30 SES 12 A, Global Citizenship Education and ESE (Part II)
Paper Session Part II, continued from 30 SES 05 A
Environmental optimism and pro-environmental behaviors are considered important dimensions of science education in many countries (Alves et al, 2009). Although science pedagogy and increased participation in science activities may play a role in fostering students’ knowledge of and interest in the environment, teaching science alone may not cultivate the attitudes, behaviors, and responsibility for action needed to tackle the global nature of environmental challenges. Instead, students who learn in contexts where global perspectives are emphasized and where citizens see themselves as global citizens may develop a greater awareness of the impact of science on the lives of others, and in turn, more strongly identify prosocial behaviors that promote environmental sustainability and responsible action. In this paper, we employ data from the PISA-2015, which emphasized science education in combination with a country level measure of global citizenship identification created with data from the WVS-6 to investigate the individual, school, and national factors that condition environmental optimism in six countries. Using multi-level modeling techniques, we address several questions: 1) To what extent do students demonstrate environmental optimism, and how does environmental optimism differ between countries and between schools within countries? 2) What are the important individual and school level factors associated with increased environmental optimism among students, and does this differ by country? 3) Does growing up in national contexts with greater levels of global citizenship identification condition environmental optimism?
Conceptual framework: Linking Global Citizenship Identification with Environmental Optimism
Over the last decade, interest in promoting environmental awareness in school has increased as governmental officials, policymakers, and environmental advocates identified factors associated with the development of pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors. In recent years, international reports that emphasize the global climate crisis have intensified interest in education for sustainable development (ESD) and environmental education in developing environmental awareness (Evans, et al, 2007; Newman & Fernandes, 2016). Environmental optimism captures whether individuals believe that their future is going to be better – environmentally – than the present. (OECD, 2015a; Erbas, Tuncer, & Tekkaya, 2012). Although, previous research in other countries indicates that several characteristics related to individual level socio-economic background as well as overall science literacy are associated with attitudes and interactions with the environment, little is known about the ways in which identification with the global community may condition environmental optimism.
Drawing on both global citizen attributes (Falk, 1993; Gerzon, 2010) and environmental education (Palmer, 1998), we conceptualize environmental optimism as not only one’s belief about the future, but also an understanding of their own agency in relation to the future global environment. In this way, environmental optimism is re-conceptualized as partially dependent on global perspectives, interconnections, social justice, and intercultural relationships, and can only be truly cultivated through a global citizen identification contextualized with an understanding of economic, social, and ecological interdependence. Moreover, a global citizenship identification may motivate students toward more environmentally beneficial patterns of behavior by inspiring positive feelings associated with being a part of and contributing to a global community. Importantly, previous research suggests that global citizenship identification can be a normative environment that promotes prosocial outcomes and the responsibility to act (Reysen & Katzarska-Miller, 2013). In this way, students who grow up in a context where global citizenship identity is salient may be better positioned to develop environmental optimism.
We employ data from a subsample of six countries that are represented in the Program for International Assessment data from PISA-2015 and the World Values Survey wave 6 (WVS-6). For individual level and school level data, our analyses rely on data derived from PISA-2015, a triennial survey that is representative of the full population of 15 year-old students in participating countries conducted by the OECD. PISA-2015 was utilized because science was the main subject of the 2015 assessment; as such, it collected measures of students’ science attitudes including those related to the environment. We also utilize the World Values Survey Wave 6 (WVS-6) to create a country level measure of global citizenship identification using individual level data from a sample of more than 100,000 respondents between 2010 and 2014. WVS-6 is a representative, comparative social survey which is conducted globally every five years to assess values stability and change overtime. We also use national level indicators of environmental performance collected by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network in 2014 and GDP per capita in 2015 provided by the World Bank and measured in US dollars In our analyses, we match approximately 70,000 students who are enrolled in schools from the PISA-2015 with country level data from six countries measuring global citizenship identification from the WVS-6. In this way, we link student levels of environmental optimism to individual and school level characteristics as well as national aggregate measures of global citizenship. The PISA data utilizes a hierarchical data structure with students nested in schools nested in countries. In order to prevent an overestimation of standard errors associated with the clustering of the data, we estimate multilevel regression models with three levels: student, school, and country. In addition, we include student sampling weights provided by PISA to account for the complex survey design as well as different population sizes in different countries. We examine student levels of environmental optimism and variation by country and school, by fitting a null model without predictors to explore the proportion of variance that can be explained by school and country differences. We utilize the intraclass correlation on the school and country levels to determine the proportion of variance attributable to both. To address the remaining research questions, we fit a series of nested random effects models to empirically test whether there are important effects associated with global citizenship identification individual and school level variables.
Within a global context of increasingly urgent environmental problems but low levels of engagement and trust in science in some parts of world, these research findings actionable knowledge to our understanding of environmental attitudes by highlighting both the individual and school level factors associated with increased environmental optimism. Preliminary analyses indicate several notable findings. First, the effect of individual level characteristics on environmental optimism is significant across countries. For example, students who participate in more inquiry-based science activities have higher levels of environmental optimism. However, when we control for individual and school characteristics, students who live in countries where a greater percentage of the population identify strongly as global citizens have lower levels environmental optimism as well. Interestingly, country-level perceptions on citizens’ position in the world condition environmental optimism even when controlling for level of economic development and dimensions of school quality. These findings are important because they suggest that even though science itself may be universal, attitudes about science, and specifically about the environment, are shaped not only by science knowledge and applied practice, but also by students’ parental attitudes and the capacity to cross national and cultural borders as global citizens. The findings spotlight the important role of global citizenship identification in creating a context for students to effectively internalize environmental optimism as a pathway to responsible action. This result is important in two ways: 1) reconceptualizing the links between social identity and science learning and 2) identifying the opportunity to develop a global identity as a dimension of educational equality. In this way, this study provides a valuable case study for policymakers and scholars interested in promoting pro-environmental behaviors through education. Teaching sustainability alone may not be enough to mobilize young citizens to address the global climate crisis.
Erbas, A. K., Tuncer Teksoz, G., & Tekkaya, C. (2012). An evaluation of environmental responsibility and its associated factors: Reflections from PISA 2006. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research, 46, 41-62. Evans, G. W., Brauchle, G., Haq, A., Stecker, R., Wong, K., & Shapiro, E. (2007). Young children's environmental attitudes and behaviors. Environment and Behavior, 39, 635–659. Falk, R.(1993) The Making of Global Citizenship, in J. Brecher,J. Brown Childs, & J. Cutler (Eds) Global Visions: beyond the new world Order. Boston: South End Press. Gerzon, M. (2010) Global Citizens: How our vision of the world is outdated, and what we can do about it. Rider: London. Newman, T.P. & Fernandes, R.(2016) A Reassessment of factors associated with environmental concern and behavior using the General Social Survey. Environmental Education Research. 22, 153-175. OECD (2015a) PISA 2015 Results (Volume 1): Excellence and Equity in Education. OECD: Paris, France. Palmer. J.A.(1998) Environmental Education in the 21st Century: Theory, Practice, Progress, and Promise. Routledge: London. Reysen, S. & Katzarska-Miller, I. (2013) A model of global citizenship: Antecedents and outcomes. International Journal of Psychology 48, 5, 858-870.
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