Natural Hazards

, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 1661–1680 | Cite as

The role of knowledge in students’ flood-risk perception

  • Adwin BosschaartEmail author
  • Wilmad Kuiper
  • Joop van der Schee
  • Judith Schoonenboom
Original Paper


Until now, flood-risk perception in the Netherlands has been solely studied as it relates to adults. This exploratory study focused on 15-year-old students who have taken geography courses for 3 years. Since geography education focuses on the formation of knowledge and understanding with respect to flooding in the Netherlands, we were interested in finding out to what extent knowledge and understanding of flooding leads to a rational judgment of flood risk that influences flood-risk perception among 15-year-old students. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 483 15-year-old students from different flood-prone areas in the Netherlands. A reference group of 134 students from higher-elevation areas also participated. In addition to risk perception and risk-related factors, the survey also consisted of a knowledge test about flood hazards and water management with respect to the Netherlands in general and with regard to the surroundings of the students’ schools. In general, students showed low personal flood-risk perceptions and much stronger general flood-risk perceptions. Students’ level of knowledge of floods and flood-related aspects was low. Predictors of personal risk perception included fear, knowledge of flooding in the surroundings of the school and the awareness of environmental cues. Further study is needed of the formation of knowledge in relation to engendering flood-risk awareness among students.


Knowledge of floods Flood-risk perception 15-year-old students Geography education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adwin Bosschaart
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wilmad Kuiper
    • 2
    • 3
  • Joop van der Schee
    • 4
  • Judith Schoonenboom
    • 5
  1. 1.Hogeschool van Amsterdam, School of EducationUniversity of Applied SciencesAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics EducationUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Netherlands Institute of Curriculum Development (SLO)EnschedeThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Faculty of Earth and Life SciencesVU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Faculty of Psychology and PedagogyVU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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