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Toby Howell BA PGDip

IEMA Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management: Learner Diaries #3

This is part three of three in a series of blogs documenting a learner's successful journey through the IEMA Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management Course. If you are yet to read parts one or two, we strongly recommend you do so before consuming this blog.

January 2023


Welcome back to my IEMA Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management Learner Diary! This instalment marks the conclusion of this diary and covers the following aspects of the course;

  • Element Seven: Communication and the management of change
  • Exam prep strategies
  • Exam strategies

So, let's get into it. 

Element Seven: Communication and the Management of Change

Element Seven covers an integral facet of environment management; the ability to convey environmental practice effectively and understandably. I know first-hand how tricky it can be. Therefore, I hugely appreciated this element. 

The course outlines fourteen fundamental principles in environmental communication that simplifies its complexity and eases any burden of translating intricate concepts to other peers. I got through the module on communication quite quickly. It was relatively low on text, and I was to convert the principles of effective communication into nice concise bullet points. 

Next on the agenda was corporate reporting - the process of communicating the reasons behind and the results of effective green practices. I found the extensive list of benefits really intriguing, mainly because I had no idea there were so many. The benefits go beyond a financial return on investment (I won't spoil them here!). Then came a more text-heavy analysis of the legal framework surrounding reporting. It outlines that companies must report on the greenhouse gases they are responsible for. It defines all the legal ramifications companies face if they do not report accurately. This course sequence is one of the most important to your organisation. Being able to convey the legal requirements for environmental reporting saves companies millions every year. If a company fails to do this correctly, they are eligible for incredibly high fines and a significant loss of reputation. 

The next module focused on green claims, the claims made by companies that declare a service or product as environmentally friendly in some way or another. In essence (and this is what really intrigued me), green claims should educate the consumer. They should act as a means to inform anyone looking to purchase said product or service, ensuring they can make educated choices. The module hones in on the British Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) guidance on green claims. This fascinated me; therefore, I wrote all the advice out. It wasn't too much text, but there are valuable snippets where you can translate parts into concise bullet points. What I found really interesting was how this guidance is actually aimed at organisations to prevent accidental greenwashing. 

Stepping away from the DEFRA guidance, the course begins outlining a three-step approach to how to make a good environmental claim. This is an invaluable model for organisations for several reasons. Firstly it helps dictate how to prevent any accidental inaccuracies that could result in greenwashing. Secondly, the approach instructs on how a claim will benefit the environment and not just a fluffy-worded statement. Lastly, the model offers advice on proving the claim and giving credible evidence to protect the organisational reputation. 

The last module of the entire course consists of a myriad of topics. These include;

  • Organisational change: The module advises on the three stages of organisational change, those being; Current state, Transition state and Future state. This part of the module does involve a large amount of text. However, not all of it might be required knowledge. I found snippets of information for all three phases and could concisely round up each state. 
  • Training: This section addresses organisational training specifying the objectives and requirements of such activity. This was easy to narrow down into bullet points. 
  • Barriers to creating a positive environmental culture: As the title suggests, this part focuses on the blockers to establishing a positive environmental culture. Interestingly, they are outlined as being; A lack of senior management support, poor communication and resistance to change. Each reason is thoroughly dissected but easy to wrap up into small paragraphs. 
  • Challenging behaviour that may cause environmental harm: the course highlights six intriguing steps to minimise 'undesirable behaviour'. Each are in bullet-point form and was easy to remember after I copied each down several times on a notepad.

That concludes the final element of the IEMA Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management. The element was not too reliant on text; it allowed for a more varied studying approach, which I appreciated, especially at the tail end of the course. 

Exam Preparation

The first thing to remember about the exam, in preparation, is that it is not a normal exam. It is an open-book, multiple-choice exam, meaning you can use the internet and course materials during the exam. When some people learn of this, they often think that less studying is required or that they can search the questions into a search engine and have the answers at their fingertips. This is not the case (more on this in the exam strategy section).

Utilising the mock exam papers available was really useful in readying me for the structure and feel of the questions. I have never been someone who has relished the opportunity to showcase my knowledge through exams. I've often found that the pressure can build inside me and, on the day, get the better of me. But being prepared and having sat the mock papers available several times calmed my nerves and made me anticipate it eagerly.

As expressed above, the exam is open book, otherwise known as an OBE. This means learners can utilise any materials to assist them in completing the exam. I recommend having the course materials open and available to you. However, be prepared to use them sparingly. It can be time-consuming to read a question from the exam and locate the answer in the course materials. Have them present, just in case. 

I also recommend having a second screen (if you can). Before my exam, I had my course materials open on one screen and the exam log-on window open on the other. My thought was that it would save time and hassle to navigate through different tabs. Furthermore, having another tab open for quick Google searches will come in handy. 

Exam Strategy

Because of the nature of the questions, learners cannot simply just type the questions into Google and have correct answers instantly appear. To test this theory, I typed several questions (from my exam) into the Google search bar. Lots of scientific studies, over-worded essays, and convoluted web pages (that had nothing to do with the question itself) appeared. You can waste valuable time going through these pages looking for the answers. I saw nothing to be gained from trudging through these pages, so my advice is not to rely on the internet for your answers. 

Instead, I used the internet for quick clarifications of my knowledge. If I was presented with a question on communication, for example, I would need to take time to find the section in the course that covered communication. From there, I would need to skim-read and hope that I get to the specific point (covered in the question) and then process the information. Then finally, answer the question. I had no idea how long this would take, only that it would take a while. It is important to remember there are twenty questions in a sixty-minute timeframe. In essence, that gives you about two minutes to answer each question. I found that I did not need that entire time, but I used it to my advantage. During the exam, you can label questions to revisit later; I used any spare time to address my doubts concerning my answers to these questions. I used Google to search keywords regarding the questions and found several multiple-choice answers in that research. Through the process of elimination, I was successfully able to ascertain the correct answers to a few questions I found troublesome. 

Whenever you are satisfied with your answers, read through them. Or if you have more time than expected, try to verify your answers through the internet. As I expressed above, you may not find what you are looking for by doing this, but any success is better than no success. 


Astutis' Digital Content Writer and IEMA Foundation Certificate graduate, Toby Howell.

And thus, comes the end to the IEMA Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management Learner Diaries!  It was been really enjoyable sharing my learner journey with you all. I sincerely hope my experience and subsequent documentation of the course has helped assist you in your training journey. I found the course highly rewarding and relished the experience of receiving my physical certificate. 

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