Modelling Preservice Science Teachers’ Environment-Friendly Behaviours
Modelling Preser vice Science Teachers' Environment-Friendly Behaviours
Murat Berat U?ar 0
0 Kilis 7 Aralik University
Modelling Preservice Science Teachers? Environment-Friendly Behaviours
Murat Berat U?ar Kilis 7 Aralik University, Turkey Erdal Canpolat Firat University, Turkey
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships
among the preservice science teachers? proenvironmental behaviours,
environmental identity, and ecocentric and anthropocentric attitudes
toward environment. A total of 576 (407 females and 169 males)
preservice science teachers enrolling in five public universities?
education faculties in Eastern and South-eastern Anatolian Region of
Turkey were administered a questionnaire regarding the variables.
Convenience sampling method was chosen to constitute the sample of
this study. In order to analyse the data collected, descriptive statistics
and path analysis as inferential statistics were utilized. According to
the results of the study, preservice science teachers held moderate
level of favourable environmental behaviours, had strong
environmental identity, and possessed high level of ecocentric and
moderate level of anthropocentric attitudes toward environment.
Moreover, environmental identity directly and strongly predicted the
preservice science teachers? proenvironmental behaviours. The
findings revealed that environmental identity plays a crucial role in
predicting proenvironmental behaviours.
The increase in the consumption of natural resources and industrialization in
developed and developing countries inevitably diminished natural resources, and led us to a
less sustainable environment for the future. Many environmental issues such as pollution of
air and water, deforestation, droughts, famines have arisen due to the increasing population
demanding a more comfortable and prosperous lifestyle
(Ketel, 2004; Natural Resources
Defence Council [NRDC], 2013)
. To illustrate, increasing amount of fossil fuel consumptions
through industries and transportation vehicles in recent decades led to rise in carbon dioxide
in the atmosphere, which resulting in heating the sphere
(Andres et al., 2012; Fadnavis,
Kumar, Tiwari, & Pozzoli, 2016; Forster et al., 2007; Garg, Bhattacharya, Shukla, &
. As a result of this heating, melting massive icebergs changes salinity level
of oceans, ocean currents, and sea levels. All of these consequences were considered as the
possible reasons of climatic changes
. Along with overconsumption of natural
resources by the society, the world began to experience hotter summers and warmer winters.
Moreover, excessive rains leading to floods, desertification, diminishing of effective
agriculture are some of consequences as World Meteorological Organisation
reported. Since it is clear to deduce that all these issues are rooted from humans and their
lifestyles, their actions can be considered as determinants shaping the fate of the environment
and the nature. Therefore, human behaviour was considered as the one of major reason of
(Gardner & Stern, 2002)
In order to solve or reduce the consequences of environmental issues, environmental
education can be considered a major area because environmental education encourages
individuals to protect the environment against existing and potential global and local
(Cole, 2007, Toumey et al., 2010)
. In this manner, environmental
education aims individuals to have awareness of the environmental issues, to realize how
human actions cause to environmental issues, to come up with solutions or suggestions to
those issues, and finally to put such solutions into practice in their daily lives. Since
environmental education intends to help humanity by educating students as
environmentfriendly individuals, teachers? actions and attitudes related to environment will be crucial
since they are role models of their students in the future. Because students? behaviours are
influenced by teachers? behaviours (Darling-Hammond, Hyler, & Gardner, 2017), teacher
education programs focuses on preservice teachers to develop necessary behaviours.
