoch—the Anthropocene. Developing a holistic understanding of the complex and tangled relationships between subsystems and the role of human impacts is the target of study of Earth System Education (ESE). With the assumptions of ESS, ESE is emerging as a new approach in science education. Based on a deep knowledge of the planet and the development of specific competencies, such as system thinking, it is possible to perform more actively and consciously in the relationships that citizens develop with the Earth system, enabling the existence of a more viable future for humanity.
And if the Spring that Provides the Farm with Water Should Run Dry?—A Geoethical Case Applied in Higher Education(2021) Advances in Geoethics and Groundwater Management : Theory and Practice for a Sustainable Development. p. 355-358 Abstract
Geoethics is a scientific discipline in development whose primary concern is to instill a better relationship between citizens and the planet they inhabit. With a multiplicity of ethical, social, and cultural values, the significant input geoethics can have on decision-making worldwide is recognized. Knowing how the planet Earth works is the basis for all geoscientific knowledge and essential for the resolution of the great challenges that humankind faces every day. The Geoethics Outcomes and Awareness Learning (GOAL) Project is the first to focus on taking geoethics to higher education curricula, to spread a geoethical perspective across our society. One of the educational resources, developed by the GOAL team of experts, was implemented on a higher education course. The results showed that students (n = 10) are aware of the strict relation between human actions and Earth system dynamics. Students also expressed the concern to educate citizens on the global problems faced, as for daily decisions. They take a preventive position when it concerns human action impacting Earth’s balance. This study is important to develop the students’ geoethical background, as well as to look for ways to improve it, hopefully contributing to a better future on Earth.
(2021) Sustainability (Switzerland). 13, 3, 1316. Abstract
Environmental insight has emerged as a new scientific concept which incorporates the understanding that the Earth is made up of interworking subsystems and the acceptance that humans must act in harmony with the Earth’s dynamic balanced cycle. This Earth system competency represents the highest level of knowing and understanding in the geosciences community. Humans have an important role as participative beings in the Earth’s subsystems, and they must therefore acknowledge that life on Earth depends on a geoethically responsible management of the Earth system. Yet, the world is far from achieving sustainable development, making the role of the Earth science education in promoting education for sustainability even more relevant. The Earth system approach to education is designed to be an effective learning tool for the development of the innovative concept of environmental insight. Through a holistic view of planet Earth, students realize that humans have the ability to enjoy a sustainable life on our planet while minimising detrimental environmental impacts. There is growing evidence that citizens value science and need to be informed about Earth system problems such as climate change, resource efficiency, pandemics, sustainable use of water resources, and how to protect bio-geodiversity. By moving away from both traditional practices and traditional perceptions, environmental insight and geoethics will lead towards an education for sustainability that provides the citizens of Earth with the tools they need to address the full complexity of its urgent environmental concerns.
(2019) Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Science Education Research. 1, 1, 3. Abstract
This article addresses the question of what the future directions and emphases of the research in the earth science education field ought to be. During the past 30 years, Earth science education research has established a solid theoretical foundation, as well as practical strategies and techniques, for a meaningful teaching of earth science from K-12. However, the quality of this research, and the growing need for knowledge in Earth science, have done little to improve the low profile of ESE in schools worldwide. The article posits that narrowing this disturbing gap between the educational potential of Earth science and its low profile in schools requires a holistic agenda. Such an agenda will encompass the deepening of existing research of the Earth systems approach in areas like the development of environmental insight better understanding the learning process as an embedded human instinct, which will hopefully contribute to changing the current essentialism-based teaching culture. However, it will also include new avenues of research focused on changing the attitudes of geoscientists towards their role in society and the adoption of geoethical values.
(2018) Environmental Education Research. 24, 3, p. 307-325 Abstract
This study focuses on understanding the factors that encourage adults’ environmental behavior. This mixed approach methodology study used 10 Likert type questionnaires to collect data about nine cognitive and affective components that might influence environmental behavior. The qualitative data was collected through open questions and interviews. The main sample included 656 participants from amongst Israel’s working population. The questionnaires were found both reliable and valid. Most of the explored cognitive and affective aspects appeared to act as predictors of environmental behavior. The study indicates that environmental behavior is driven by ‘egoistic’ concerns rather than by altruistic views and motivations.
