Evaluation and development of the school cooperation of the association Naturpark Karwendel

Authors: Hannah Fritz, Anais Gutting, Pia Hohenwarter, Hannah Voglstätter


Nature and environmental protection are ever-present topics and in Austria environmental education is an integral part of the school system. It is necessary to design an education system, which focuses on practical teaching, so that the pupils can integrate nature and environment into their value system through their own actions (Rost, 1999). In addition, students express strong, positive feelings about nature after excursions and understand the importance of nature for humans (Morag & Tal, 2012). If the children's awareness of a certain topic increases and they adapt their behaviour accordingly, the parents are also significantly influenced in their actions and thinking (Hiramatsu et al., 2014). In the context of environmental education, the spillover-effect describes the effects of a change of consciousness of children on their parents.

In 2007 the cooperation between Austrian nature parks and schools was initiated. The so-called nature park schools promote practical projects in the fields of nature conservation and regional development. Together with the Tyrolean association Naturpark Karwendel, which maintains a total of six school cooperations with elementary schools in the region, an evaluation of the cooperation was carried out. Based on interviews with teachers and a survey with parents, the relevance of the school cooperations and possible fields of action were identified.

Naturpark Figure1 ENG

Figure 1: Behavioural change of children measured by their legal guardians.

The analysis of the parent survey shows that almost 67% of the respondents were able to perceive a change in their children's behaviour since attending a nature park school. The behavioural changes were observed in various areas (see figure 1).

Naturpark Figure2 ENG

Figure 2: Parents' behavioural change based on the behavioural change of their children.

The results of the survey, whether the mentioned behavioural changes of the children have led to behavioural changes of their legal guardians, can be seen in figure 2. In slightly more than half of the respondents, the behaviour towards the environment and nature has not changed because of their children.

Naturpark Figure3 ENG

Figure 3: Spillover-effect measured by the willingness of the child to talk about the nature park and the newly learned skills of the parents when supporting projects.

When comparing newly learned things during the assistance in projects and the willingness of the children to communicate about the Naturpark Karwendel, it was recognized that the children of the legal guardians, who learned a lot of new things, constantly talk about the nature park. More than half of the respondents whose children tell about the nature park from time to time have learned a lot of new things.

In summary, it can be seen that practical environmental education can lead to behavioural changes of the children. However, when analysing the results of the parent survey, it should be noted that many children are already taught environmental knowledge and awareness at home and that changes in their behaviour are not entirely due to lessons at school.  It also shows that the higher the child's awareness of a particular issue, the greater the spillover-effect on their parents (Hiramatsu et al., 2014).

The evaluation of the interviews and the parents' survey made it possible to identify essential fields of action for optimizing the cooperation of the Naturpark Karwendel. These consist of the design of teaching material, the availability of information, communication with experts and the flow of information to the parents.

The team behind the project

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The four students of the Management Center Innsbruck Hannah Fritz, Anais Gutting, Hannah Voglstätter and Pia Hohenwarter during a trip to Thaur. While cooperating with Anton Heufelder from the association Naturpark Karwendel the students had the opportunity to visit the castle ruins and the Owl Museum in Thaur.



Hiramatsu, A., Kurisu, K., Nakamura, H., Teraki, S., & Hanaki, K. (2014). Spillover Effect on Families Derived from Environmental Education for Children. Low Carbon Economy, 05(02), 40–50. https://doi.org/10.4236/lce.2014.52005

Morag, O. & Tal, T. (2012). Assessing Learning in the Outdoors with the Field Trip in Natural Environments (FiNE)

Rost, J. (1999). Was motiviert Schüler zum Umwelthandeln. Unterrichtswissenschaft (3), 213–231.

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