Therefore, environmental education seems to be one of the important stands in teacher
Educating individuals in order to conserve the natural resources, and develop
understandings about more sustainable ways of living is considered a promising way for the
future of the nature and society
(Tuncer et al., 2009)
. One of focus point is set to sustain
proper human behaviour toward the environment to reduce these environmental risks such as
excessive amount of greenhouse gas emissions, rising sea levels, and climate change, which
are believed to happen due to anthropogenic causes
(Food and Agriculture Organisation of
the United Nations [FAO], 2007; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC], 2014)
In addition, environmental attitudes were considered as the most widely used variable that is
corresponded with the environmental behaviours (Corraliza & Berenguer, 2000). In this
regard, scholars were inspired from theories interrelating behaviours and attitudes such as
Theory of Reasoned Action
(Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975)
and Theory of Planned Behaviour
. According to these theories, individuals develop attitudes that shapes their
behaviours, and both attitudes and behaviours can be altered depending on facing with
positive or negative consequences
(Fishbein & Ajzen, 2010)
. In similar,
proposed two values reflecting positive support for reducing environmental
issues and different reasons to conserving the environment, namely ecocentric and
anthropocentric. They defined ecocentrism as personal support for preserving all living things
in the nature because of their own right to live, whereas anthropocentrism was defined as
possessing positive attitudes toward environment because in return the nature serves humans
and contributes to life quality of society. Based on the earlier reports, many studies revealed
that ecocentric attitudes are positively related with proenvironmental behaviours
Scott, 2011; Gheith, 2013; Kil, Holland, & Stein, 2014; Martin & Bateman, 2014; Rhead,
Elliot, & Upham, 2015; Thapa, 2010)
although some reported the opposite
and anthropocentric attitudes are negatively linked with environmental behaviours
Ozbas, Sargin, & Baltaci, 2016)
. In some studies, individuals? higher anthropocentric
attitudes were associated with better actions in environmental protection
(Harris, 2006; Kaida
& Kaida, 2016)
Nonetheless, because studies were generally able to report modest relationships
between attitudes and behaviours, new variables were attempted to investigate to explore this
relationship such as personal identities
(Stets & Biga, 2003)
. Accordingly, some researchers
criticized that ignoring the people? identity could be inadequate when one claims that
attitudes are only reason of influencing behaviours. In line with this, the role of the self was
brought forward as important variable to predict the one?s behaviour
(Biddle et al. 1985; Stets
& Burke, 2002)
. With respect to environmentalism, it seems crucial to understand how a
person socially perceives to and interacts with the nature because it may help to determine
person?s environmental identity. Therefore, environmental identities of individuals are
supposed to play important roles in forecasting their environmental behaviours
. Van der Werff, Steg, and Keizer (2013) introduced that environmental
selfidentity concept, which refers to seeing one?s himself as a what type of person who behaves
environmentally friendly, is closely related to one?s core values and past behaviours.
Accordingly, holding biospheric values more strongly leads to feel as more proenvironmental
person, resulting in motivating proenvironmental actions. On the other hand, it is important to
note that although values, environmental self-identities, and behaviours are related, they are
not consistent all the time. For example, people who have strong biospheric values may not
exhibit much proenvironmental behaviours because their identity do not include those
(Biel, Dahlstrand, & Grankvist, 2005)
found that self-identity was predicted the proenvironmental behaviours
significantly and more than attitudes, risk perceptions, knowledge, and beliefs. Similarly,
identity effect was found significant predictor for consumption behaviours and buying new
(Cook, Kerr, & Moore, 2002; Grewal, Mehta, & Kardes, 2000)
. Thus, personal
identities of individuals were assumed as a significant motivator of their behaviours.
Another factor that can influence the proenvironmental behaviours was gender. With
respect to gender, diverse results were reported based on type of behaviour measured, place
of the study, selection of other variables, and control of these variables
(Dietz, Kalof, &
Stern, 2002; Katz-Gerro, Greenspan, Handy, Lee, & Frey, 2015; Wallhagen, Eriksson, &
S?rqvist, 2018; Zelezny, Chua, & Aldrich, 2000)
. Accordingly, studies consistently revealed
that females have stronger proenvironmental attitudes than males
(Lee, 2009; Torgler,
Garcia-Vali?as, & Macintyre, 2008; Vinz, 2009; Xiao & Hong, 2010; Zelezny et al., 2000)
while Mostafa (2007) reported that women have lower environmental attitudes compared to
men. Concerning environmental identity,
Clayton and Kilinc (2013)
reported that females
had significantly environmental identity in their study investigating the natural identity and
environmental identity of university students. On the other hand, gender roles in
environmental identity remained inconclusive. While some studies
(Karpiak & Baril, 2008;
Tikka, Kuitunen, & Tynys, 2000)
claimed that concerns and favourable relations of females
toward environment were better than males, some studies
(Katz-Gerro et al., 2015; Koc &
Kuvac, 2016; Macdonald & Hara, 1994)
indicated that males were more positive attitudes or
behaviours toward environmental concerns. Nonetheless, there were some studies claiming
that gender did not play significant role in environmentalism
(Uyeki & Holland, 2000; Ozturk
& Teksoz, 2016)
Consequently, since few studies touched on that environmental identity may be an
important factor in predicting proenvironmental behaviours of preservice science teachers
(Clayton & Kilinc, 2013; Tanik, 2012)
, it is reasonable to investigate relationships among
environmental identity, environmental attitudes, gender, and proenvironmental behaviours.