Teacher training workshops in India - A report(2017) Episodes. 40, 1, p. 90-93 Abstract
The International Geoscience Education Organisation organised three Teacher Training Workshops in Goa, Mangaluuru and Bengaluuru during July 2-5, July 7-10 and July 12-15, 2015 jointly with the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, St. Aloysius College (Autonomous) and the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, which were attended by 17, 48 and 63 high school teachers respectively. These were organised as a pilot project to test the impact of such an approach in an Indian setting.
(2016) PLoS ONE. 11, 1, e0145978. Abstract
Several projects aimed at identifying priority issues for conservation with high relevance to policy have recently been completed in several countries. Two major types of projects have been undertaken, aimed at identifying (i) policy-relevant questions most imperative to conservation and (ii) horizon scanning topics, defined as emerging issues that are expected to have substantial implications for biodiversity conservation and policy in the future. Here, we provide the first overview of the outcomes of biodiversity and conservation-oriented projects recently completed around the world using this framework. We also include the results of the first questions and horizon scanning project completed for a Mediterranean country. Overall, the outcomes of the different projects undertaken (at the global scale, in the UK, US, Canada, Switzerland and in Israel) were strongly correlated in terms of the proportion of questions and/or horizon scanning topics selected when comparing different topic areas. However, some major differences were found across regions. There was large variation among regions in the percentage of proactive (i.e. action and response oriented) versus descriptive (non-response oriented) priority questions and in the emphasis given to sociopolitical issues. Substantial differences were also found when comparing outcomes of priority questions versus horizon scanning projects undertaken for the same region. For example, issues related to climate change, human demography and marine ecosystems received higher priority as horizon scanning topics, while ecosystem services were more emphasized as current priority questions. We suggest that future initiatives aimed at identifying priority conservation questions and horizon scanning topics should allow simultaneous identification of both current and future priority issues, as presented here for the first time. We propose that further emphasis on social-political issues should be explicitly integrated into future[All authors]
Understanding the Earth Systems: Expressions of Dynamic and Cyclic Thinking Among University Students(2015) Journal of Science Education and Technology. 24, p. 761-775 Abstract
In this two-part study, we examine undergraduate university students' expression of two important system thinking characteristics-dynamic thinking and cyclic thinking-focusing particularly on students of geology. The study was conducted using an Earth systems questionnaire designed to elicit and reflect either dynamic or cyclic thinking. The study's first part was quantitative. Its population consisted of a research group (223 students majoring in geology or physical geography) and a control group (312 students with no background in geology). The students were asked to rate their agreement with each statement on a Likert scale. Overall, the students in the research group expressed higher levels of dynamic thinking than those in the control group. The geology students showed relatively strong dynamic thinking toward the geosphere and hydrosphere, but not the biosphere. In cyclic thinking, their levels were significantly higher for all Earth systems, suggesting a connection between learning about different cycles in Earth systems, developing cyclic thinking and applying it to other Earth cycles. The second part was qualitative and administered only to the students who majored in geology. They were asked to freely explain their answers to the questionnaire's statements. Our aim was to identify recurring patterns in how these students express their dynamic and cyclic thinking. Their explanations were given to four experts in the field of Earth science, who then presented, in a semi-structured interview, the recurring characteristics of dynamic thinking that they found in the students' explanations.
(2015) Journal of Environmental Education. 46, 3, p. 183-201 Abstract
The present study was based on the premise that environmental knowledge can drive environmental behavior only if it arouses environmental emotions. Using a structural equations modeling approach, we tested the direct, as well as the indirect (mediated) effects of knowledge on behavior and assessed the mediating role of environmental emotions. We found that knowledge is an important but distal variable, whose significant effect is fully mediated by emotions. The high explanatory power and good fit indices of the model supported and validated the important role of emotions in the learning process.
