ERG SES D 05, Sustainability and Education
Environmental education is one of the fields becoming popular in early childhood education since this period is a basis for all developmental areas and it provides a lifelong
learning which results in attitudes, behaviors and skills promoting sustainable development (Pearson & Degotardi, 2009; Ernst & Tornabene, 2012). Unfortunately, the time that children spend playing and interacting with nature declines steadily due to teachers’ inadequate experiences in nature (Crim, Desjean-Perrotta, & Moseley, 2008). Hence, it is needed to motivate pre-service teachers to use and integrate nature into teaching but firstly, it is significant to comprehend their attitudes and perceptions towards environmental issues (Ernst, & Tornabene, 2012).
Although there is a growing disposition for involving children into nature, there is a limited research about early childhood environmental education and education for sustainability (Davis, 2009). In addition, Torquati, Cutler, Gilkerson, & Sarver (2013) assert that there is a limited information about early childhood educators’ knowledge, attitudes and confidence levels about implementing environmental education. Therefore, the purpose of the current study is to fill this gap by investigating the relationship between pre-service early childhood education teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs regarding environmental education and their attitudes towards sustainable environment. Moreover, the current research is under propped by the premise which teachers’ beliefs, knowledge and their thinking influences the content of teaching since teachers are disposed to teach the issue that they are authority on and interested in (Evans, Whitehouse, & Hickey; 2012). Therefore, the current study aims to answer following research questions;
1.What are the general patterns of pre-service ECE teachers’ environmental education self-efficacy beliefs and attitudes towards sustainable environment?
2. Do pre-service ECE teachers’ environmental education self-efficacy beliefs and attitudes towards sustainable environment differ with respect to taking environmental education and sustainability courses and their grade levels?
3. Is there a relationship between pre-service ECE teachers’ environmental education self-efficacy beliefs and their attitudes towards sustainable environment?
In the 2015-2016 academic year, the data was collected from the pre-service early childhood education teachers who were freshman, sophomore, junior and senior student teachers. Of the 129 participants, 24 (18.6%) were in the first year of the program (freshman), 31 (24.0%) were in the second-year students (sophomore), 42 (32.6%) were third-year students (junior), 32 (24.8%) were in their fourth year of the program (senior). In order to determine pre-service early childhood teachers’ attitudes toward sustainable environment, the data were obtained by Sustainable Environment Attitude Scale (SEAS) which was developed by Yıldız (2011). Besides, to identify pre-service early childhood teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs about environmental education, the data was acquired through Environmental Education Self-efficacy Scale (EESS) developed by Özlü, Keskin, & Gül (2013). The data of this study was analyzed by utilizing IBM® SPSS Version 23 software. In the course of investigation, descriptive statistics were employed to examine demographic information of participants. For a convenient analysis of results, mean scores of SEAS and EESS were calculated first. Following Shapiro-Wilk test assuming the normal distribution of datasets (p>.05), independent sample t-test analysis was conducted for comparison of groups. Moreover, one-way analysis of variances (ANOVA) was executed for contrasting groups in terms of grade level. In addition to this, the Tukey HSD post-hoc analysis was conducted for significant F values in order to comprehend the source of significance. Lastly, the Pearson’s correlation was employed to investigate the relationship between environmental education self-efficacy beliefs and sustainable environment attitudes scale scores.
The results of the t-test analysis indicated that there is no significant difference between pre-service teachers’ environmental education self-efficacy beliefs depending on taking environmental education course or not (t(127)=1.04, p=.30). Also, there is a significant difference between pre-service teachers’ who have taken sustainability course attitudes towards sustainability environment (Mdn=1.0) and pre-service teachers not taking sustainability course (Mdn=2.0), U=1418.0, p=.004. In addition to this, there is no significant difference in pre-service teachers’ environmental education self-efficacy beliefs according to grade level [F(3, 125) =.35, p=.789]. Moreover, there is a statistically significant difference in pre-service teachers’ sustainable environment attitudes depending on grade level and sophomores have higher attitudes compared to other students χ2 (3, N=129) =12.48, p=.006. The last investigation of this study is to determine the relationship between pre-service teachers’ environmental education self-efficacy beliefs and their attitudes towards sustainable environment. In order to detect this relationship, a Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation analysis was implemented. Based on the results, it can be specified that there is a statistically meaningful linear relationship between pre-service teachers environmental education self-efficacy beliefs and their attitudes toward sustainable environment (r=.246; p<.01) with a small effect size according to Pallant (2005)
Boileau, E. Y. S. (2014). Young Voices: The challenges and opportunities that arise in early childhood environmental education research. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE), 18, 142-154. Crim, C., Desjean-Perrotta, B., & Moseley, C. (2008). Partnerships gone WILD: preparing teachers of young children to teach about the natural world. Childhood education, 85(1), 6-12. Cutter-Mackenzie, A., & Smith, R. (2003). Ecological literacy: the ‘missing paradigm’in environmental education (part one). Environmental Education Research, 9(4), 497-524. Davis, J. (2009). Revealing the research ‘hole’of early childhood education for sustainability: A preliminary survey of the literature. Environmental Education Research, 15(2), 227-241. Dyment, J. E., Davis, J. M., Nailon, D., Emery, S., Getenet, S., McCrea, N., & Hill, A. (2014). The impact of professional development on early childhood educators’ confidence, understanding and knowledge of education for sustainability. Environmental Education Research, 20(5), 660-679. Effeney, G., & Davis, J. (2013). Education for sustainability: A case study of pre-service primary teachers' knowledge and efficacy. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38(5), 32-46. Ernst, J., & Tornabene, L. (2012). Preservice early childhood educators’ perceptions of outdoor settings as learning environments. Environmental Education Research, 18(5), 643-664. Ozlu, G., Keskin, M. Ö., & Gul, A. (2013). Çevre Eğitimi Öz-Yeterlik Ölçeği Geliştirilmesi: Geçerlik ve Güvenirlik Çalışması [The Development of "Self Efficacy Scale for Environmental Education": A Study of Validity and Reliability] Gazi University Journal of Gazi Educational Faculty (GUJGEF), 33(2). Pallant, J. (2013). SPSS survival manual. McGraw-Hill Education (UK). Pearson, E., & Degotardi, S. (2009). Education for sustainable development in early childhood education: A global solution to local concerns. International Journal of Early Childhood, 419, 97–111. Torquati, J., Cutler, K., Gilkerson, D., & Sarver, S. (2013). Early Childhood Educators' Perceptions of Nature, Science, and Environmental Education. Early Education & Development, 24(5), 721-743. Yıldız, Ş. (2011). Öğretmenlerin, öğretmen adaylarının ve öğrencilerin sürdürülebilir çevre ile ilgili kavramsal anlamaları ve tutumları [Conceptual Understanding and Attitudes of Teachers, Prospective Teachers and Students towards Sustainable Environment ] (Master’s thesis, Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi, İzmir, Turkey). Retrieved from: http://acikerisim.deu.edu.tr/xmlui/handle/12345/7151
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