Concordantly, the preservice science teachers were selected as participants since they play
crucial role in modelling themselves to our children in terms being environmentally literate
and environment-friendly people
(Clayton, 2004; McKeown & Hopkins, 2002; Pe'er, Yavetz,
& Goldman, 2013)
. For this purpose, a proposed model (see Fig. 1) was tested and following
research questions were addressed:
1. What is the level of preservice science teachers? proenvironmental behaviours,
environmental identities, ecocentric attitudes, and anthropocentric attitudes?
2. What is the relationship among preservice science teachers? proenvironmental
behaviours, environmental identities, ecocentric attitudes, anthropocentric
attitudes, and gender?
This quantitative research was designed by combining two methodologies together,
which are namely onetime cross sectional survey and correlational study. In onetime cross
sectional survey studies, information for study is collected at one point in time from a sample
of predetermined population. Correlational studies aim to investigate the relationships among
the variables of the study
(Fraenkel & Wallen, 2006)
. Descriptive analysis including mean
and standard deviation was calculated to reveal the level of preservice science teachers?
proenvironmental behaviours, environmental identity, ecocentric and anthropocentric
attitudes. Moreover, the proposed model represented in Fig. 1 was constructed based on the
relevant literature. This model was tested using path analysis, which is a statistical analysis
assuming several causal models among variables and applying multiple regression analysis
(Cohen, Cohen, West, & Aiken, 2003)
. Therefore, this analysis enabled the researchers to test
how proenvironmental behaviours, environmental identity, and environmental attitudes were
predicted by related variables as the proposed model indicated.
The target population of this study consisted of all preservice science teachers
enrolled in a four-year teacher education program of education faculties in public universities
located in Eastern Anatolia and Southeaster Anatolia Regions of Turkey. However, the
accessible population was compulsorily determined from five public universities in target
population. Through convenience sampling procedure, a total of 576 (407 female, 169 male)
preservice science teachers was determined as sample of the study. In terms of educational
level, there were 162 (28.1%) freshmen, 132 (22.9%) sophomore, 166 (28.8%) junior, and
102 (17.7%) senior preservice science teachers were included in the study.
Three instruments, apart from a demographical questionnaire, were utilized to collect
data from the preservice science teachers, which are namely Environmental Identity Scale
(EIS), Environmental Attitude Scale (EAS), and Proenvironmental Behaviour Scale (PBS). In
the demographical questionnaire, gender was coded as 0 (male) and 1 (female).
EIS was developed by
, and translated and adapted into Turkish by
Clayton and Kilinc (2013). Twenty-four items in this scale were related to the understanding
and identification of individuals toward the natural environment. Participants were to rate the
items by utilizing a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (completely wrong) to 7
(completely true). Based on the reliability analysis of the test, reliability coefficient was
found as .88, indicating a reliable scale.
EAS was formed by
Thompson and Barton?s (1994)
as Environmental Attitudes and
Apathy Scales, and translated and adapted into Turkish by U?ar and Oztekin (2013). The
scale items were rated to five-point Likert-type ranging 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly
disagree). In ecocentrism dimension of the scale, ten items assess participants? relationships
with the nature, feelings about and valuing to the nature and living things. Regarding to
anthropocentrism dimension, the focus of those thirteen items was to determine participants?
relationships with the natural environment was based on positive contribution to human life
quality and/or results concerning only humans. According to reliability results, both
dimensions were found .84 and.78, respectively, implying high reliability.