(2013) International Journal of Science Education. 35, 18, p. 3161-3193 Abstract
This study is an attempt to gain new insight, on behalf of science teachers, into the integration of metacognition (MC) into science education. Participants were 44 elementary school science teachers attending an in-service teacher-training (INST) program. Data collection was carried out by several data sources: recordings of all verbal discussions that took place during the program, teachers' written reflections, and semi-structured individual interviews. Our study provides a qualitative analysis of the 44 teachers' voices as a group, as well as a detailed case-study narrative analysis of three teachers' stories The findings show that the teachers' intuitive (pre-instructional) thinking was incomplete and unsatisfactory and their voices were skeptical and against the integration of MC. After teachers had mastered the notion of MC in the INST program, the following outcomes have been identified: (a) teachers expressed amazement at how such an important and relevant issue had been almost invisible to them; (b) teachers identified the affective character of metacognitive experiences as the most significant facet of MC, which acts as a mediator between teaching and learning; (c) the complete lack of learning materials addressing MC and the absence of supportive in-classroom guidance were identified as the major obstacles for its implementation; (d) teachers expressed a willingness to continue their professional development toward expanding their abilities to integrate MC as an inseparable component of the science curriculum. The implications of the findings for professional development courses in the field of MC are discussed.
Four Case Studies, Six Years Later: Developing System Thinking Skills in Junior High School and Sustaining Them over Time(2010) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 47, 10, p. 1253-1280 Abstract
This study examines the process by which system thinking perceptions develop within the context of a water cycle curriculum. Four junior high school students undergoing an especially designed inquiry-based intervention were closely observed before, during, immediately after, and 6 years after completing a year long systems-based learning program. The employed research tools included observations, semi-structured interviews, and a number of "concept viewing" tools (drawings, concept maps, and repertory grids). Out of the data, four distinct "stories," each presenting a different way of constructing hydro system mental models, are described. The paper's main conclusion is that students develop their systems mental models and remember the learned material based on learning patterns that tend to remain unchanged over time. Consequently, in order to facilitate efficient and lasting construction of students' system models, learning experiences should harness these, and especially the meta-cognitive learning pattern, which holds special significance for constructing systems. (C) 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 47: 1253-1280, 2010
(2010) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 47, 5, p. 540-563 Abstract
This study deals with the development of system thinking skills at the elementary school level. It addresses the question of whether elementary school students can deal with complex systems. The sample included 40 4th grade students from one school in a small town in Israel. The students studied an inquiry-based earth systems curriculum that focuses on the hydro-cycle. The program involved lab simulations and experiments, direct interaction with components and processes of the water cycle in the outdoor learning environment and knowledge integration activities. Despite the students' minimal initial system thinking abilities, most of them made significant progress with their ability to analyze the hydrological earth system to its components and processes. As a result, they recognized interconnections between components of a system. Some of the students reached higher system thinking abilities, such as identifying interrelationships among several earth systems and identifying hidden parts of the hydrological system. The direct contact with real phenomena and processes in small scale scenarios enabled these students to create a concrete local water cycle, which could later be expanded into large scale abstract global cycles. The incorporation of outdoor inquiry-based learning with lab inquiry-based activities and knowledge integration assignments contributed to the 4th grade students' capacity to develop basic system thinking abilities at their young age. This suggests that although system thinking is regarded as a high order thinking skill, it can be developed to a certain extent in elementary school. With a proper long-term curriculum, these abilities can serve as the basis for the development of higher stages of system thinking at the junior high/middle school level. (C) 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 47: 540-563, 2010
Philosophical Approaches of Religious Jewish Science Teachers Toward the Teaching of 'Controversial' Topics in Science(2010) International Journal of Science Education. 32, 11, p. 1521-1548 Abstract
This research examines the problems that religious Jewish science teachers in Israeli high schools have in coping with science subjects (such as geological time) which conflict with their religious beliefs. We do this by characterizing the philosophical approaches within Judaism that such teachers have adopted for dealing with such controversy. Thus, we surveyed 56 religious teachers using a Likert-type questionnaire developed for this research, as well as interviewed 11 teachers to more deeply probe their approaches. In addition, we surveyed 15 religious scientists, so that we could both contrast their views with our teacher samples as well as to better understand their coping strategies when confronted by scientific topics that challenge their beliefs. Results indicated that no single philosophical approach earned overwhelming support from the teachers or scientists. Instead, most of the subjects relate separately to each source of possible conflict in accordance with the philosophical approach that appears to be the most fruitful for resolving such conflicts. Moreover, both the scientists and the teachers felt less conflicted toward the specific subject of geological time, in comparison to issues connected to creation of the earth and (especially) evolution. The teachers did differ from the scientists in their preference toward philosophical approaches which help them better integrate the domains of science and religion. Based on our findings, we are able to suggest a set of strategies to help teachers overcome their difficulties in teaching 'controversial' science topics to a religiously oriented student population.
