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How do learners in developed and developing countries relate to environmental issues?

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Title: How do learners in developed and developing countries relate to environmental issues?


1
How do learners in developed and developing
countries relate to environmental issues?
  • Ricardo Trumper, Faculty of Science and Science
    Education, Haifa University, Israel

2
Introduction
  • Many environmental problems (and their solutions)
    are science-related.
  • Science education has a key role in preparing
    young people to cope and deal responsibly with
    the emerging environmental challenges.

3
  • Students' emerging attitudes to science
    including natural and environmental science
    generate feelings that may influence lifelong
    attitudes and behaviors.

Students' attitudes toward environmental issues
have been evaluated by a number of authors
- There is not a conclusive relation between
attitudes and gender .
4
- Young children have more positive attitudes
toward environmental issues than older students.
- Environmental concern influences behavior
indirectly.
- Objective knowledge has been found to have
significant relationships with environmental
behavior.
5
In this study we compared students' attitudes and
interests towards environmental issues in
developed and developing countries.
The findings may help us understand the
challenges facing science educators in the
endeavor to develop students committed to
environmental action.
6
The theoretical perspectives are described by
Schreiner et al. (2005) who assume that to be
willing to meet the environmental challenges, a
person must
  • have hope and visions for the future
  • have a general feeling that she or he can
    influence the future of the world and be
    motivated to action
  • be interested and engaged in the issue

7
The ROSE Project
  • ROSE is an international comparative research
    project meant to shed light on affective factors
    of importance for the learning of science and
    technology.
  • The ROSE survey was conducted in 2003 and 2004.
  • The study comprised 36,728 students from 34
    different countries, most of them 15 years old.

8
  • The 250 questionnaire items were merged into
    composite variables or clusters, each of which
    constituted one index.
  • Students gave their responses on four-point
    Likert scales with categories of 'Not
    interested'-'Very interested,' 'Disagree'-'Agree,'
    'Not important-Very important,' and
    'Never-Often.'

9
  • Theoretical perspectives, exploratory factor
    analysis, and reliability analyses using
    Cronbach's alpha led to the structure of the
    current indexes "What I want to learn about",
    "My future job", "Me and the environmental
    challenges", "My science classes", "My opinion
    about science and technology" , "My out-of-school
    experiences" and "Me as a scientist".

10
What I want to learn about How interested are
you in learning about the following?
  • E3. The ozone layer and how it may be affected by
    humans.
  • E4. The greenhouse effect and how it may be
    changed by humans.
  • E5. What can be done to ensure clean air and
    safe drinking water.
  • E16. How to protect endangered species of
    animals.
  • E20. How energy can be saved or used in a more
    effective way.

11
My future jobHow important are the following
issues for your potential future occupation or
job?
  • B4. Working in the area of environmental
    protection.

12
Me and the environmental challengesTo what
extent do you agree with the following statements
about problems with the environment?
  • D1. Threats to the environment are not my
    business.
  • D2. Environmental problems make the future of the
    world look bleak and hopeless.
  • D3. Environmental problems are exaggerated.
  • D5. I am willing to have environmental problems
    solved even if this means sacrificing many goods.

13
Degree of development of the different countries
  • We used the Human Development Report (HDR) (UNDP,
    2003) published annually by the United Nations
    Development Program. In each HDR the countries
    are ranked according to the Human Development
    Index (HDI).

The HDI is a composite of three basic components
of human development health (life expectancy),
education (adult literacy and mean years of
schooling), and standard of living (purchasing
power, based on real GDP per capita adjusted for
the local cost of living).
14
The Human Development Index of the countries
analyzed, in 2003
GDP Per capita Life expectancy HDI Country
37,670 79.4 .963 Norway (1)
27,967 82.0 .943 Japan (11)
27,147 78.4 .939 England (15)
20,033 79.7 .915 Israel (23)
16,357 75.6 .874 Czech Rep. (31)
11,379 74.3 .858 Poland (36)
9,512 73.2 .796 Malaysia (61)
6,772 68.7 .750 Turkey (94)
2,443 36.9 .505 Zimbabwe (145)
4,726 32.5 .498 Swaziland (147)
2,561 36.3 .497 Lesotho (149)
15
Findings
  • 1. Are students' hopes and visions for the future
    of the environment related to their countries'
    degree of development?

Two items were intended to tap into
respondents' future images of the environment -
D2 Environmental problems make the future of the
world look bleak and hopeless, and - D7 We can
still find solutions to our environmental problems
16
D2 Environmental problems make the future of the
world look bleak and hopeless D7 We can still
find solutions to our environmental problems
17
On average students in all countries were
concerned (D2) and optimistic (D7) in their
approach to the future of the environment, but it
seems that students in developing countries were
more concerned and more hopeful.
18
For these two items we found an inverse
relationship with the HDI the higher the level
of development in a country,
the lower students' agreement that the world
looks "bleak and hopeless" due to the
environmental problems, Pearson .674 (p lt .01),
and the lower students' agreement that we can
still find solutions to our environmental
problems, Pearson .486 (p lt .01).
19
2. Is students' personal engagement in the
environmental protection issue related to their
countries' degree of development?
2a. Some items have in common a lack of concern -
environmental problems are overstated D3
Environmental problems are exaggerated D8
People worry too much about environmental
problems
Cronbachs alpha coefficient from 0.37 to 0.62
20
Results for environmental problems are
overstated
21
We found an inverse relationship with the HDI
the higher the level of development in a country,
  • the less students agree that environmental
    problems are overstated.
  • (Pearson .626,
  • p lt .01)