PBS is a fourteen-itemed instrument developed by
in order to measure
proenvironmental behaviours. Rating of the items was assigned as ?never? (1), ?rarely? (2),
?sometimes? (3), ?frequently? (4), and ?always? (5). The items in the scale are to evaluate the
respondents? actions related to conserving the environment, maintaining a sustainable life,
and communicating others to behave more responsible in environmental issues. The
instrument translated into Turkish by
Sahin and her colleagues (2012
). They reported that the
reliability of the scale was .86.
As regard to internal validity issues in correlational and survey studies, researchers
must ensure that participants should not become bored or tired
(Fraenkel & Wallen, 2006)
this study, although there were about sixty items that the participants were expected to state
their opinions, there was not any signs of fatigue or dropout from responding the items during
the data collection. Possible reason might be that participants were familiar with participating
in similar types of surveys. Therefore, no actual indicator of instrument decay threat to
internal validity was observed in the study. Moreover, since the study was conducted as cross
sectional one-time study, mortality and testing was not an issue threatening internal validity.
On the other hand, subject characteristics may usually remain as an issue because extraneous
factors or other characteristics may explain the relationship between variables
. To minimize this issue in this study, the relationships that are expected
between the variables were proposed in consistent with previous literature works. Lastly, any
remarkable location threat was not observed by researchers since the participants were from
public universities in the same geographical region and close cities, the environmental
conditions and infrastructure were quite similar. In addition, Cronbach alpha coefficients
were estimated for each scale and given in Table 1 to ensure the reliability.
Results and Discussion
Table 1 shows descriptive statistics of corresponding variables in the study. The mean
score (M=5.39) for Environmental Identity Scale was above the midpoint of the 7-point
Likert scale with a standard deviation .80, reflecting preservice science teachers? strong
environmental identity. That is, they were similar in terms of their connectedness with natural
environment. For example, they reported that they like gardens, they agree with the necessity
of learning about the natural world during the childhood. Similarly, their agreement on some
of environmental identity scale items such as significance of teaching environmental
education on early ages of life, and adoption of having sustainable lifestyle and
environmental actions as their moral codes might be resulted from their positive
environmental ideology and self-identification.
ideology and self-identification in terms of natural world in her environmental identity
model. That is, these agreements might have been affected due to the characteristics of
Turkish culture since Turkish people concerns toward environment as Sarigollu (2009)
Clayton and Kilinc (2013)
also supported this relatedness between cultural
structure and environmental identity in their study.
Unlike environmental identity, the participants developed favourable ecocentric
attitudes toward environment, as indicated by the mean scores 4.36 on the five-point scale.
That is, it seemed that they had strong conservative attitudes towards environment for sake of
all living things rather than the sole purpose of enhancing human welfare and life quality.
Their tendency to value the nature was resulted from appreciation to nature due to its own
sake were consisted with earlier research
(Onur, Sahin, & Tekkaya, 2011)
. On the other hand,
the mean score of 3.38 over 5 regarding to anthropocentric attitudes indicated that the
respondents slightly supported human dominance on the nature, and their concerns were
associated with human benefits. Contrary to desired results, which is lower anthropocentric
and higher ecocentric attitudes of participants, having both ecocentric and anthropocentric
attitudes implied that preservice science teachers did not have positive attitudes to live
harmoniously with the nature although they supported to conserve the nature.
According to results, the mean score of 3.53 showed that preservice science teachers
did not take all the necessary actions to protect the environment. To illustrate, they stated that
they usually turn the lights after leaving an empty room, that they sometimes choose walking
in short distance instead of riding in a car, and that they try to use less water during teeth
brushing. These responses of participants might reflect that they tended to make
proenvironmental behaviours in the short run. However, most of them did not support to
attend of any environmental protest or demonstration as similar to results of
). In addition, they stated that they do not urge others to make suitable behaviours for
conserving the environment although green actions are necessary to have a more sustainable
. Thus, underlying reason of possessing moderate
proenvironmental behaviours of preservice science teachers might be the low social
responsibility for conserving the environment.