Building an understanding of geological time: A cognitive synthesis of the "macro" and "micro" scales of time(2006) Earth And Mind: How Geologists Think And Learn About The Earth. p. 77-93 (trueGeological Society of America Special Papers). Abstract
Few discoveries in geology are more important than geological time. However, for most people, it is impossible to grasp because of its massive scale. In this chapter, we offer a solution to this problem based on our research in cognition and education. Our strategy involves the decoupling of geological time between the macroscale of deep time, which includes the major features of Earth history, and the study of which we call event-based studies, and the microscale of relative time, represented by strata, the study of which we term logic-based studies. Our event-based study focuses on the problem of learning about macroevolution within the massive time scale of the fossil record. We approached this problem by creating a four-stage learning model in which the students manipulated a series of increasingly complex visual representations of evolution in time. Postprogram results indicate that students had a better understanding of macroevolution as seen in the fossil record; moreover, they appreciated that different events in absolute time required different scales of time to occur. Our logic-based studies used Montangero's diachronic thinking model as a basis for describing how students reconstruct geological systems in time. Using this model, we designed three specialized instruments to test a sample of middle and high school students. Our findings indicated that there were significant differences between students in grade 9-12 and grade 7-8 in their ability to reconstruct geological systems. Moreover, grade 11-12 geology majors in Israel had a significant advantage over their nongeological counterparts in such reconstruction tasks.
(2005) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 42, 5, p. 518-560 Abstract
The current study deals with the development of system thinking skills at the junior high school level. The sample population included about 50 eighth-grade students from two different classes of an urban Israeli junior high school who studied an earth systems-based curriculum that focused on the hydro cycle. The study addressed the following research questions: (a) Could the students deal with complex systems?; (b) What has influenced the students' ability to deal with system perception?; and (c) What are the relationship among the cognitive components of system thinking? The research combined qualitative and quantitative methods and involved various research tools, which were implemented in order to collect the data concerning the students' knowledge and understanding before, during, and following the learning process. The findings indicated that the development of system thinking in the context of the earth systems consists of several sequential stages arranged in a hierarchical structure. The cognitive skills that are developed in each stage serve as the basis for the development of the next higher-order thinking skills. The research showed that in spite of the minimal initial system thinking abilities of the students most of them made some meaningful progress in their system thinking skills, and a third of them reached the highest level of system thinking in the context of the hydro cycle. Two main factors were found to be the source of the differential progress of the students: (a) the students' individual cognitive abilities, and (b) their level of involvement in the knowledge integration activities during their inquiry-based learning both indoors and outdoors. (c) 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
(2003) Science Education. 87, 5, p. 708-731 Abstract
There have been few discoveries in geology more important than "deep time"-the understanding that the universe has existed for countless millennia, such that man's existence is confined to the last milliseconds of the metaphorical geological clock. The influence of deep time is felt in a variety of sciences including geology, cosmology, and evolutionary biology. Thus, any student that wants to master these subjects must have a good understanding of geological time. Despite its critical importance, there has been very little attention given to geological time by science education researchers. Of the work that has been done, much of it ignores the cognitive basis for students' understanding of geological time. This work addresses this gap by presenting a validation study for a new instrument - the GeoTAT (Geological Time Aptitude Test). Consisting of a series of open puzzles, the GeoTAT tested the subjects' ability to reconstruct and represent the transformation in time of a series of geological structures. Montagnero (1992, 1996) terms this ability "diachronic thinking." This instrument was distributed to a population of 285 junior and senior high school students with no background in geology, as well as 58 high school students majoring in geology. A comparison of the high school (grades 11-12) geology and non-geology majors indicated that the former group held a significant advantage over the latter in solving problems involving diachronic thinking. This relationship was especially strengthened by the second year of geological study (grade 12), with the key factor in this improvement being exposure to fieldwork. Fieldwork both improved the subjects' ability in understanding the 3-D factors influencing temporal organization, as well as providing them with experience in learning about the types of evidence that are critical in reconstructing a transformational sequence. (C) 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Effect of knowledge integration activities on students' perception of the earth's crust as a cyclic system(2003) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 40, 6, p. 545-565 Abstract
