Bronfenbrenner (1977), in his presidential address to the members of the Division of Personality and Social Psychology in 1974, also confuses the concept of ecological validity with generalization and representative design. He begins his critique of current and past psychological research by observing that "the emphasis on rigor has led to experiments that are elegantly designed but often limited in scope. . . . Many of these experiments involve situations that are unfamiliar, artificial, and short-lived and that call for unusual behaviors that are difficult to (italics ours) to other settings" (p. 513). Having expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of representativeness of past and current research design which makes it difficult to generalize laboratory findings to non-laboratory situations, Bronfenbrenner turns to the concept of ecological validity (p. 515) and states that "although this term has, as yet, no accepted definition" (thus joining with Neisser and Jenkins in ignoring three decades of empirical research and a substantial body of psychological theory) he then proceeds to the established definition of ecological validity by saying that "one can infer from discussions of the topic a common underlying conception: An investigation is ecologically valid if it is carried out in a naturalistic setting and involves objects and activities from everyday life." Finding his own new definition not only "too simplistic" and "scientifically unsound," "as it is currently used" (no reference), he also finds it to have "no logical relation to the classical definition of validity--namely, the extent to which a research procedure measures what it is supposed to measure." This statement, even in its idiosyncratic form, is simply false. In the articles written previous to 1974, the concept of ecological validity was consistently used within the classical definition of validity, as it should be. Indeed, in his Table 2, on p. 30, Brunswik (1956) not only defines ecological validity in test measurement terms, but defines the ecological of cues in test measurement terms also, thus preserving the kind of theoretical coherence any science requires if it is to be cumulative.
High on my list is Ecological Identity: Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist by Mitchell Thomashow (1996). It is a must read for anyone interested in changing the ways human beings exist in the world. Thomashow shows how environmental studies can be deeply informed by personal reflection. Through theoretical discussion as well as hands-on participatory learning approaches, he provides concerned citizens, teachers, and students with the tools needed to become reflective environmentalists. The questions he raises are: What do I know about the place where I live? Where do things come from? How do I connect to the Earth? What is my purpose as a human being? These are the questions that he identifies as being at the heart of environmental education. Reflecting on these questions contribute to developing a profound sense of self as being in relationship with natural and social ecosystems, a necessary grounding for the difficult work of environmental advocacy, he believes. Each chapter in the book includes learning activities, e.g. the Sense of Place Map, a Community Network Map, and the Political Genogram, most of which can be carried out on an individual basis.
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