Regarding to the second research question of the study, a proposed model (see Figure
1) was analysed through path analysis to examine the relationships among preservice science
teachers? proenvironmental behaviours, environmental identities, ecocentric and
anthropocentric attitudes, and gender. The proposed model revealed a good fit measures as
depicted in Table 2. Based on the results, GFI and CFI values were equal to 1.00, which is a
perfect fit. In addition, both RMSEA and SRMR values were lower than .05, implying a good
fit. Since the fit indices were adequate for the model explaining the data well
(Hu & Kline,
2005; Schreiber, Stage, King, Nora, & Barlow, 2006)
, the standardized path coefficients for
direct, indirect, and total effects were analysed.
After ensuring the adequate fit values of the model, all path coefficients in the
proposed model were examined. Non-significant paths, which are from gender to
environmental identity and from gender to proenvironmental behaviour, were removed from
the model. Afterwards, fit indices were checked again (see Table 2). The final model was
presented in Figure 2.
In the final model, 30% of the variance in participants? proenvironmental behaviours
were accounted for by environmental identity, ecocentric attitudes, and anthropocentric
attitudes. Thus, proenvironmental behaviours had a large effect size (R2=.30) since its value
is greater than .25
. Based on the results of the path analysis, environmental
identity (?=.46, p<.05), ecocentric attitudes (?=.10, p<.05), and anthropocentric attitudes
(?=.09, p<.05) showed positive associations with proenvironmental behaviours of PSTs. In
parallel with the previous research
(Clayton, 2003; Clayton & Kilinc, 2013; Stets & Biga,
2003; Tanik, 2012; Van der Werff, Steg, & Keizer, 2013)
, proenvironmental behaviours were
predicted significantly by environmental identity and ecocentric attitudes of preservice
science teachers. However, Casey and Scott (2006) found that attitudes that are more
anthropocentric are linked with lower ecological behaviours. Beside these direct effects,
indirect effects of ecocentric attitudes (?=.30) and gender (?=.04) were found. Therefore,
gender has significantly influenced proenvironmental behaviours indirectly through its effect
on environmental identity.
With respect to environmental identity, ecocentric attitudes (?=.63, p<.05) had strong
and positive significant relationship with the environmental identity. That is, respondents
who had more favourable attitudes toward the nature due to its intrinsic value also possessed
more connections with the nature. Furthermore, gender (?=.04, p<.05) was negatively linked
with environmental identity indirectly. Regarding to effect size, environmental identity
possessed large effect size (R2=.39), suggesting that predictors of environmental identity
explain 39% of the variance.
In terms of ecocentric attitudes, only gender (?=.12, p<.05) had positive direct effect
in the model. The effect size of the ecocentric values (R2=.01) can be considered as small
since it is lower than .09
. As consistent with previous research studies
(Calubaquib, 2016; Zelezny et al., 2000)
, female participants held greater intrinsic value to
the nature as compared to males.
Concerning anthropocentric attitudes, ecocentric attitudes (?=.15, p<.05) and gender
(?=-.09, p<.05) were found significantly related with it. Although relationship between
ecocentrism and anthropocentrism was reported in the literature as negative
, this study showed positive relationship. Effect size of the anthropocentric
attitudes explaining by its predictor variables was small (R2=.03).
Corresponding to gender, the results of this study are consistent with most of previous
research mentioned in the literature review. That is, female preservice science teachers had
stronger environmental identity, higher ecocentric attitudes, and lower anthropocentric
attitudes as compared to male preservice science teachers. In contrast with Zelezny and her
colleagues (2000), proenvironmental behaviours of male participants slightly higher than
female participants. Further research seeking for the reasons or barriers underlying this
situation is needed to clarify the insufficient proenvironmental behaviours of female
preservice science teachers? although they had high level of environmental attitudes and
identity. Lastly, female preservice teachers should be encouraged to develop actions that are
more favourable toward environment such as taking social responsibility for conserving the
environment, encouraging other people to stop harming the environment.
This study set out to achieve two purposes. The first one was to examine the level of
preservice science teachers? proenvironmental behaviours, environmental identity, ecocentric
and anthropocentric attitudes. The second one was to investigate relationship among these
variables including gender.