Systems thinking is regarded as a high-order thinking skill required in scientific, technological, and everyday domains. However, little is known about systems thinking in the context of science education. In the current research, students' understanding of the rock cycle system after a learning program was characterized, and the effect of a concluding knowledge integration activity on their systems thinking was studied. Answers to an open-ended test were interpreted using a systems thinking continuum, ranging from a completely static view of the system to an understanding of the system's cyclic nature. A meaningful improvement in students' views of the rock cycle toward the higher side of the systems thinking continuum was found after the knowledge integration activity. Students became more aware of the dynamic and cyclic nature of the rock cycle, and their ability to construct sequences of processes representing material transformation in relatively large chunks significantly improved. Success of the knowledge integration activity stresses the importance of postknowledge acquisition activities, which engage students in a dual process of differentiation of their knowledge and reintegration in a systems context. We suggest including such activities in curricula involving systems-based contents, particularly in earth science, in which systems thinking can bring about environmental literacy.
(2003) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 40, 4, p. 415-442 Abstract
A critical element of the earth sciences is reconstructing geological structures and systems that have developed over time. A survey of the science education literature shows that there has been little attention given to this concept. In this study, we present a model, based on Montagnero's (1996) model of diachronic thinking,, which describes how students reconstruct geological transformations over time. For geology, three schemes of diachronic thinking are relevant: 1. Transformation, which is a principle of change; in geology it is understood through actualistic thinking (the idea that present proceeses can be used to model the past). 2. Temporal organization, which defines the sequential order of a transformation; in geology it is based on the three-dimensional relationship among strata. 3. Interstage linkage, which is the connections between successive stages of a transformation; in geology it is based on both actualism and causal reasoning. Three specialized instruments were designed to determine the factors which influence reconstructive thinking: (a) the GeoTAT which tests diachronic thinking skills, (b) the TST which tests the relationship between spatial thinking and temporal thinking, and (c) the SFT which tests the influence of dimensional factors on temporal awareness. Based on the model constructed in this study we define the critical factors influencing reconstructive thinking: (a) the transformation scheme which influences the other diachronic schemes, (b) knowledge of geological processes, and (c) extracognitive factors. Among the students tested, there was a significant difference between Grade 9-12 students and Grade 7-8 students in their ability. to reconstruct geological phenomena using diachronic thinking. This suggests that somewhere between Grades 7 and 8 it is possible to start teaching some of the logical principles used in geology to reconstruct geological structures. (C) 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
The educational potential of multimedia authoring as a part of the earth science curriculum - A case study(2000) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 37, 10, p. 1121-1153 Abstract
The purpose of this study was to assess the potential of multimedia authoring, as a learning tool, using the software ASTOUND. The subjects in this study were 32 students in two Grade 12 classes. The context of the study was a multi-disciplinary environmental unit about earthquakes. Students were provided with basic background about earthquakes via laboratory experiments and field trips. At a later stage, the students did in-depth independent projects on selected topics related to earthquakes. Once completed, the students presented their projects using the multimedia software ASTOUND. The research consisted of the following stages: a pre-development phase; curriculum design phase; implementation and evaluation. The research tools included: questionnaires, interviews, observations, concept mapping, and an analysis of the multimedia presentations. The findings showed that an integration of laboratory exercises, field trips, and an independent study project, could lead to meaningful learning. However, although most of the students enjoyed using the multimedia program, there was no evidence to support the assumption that it contributed to knowledge acquisition. In fact, much of the time invested in multimedia authoring was devoted to producing decorative effects, reducing the time available for meaningful learning. (C) 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Development and validation of an instrument for assessing the learning environment of outdoor science activities(1997) Science Education. 81, 2, p. 161-171 Abstract
The SOLEI (Science Outdoor Learning Environment Inventory) was developed and content-validated in high schools in Israel. The instrument consists of seven scales (55 items). Five of the scales are based on the Science Laboratory Learning Environment Instrument (SLEI) developed in Australia. The other two scales are unique to the learning environment existing in outdoor activities. The instrument was found to be a sensitive measure that differentiates between different types of field trips conducted in the context of different subjects (biology, chemistry, and earth science). It is suggested that the instrument could be an important addition to the research tools available for studies conducted in informal settings in science education. (C) 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
