ERG SES C 08, Sustainability and Education
Sustainable development aims to increase quality of life, but it also aims to conserve natural sources. By this way, next generations could use these sources (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). Sustainable development has three dimensions which are environmental, economic and social. In developing countries like Turkey, natural sources are rapidly consumed in order to provide economic development. However, destruction of natural sources damages three dimensions of sustainable development in the long run. Hence, people need to be conscious about sustainable development to prevent destruction of natural sources and damages to dimensions of sustainable development. However, people consciousness about sustainable development does not arise spontaneously, so they should be educated in sustainability consciousness. Thus, teachers and teacher candidates must be conscious in this issue first.
Sustainability consciousness is comprised of three dimensions which are knowledge, attitude, and behavior (Olsson, 2014). Thus, current research explores Turkish teacher candidates’ sustainability consciousness levels, entailing the aspects knowingness, attitudes, and behavior in the environmental, economic and social dimension of sustainable development. Hence, this study has one research question: “What is the sustainability consciousness (knowingness, attitudes, and behavior) level of Turkish teacher candidates?”
Identification of teacher candidates' sustainability consciousness level will make some contributions to science education. Firstly, a strategy for sustainable development can be developed according to the results of this study. Secondly, this study provides feedback about how sustainability related education faculty courses are effective. Lastly, Manni, Sporre and Ottander (2013) claimed that there is no enough information to construct a theory on education for sustainable development, so findings about teacher candidates’ sustainability consciousness level can contribute on construction of a theory about this issue.
A total of 707 teacher candidates (566 females and 141 males) who were enrolled in a college of education drawn from six different universities in 3 geographical regions participated in the study. Of the participants, 393 were from Central Anatolia, 232 from Aegean, and 82 from the ones located in the Eastern Anatolia regions of Turkey. Their majors were science education (57.4%), early childhood education (16.3%), primary education (19.4%), and social sciences education (6.4%). There is one main reason for why those educational disciplines were included in the study was that these candidates are going to teach concepts of sustainable development to their future classrooms. Data collected by Turkish version of sustainability consciousness questionnaire developed by Olsson (2014) and used by following studies (Olsson & Gericke, 2016; Olsson, Gericke, & Chang Rundgren, 2016). Original scale had 50 items and included 3 dimensions (knowingness, attitude and behavior). In this 5 point Likert scale, numbers of items of knowingness, attitudes and behavior were 19, 14, and 17 respectively. Each dimension included environmental, social and economic components of sustainable development. In adaptation process, 2 item was added to original scale. According to confirmatory factor analysis results, 1 item was removed. With Turkish samples, the Cronbach’s alpha reliability of the sustainability consciousness scale was found as 0. 93. The internal consistency of knowingness, attitudes, and behavior were reported as 0.91, 0.87, and 0.83 respectively. Descriptive statistics were used to reveal teacher candidates’ sustainability consciousness level.
Descriptive results revealed teacher candidates perceived themselves as having relatively high levels of sustainability consciousness (M= 4.04, SD= .42), as indicated by the mean scores ranging from 4.29 to 3.76 on a 5-point scale. For example, the mean score for the sustainability attitudes is the highest of all subscales (M=4.29, SD= .51) followed by sustainability knowingness (M=4.12, SD= .52). The sustainability behavior, on the other hand, has the lowest (M=3.76, SD= .48). These results imply that although candidates felt favorable attitude towards sustainability, they had difficulty in behaving or acting pro-environmentally. As far as environmental, economic and social knowingness, attitude and behavior dimensions of SD are considered, teacher candidates had higher mean scores on items pertaining to social dimension (M= 4.10, SD=.45) when compared with the mean scores of environmental (M= 4.07, SD=.46) and economic (M= 3.91, SD=.46) dimensions. Participants’ scores indicate wide range of knowingness. Compared to other items in the knowingness scale, the highest percentage of agreement obtained with statement that “Improving people’s chances for healthy life contributes to sustainable development.” (89.2%). However; “Gender equality is essential for sustainable development” statement was least supported by participants (61.1%). Similarly, participants’ attitudes scores varied. The statement that was most supported by teacher candidates was “The present generation should make sure that the next generation can live in communities that are at least as healthy as those that exist today” (92.8%). On the other hand; the lowest percentage of agreement obtained with statement that “I think that we need stricter laws and regulations to protect environment” (72.9 %). Lastly, behavior scores had wide range. The highest agreement was obtained in “I show same respect to men and women” (89.1%); however, the lowest agreement was obtained in “I work on committees (e.g. the student council,) at my school.” (30%).
Brundtland Commission. World commission on environment and development.(1987). Our common future. Manni, A., Sporre, K., & Ottander, C. (2013). Mapping what young students understand and value regarding sustainable development. International Electronic Journal of Environmental Education 3, 17-34 Olsson, D. (2014). Young people’s ‘sustainability consciousness: Effects of ESD implementation in Swedish schools. Licentiate Thesis, Karlstad University Studies Olsson, D. & Gericke, N. (2016). The adolescent dip in students’ sustainability consciousness-Implication for education for sustainable development. The Journal of Environmental Education, 47, 35-51. Olsson, D. Gericke, N. & Chang Rundgren, S.-N. (2016). The effect of implementation of education for sustainable development in Swedish compulsory schools-assessing pupils’ sustainability consciousness. Environmental Education Research, 22, 176-202.
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