30 SES 12 B, Environmental Literacy
One of the most worrisome environmental challenges today is climate change, and, in particular, global warming (Suyatna & Rosidin, 2017). In recent years, awareness about environmental issues has increased among the general public around the world, and, consequently, also in the State of Israel. Issues like depletion of natural resources, air pollution, reduction of the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect and more are topics for discussion. Examining student knowledge, beliefs, and willingness to act on issues related to the environment and sustainability has become an issue in educational frameworks (Klongyut, Singseewo & Suksringarm, 2015). The current international United Nations programmes like Sustainable Development Goals (especially goal 4 “for Quality Education”) (United Nations, 2016) and the UNESCO Programme ESDfor2030 (UNESCO, 2020) point to crucial importance of a sustainable future. In the past decade, environmental education – both formal and informal – has been expanding in all educational institutions in Israel, from kindergarten to higher education (Tal, 2009). One of the goals of environmental education is to persuade people to behave in a pro-environmental manner (Kılınç, Boyes & Stanisstreet, 2011). In the age of climate crisis, global inequalities and austerity measures, it is crucial to empower people not only to change their thinking but also to change their actions. The development of action competence (Breiting & Mogensen, 1999) or shaping competence (de Haan, 2006; Rauch & Steiner, 2013) of the pupils is still a main goal of environmental education for sustainability.
The connection of Israel’s Arab community to the environment is influenced by its traditional lifestyle. Some aspects of this lifestyle are environmentally sound, such as economical and chemical-free farming, consuming products from home or local production although fewer young people maintain this traditional lifestyle. Generally speaking, the Arab public is perceived as having low environmental awareness, both by the community itself and by others (Bendas-Jacob, Donitz and Reznikowski, 2012). On the one hand, ongoing development and use of the land’s natural resources by the Jewish majority politicizes issues of the environment, while on the other hand, the environment is seen as a global, non-political issue that must be pursued for the common good.
To get an insight in the environmental beliefs of students as well as taking into account their different cultural background, the Academic Arab College of Education conducted a quantitative study in 2019. The purpose of this study was to examine students’ beliefs about the efficacy of specific actions in mitigating global warming, as well as to measure and describe their willingness to engage in pro-environmental activities on behalf of the environment. The study also aimed to determine whether there is a relationship between “belief in the utility of action” and the “degree of willingness to act” in students and to ascertain whether the relationship between the two is affected by such variables as gender and sector. The results of the study may serve as a basis for planning pro-environmental educational intervention among students and educators.
The research questions that guided the present study included the following:
- To what extent do students believe that various pro-environmental actions can mitigate global warming? (Belief in the utility of action)
- To what extent are students willing to adopt these actions? (Willingness to act)
- Is there a connection between students beliefs in the utility of action and the degree of their willingness to engage in environmental activity?
- Are there differences between Jewish students and Arab students in their beliefs about the utility of action and their willingness to engage in pro-environmental activity?
- Are there differences between boys and girls in their beliefs about the utility of action and their willingness to engage in pro-environmental activity?
The present study is a descriptive-correlational study that examined a statistical relationship, without an intervention plan. Data collection was done using a closed-ended questionnaire. The questionnaire was based on a questionnaire from Kılınç, Boyes & Stanisstreet’s 2011 research study. The study population was made up of 11th grade students in the environmental science track in high school. The study sample included 122 students from schools in both the Arab and Jewish sectors in Israel. The sample was not a random sample, but a convenience sample, made up of students from four high schools: two Arab high schools (60, 49.2%), and two Jewish high schools (62, 50.8%). The classes from which the subjects were chosen were heterogeneous, and consisted of boys (46, 37.75%) and girls (76, 62.3%). As the study sample is a “convenience sample” and is not based on a random statistical sample, it should be noted that the current research concerns both Arab and Jewish sectors, but both are diverse, and therefore the extent to which findings can be generalized in both sectors is limited. Preparing the study included compiling a final version of the questionnaire in both Arabic and Hebrew, and checking its internal consistency. The collected data was quantified in Excel tables, and processed and analysed using statistical tools in SPSS software. Mean and standard deviations, percentages and distributions, Pearson and Spearman coefficient tests were calculated. Internal consistency of the questionnaires was measured by using Cronbach’s alpha and has proven to be high (0.89). For the statistical tests, a t-test was used for independent samples, as well as one-way ANOVA.
The findings of the present study indicate that students expressed positive beliefs about the efficacy of actions on behalf of the environment. The study found that the higher the level of student belief in the efficacy of action in reducing global warming, the greater their willingness to participate in pro-environmental activities. They expressed and reported willingness to adopt or take certain moderate measures, such as turning off unused electrical appliances, and they expressed belief in the efficacy of action to reduce global warming to a greater than moderate degree, with more tree planting considered to be the most effective action. Students see themselves as active members, initiators and community participants, and take responsible roles in core community and national decisions. There is also a strong connection between student beliefs and their willingness to act. It was found that as the level of student belief in the efficacy of action in reducing global warming increases, their willingness to act on behalf of the environment increases as well. The study also found a significant difference between Jewish students and Arab students in their willingness to act on behalf of the environment, with Jewish students more prepared than Arab students to take such actions. The present study showed that boys and girls are similarly willing to take action, with no significant difference between them. The main conclusion of this research is that students have a strong desire to embrace pro-environmental behaviors to minimize negative impacts on the earth and to arrest the deterioration of its condition. In addition, the research findings indicate the need to intervene to promote a pro-environmental agenda and adopt positive environmental values. Environmental education components of the curriculum should be tailored to the needs of all students in Israel and respond to student differences stemming from cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic factors.
Bendas-Jacob, A., Donitz, D. and Reznikowski, A. (2012). Green perception - Social typologies and values in relation to environmental commitment in Israel [Hebrew]. Henrietta Szold Institute. Available at https://www.szold.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Sviva-1.pdf. Accessed on 23.12.2019. Breiting, S. & Mogensen, F. (1999). Action Competence and Environmental Education, Cambridge Journal of Education, 29:3, 349-353. de Haan, G. (2006). The BLK ’21’ programme in germany: A ’gestaltungskompetenz’- based model for education for sustainable development. Environmental Education Research, 12(1), 19–32. Kılınç, A., Boyes, E., & Stanisstreet, M. (2011). Turkish school students and global warming: beliefs and willingness to act. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 7(2), 121-134. Klongyut, S., Singseewo, A., & Suksringarm, P. (2015). A development of participation of primary school students in conservation of school environments. Educational Research and Reviews, 10(18), 2599-2605. Lai, C. S. (2018). A Study of Fifth Graders’ Environmental Learning Outcomes in Taipei. International Journal of Research in Education and Science, 4(1), 252-262. Rauch, F. & Steiner, R. (2013). Competences for Education for Sustainable Development in Teacher Education. CEPS-Journal (Centre for Educational Policy Studies Journal), Jg. 3, Heft 1, S. 9-24 Suyatna, A., & Rosidin, U. (2017). Teachers and student’s knowledge about global warming: A study in smoke disaster area of Indonesia. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 12(4), 777-786. Tal, T. (2009). Environmental education and sustainability education - Principles, concepts and directions [Hebrew]. Jerusalem: Ministry of Environmental Protection. United Nations. 2015. Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Retrieved from: https://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E UNESCO. 2020. Education for Sustainable Development. A roadmap. ESD for2030. Paris, UNESCO.
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.