Regarding the first purpose, the results of the study indicated that preservice science
teachers did not take actions to protect the environment, and did not fully appreciate the
nature for its own intrinsic value but rather self-interest of human beings. According to the
results, preservice science teachers tended to consume natural resources on behalf of human
profits rather than caring other species. On the other hand, preservice science teachers? strong
environmental identity implied that they tend to make proper decisions and actions about
environment to protect and value it as compared to those having weaker environmental
identity. Related to behaviour, preservice science teachers were not so successful in acting
proenvironmental behaviours. To resolve these issues, environmental awareness and
responsibility of preservice teachers should be promoted. To illustrate, students and children
are generally perceived -or taught- that cleaning home is mother?s duty, and scavenging
streets is sanitation worker?s duty. In this manner, individuals mostly think cleaning, caring,
protecting environment is in the responsibility of someone else who are assigned to do so.
However, protecting the nature and acting environment-friendly behaviours should be
accomplished by individuals when they feel responsible to overcome these issues.
Accordingly, preservice teachers should be trained with objectives and activities that enable
them to look out for their environment, caring all species in their environment, and see the
nature as a part of their identity.
Concerning the second purpose of this study, path analysis results indicated that
environmental identity is an important contributor in predicting proenvironmental behaviours
and environmental attitudes. Therefore, environmental identity may be used a strong
predictor offering to those researchers who investigating psychometric factors influencing
environmental attitudes and behaviours. Thus, strengthening preservice science teachers?
environmental identity may help them to generate environmentally favourable behaviours.
For example, it may be helpful to increase preservice science teachers? closeness to the nature
by taking them to field trips in natural environments, encouraging them to join students?
clubs such as scout groups, bird watching. As spending time in the nature increases,
environmental identity, and therefore proenvironmental behaviours may also be increased.
Apart from environmental identity, ecocentric attitudes seem to have crucial role in shaping
proenvironmental behaviours as well as environmental identity. Consisted with earlier
research such as
Stets and Biga (2003)
, preservice science teachers? ecocentric attitudes
should be considered as strong motivators during constructing environmental education
courses and curricula. Contrary to positive relationship between ecocentrism and
proenvironmental behaviours, link between anthropocentric attitudes and proenvironmental
behaviours seem to remain inconclusive. Even though some studies reported that holding
anthropocentric attitudes by preservice science teachers may result in generating less
environmentally favourable actions
(Casey & Scott, 2006)
, the results of this study indicated
that there is positive relationship between anthropocentric attitudes and proenvironmental
behaviours. Nonetheless, it is necessary to teach the consequences and drawbacks of
anthropocentrism, helping to convert anthropocentric attitudes into more ecocentric
viewpoints until further research clarify this link better.
Preservice science teachers are future generations? role models in terms of many
aspects including raising environment-friendly students, preservice science teachers should
be well equipped to address environmental conditions, and coping with these problems. Since
these results implied an unfavourable impression about preservice science teachers
corresponding to the environment and environmental issues, efforts need to be made in order
to motivate preservice science teachers to develop proenvironmental attitudes and
behaviours. To accomplish these objectives, one of the possible steps to take is to exposure
them more environmentalist viewpoints, practices, and experiences. That is, it seems
necessary to revise teacher education curricula and course contents in accordance with
enhancing awareness and sensitiveness toward the nature. Therefore, it can be achieved to
develop more favourable attitudes and behaviours toward environment.
Further research seems necessary to explain the effects of identity-related
characteristics on environmental behaviours and attitudes. For instance, even though male
preservice science teachers who performed lower than females appears to require more
reinforcements to heal their proenvironmental behaviours and attitudes. Therefore, the
question of role of gender in shaping environmental attitudes and behaviours still seeks an
answer. Accordingly, investigating gender identities and other contextual factors such as
socioeconomic characteristics may shed light on relationship among behaviour, attitude,
gender, and identity toward environment. In addition, future studies should be conducted to
seek answers to barriers to engaging proenvironmental behaviours though having favourable
attitudes. Lastly, these findings reflected the condition of preservice science teachers from a
particular region of Turkey regarding to the environment. Thus, larger samples from different
context may draw conclusions that are more valid.
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