(1996) International Journal of Science Education. 18, 5, p. 577-599 Abstract
The article deals with perceptual and attitudinal changes of British post-graduate pre-service secondary science teachers during and following their education and training year al the University of Keele, UK. Specifically, the following aspects were addressed: views about education through science; views about the aims and goals of science education, classroom management, teaching schemes and instructional strategies; their self-concepts as science teachers; their self-confidence concerning a variety of teaching assignments; and their expectations of the PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate of Education) programme. The influence of gender, age, and science subject background, on their initial views and subsequent changes of perceptions and attitudes, were also investigated. The research was conducted with 39 PGCE students and their five academic tutors. It combined both qualitative (open questionnaire and interviews) and quantitative ('closed' questionnaire) methods. The findings emphasized three characteristics of the pre-service teachers: (a) the progressive ideas which they already possessed and their considerable motivation on entering the teacher education programme; (b) their idiosyncratic nature. Throughout the teaching practice the students passed through a dynamic process of transformation. A meaningful change of perceptions and attitudes occurred for almost all of them in respect to ideas about science education in schools; (c) their narrowly practical viewpoints and learning abilities. The influence of the university tutors was effective only when their ideas provided useful and practical teaching tools. The students could only dimly understand the relevance of many of the theoretical and philosophical ideas presented by their tutors. It is suggested that these findings might serve as a good beginning for developing more effective pre-service education and training programmes.
(1996) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 33, 4, p. 369-391 Abstract
The specific spatial abilities required for the study of basic structural geology were characterized by quantitative and qualitative data analysis. A geologic spatial ability test (GeoSAT) was developed and administered to 115 comprehensive high-school students. Six of these students were interviewed. An analysis of students' incorrect answers revealed two types of answers: (a) nonpenetrative answers, which were based on external exposures of the structure; and (b) penetrative answers, which indicated attempts at representing internal properties of the structure. Students who tended to give penetrative incorrect answers performed significantly higher than students who tended to give nonpenetrative incorrect answers. The reasoning of students for these types of answers, as determined by interviews, supported the initial assumption that these answers were given by students with different levels of ability mentally to penetrate the image of a structure, which was named visual penetration ability (VPA). The interview findings indicated that the VPA is one of two complementary factors needed to solve the problems of GeoSAT; the other factor is the ability to perceive the spatial configuration of the structure. It is concluded that the teaching and learning process should provide students with assistance in both of these areas.
(1994) Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 31, 10, p. 1097-1119 Abstract
This study deals with the educational effectiveness of field trips. The main purpose was to obtain insight concerning factors that might influence the ability of students to learn during a scientific held trip in a natural environment. The research was conducted in the context of a 1-day geologic field trip by 296 students in Grades 9 through 11 in high schools in Israel. The study combined qualitative and quantitative research methods. Data were collected from three different sources (student, teacher, and outside observer) in three stages (before, after, and during the field trip). Using observations and questionnaires we investigated: a) the nature of student learning during the field trip, b) student attitudes toward the field trip, and c) changes in student knowledge and attitudes after the field trip. Our findings suggest that the educational effectiveness of a field trip is controlled by two major factors: the field trip quality and the ''Novelty space'' (or Familiarity Index). The educational quality of a field trip is determined by its structure, learning materials, and teaching method, and the ability to direct learning to a concrete interaction with the environment. The novelty space consists of three prefield variables: cognitive, psychological, and geographic. The learning performance of students whose ''Novelty Space'' was reduced before the field trip was significantly higher than that of students whose ''Novelty Space'' had not been so reduced. Thus, the former group gained significantly higher achievement and attitude levels. It is suggested that a field trip should occur early in the concrete part of the curriculum, and should be preceded by a relatively short preparatory unit that focuses on increasing familiarity with the learning setting of the field trip, thereby limiting the ''Novelty Space'' factors.