22
2b. Other items describe another aspect of lack
of concern - solving environmental problems is
somebody else's job
D1 Threats to the environment are not my
business D11 It is the responsibility of the
rich countries to solve the environmental
problems of the world D13 Environmental problems
should be left to the experts
Cronbachs alpha coefficient from 0.47 to 0.63
23
Results for solving environmental problems is
somebody elses job
24
We found a direct relationship with the HDI the
higher the level of development in a country,
  • the more students agree that solving
    environmental problems is somebody elses job.
  • (Pearson .368,
  • p lt .05)

25
2c. There are items which describe a tendency to
become involved personal involvement
D5 I am willing to have environmental problems
solved even if this means sacrificing many
goods D6 I can personally influence what happens
with the environment
Cronbachs alpha coefficient from 0.43 to 0.65
26
2d. Other items describe a tendency to collective
involvement
D7 We can still find solutions to our
environmental problems D10 People should care
more about protection of the environment D12 I
think each of us can make a significant
contribution to environmental protection
Cronbachs alpha coefficient from 0.56 to 0.79
27
Results for involvement
28
D5 - I am willing to have environmental problems
solved even if this means sacrificing many
goods, represents the strongest personally
responsible statement for the environment
29
  • We found an inverse relationship with the HDI
    the higher the level of development in a country,
    students are less
  • prepared to sacrifice goods (Pearson .658, p lt
    .05)
  • personally involved (Pearson .444, p lt
    .01)
  • collectively involved (Pearson .571, p lt .01)

30
The conclusion we may draw from these four groups
of items will be that
- Students generally recognized the severity of
global environmental issues, believed they must
become involved in them, and supported
international action to address them.
- Students in developed countries expected such
efforts to generate solutions, but were
determined that these should have minimal impact
on their own future lifestyles.
31
3. Is students' interest in learning about
environmental challenges related to their
countries' degree of development?
32
We found an inverse relationship with the HDI
the higher the level of development in a country,
the lower the students' interest in learning
environmental topics, (Pearson .866, p lt .01)
33
4. Is students' view of their future jobs as
related to environmental issues related to their
countries' degree of development?
34
We found an inverse relationship with the HDI
the higher the level of development in a country,
the lower the importance its students ascribe to
their future jobs dealing with environmental
problems, (Pearson .829, p lt .01)
35
We explored the overall similarities between
countries in all the variables considered in this
study, by a hierarchical cluster analysis.
Results are presented in a dendrogram.
36
Following, we performed a MANOVA and t-tests
comparing high HDI countries from one side, and
mid and low HDI countries from the other side.
Students in medium and low developed countries
are
- more concerned and optimistic about
environmental problems - more personally and
collectively involved in environmental issues -
more interested in learning environmental topics
and in seeing their future jobs dealing with
environmental protection.
37
Conclusions
  • The findings show a very similar pattern of
    responses across the industrialized countries in
    contrast to that in the developing world.

38
So, what should be the implications for
environmental science education?
We think it is important to develop environmental
science education programs that are based on each
country's own ecological, cultural, political,
educational, and economic context.
39
The main issue in developed countries is to
enhance students' concern for an involvement in
environmental problems, and to increase students'
interest in learning environmental topics.
Against that, environmental science education in
developing countries may rely on the more
positive attitudes shown by youngsters.
40
Schreiner Sjøberg (2005) have argued that one
of the main goals of environmental science
education for empowering students in developed
countries to act responsibly with the
environmental issue should be stimulating
students' awareness of what future they would
prefer, that is visualizing the alternatives and
the aims one wants to work towards.
41
Thakadu (1997) recommended that "indigenous
knowledge should form the basis of environmental
conservation education in developing countries,
and that it should be a vital component in every
subject matter.
Van Damme (1999) highlighted the role of adults
in enriching the curriculum and argued for a
contextualizing of schools in communities.
42
She also argued for the need "to bridge gaps and
provide space in schools for adults to interact
with learners about indigenous environmental
knowledge learnt at home.
Also of importance in the incorporation of
indigenous knowledge into formal education is the
inclusion of traditional methods of teaching and
learning (oral transmission methods) and the use
of local community resource persons (particularly
the elders who are considered repositories of
indigenous knowledge in communities) (Shava ,
2005).
43
Concluding
In developed countries, where youngsters reject
ideologies and role models, we may rely only on
students visions of their own future
alternatives.
Against that, in developing countries it may be
possible to lean on indigenous or local
knowledge transmitted mainly by ancestors.
44
Thank you very much for your attention. Shalom!
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