Can Science Education Help to Reduce Global Warming?: An International Study of the Links between Students' Beliefs and their Willingness to Act

Rodríguez, Manuel; Stanisstreet, Martin; Malandrakis, Georgios; Kilinc, Ahmet; Taylor, Neil; Chhokar, Kiran; Ambusaidi, Abdullah; Cheong, I. Poh-Ai; Mijung Kim
August 2011
International Journal of Science in Society;2011, Vol. 2 Issue 3, p89
Academic Journal
In this period of environmental degradation it is essential to assist people to change their attitudes, motives, skills and behaviors towards more sustainable ones. Education is one of the tools that might be expected to contribute towards achieving that goal. Unfortunately, however, few educational programs have had substantial impacts on people's actions for environment involvement (Jakobsson, Mäkitalo, and Säljö, 2009). One of the factors that underlie the 'gap' between knowledge and action (Kollmus and Ageyman, 2002) seems to be the disparity between general pro-environmental attitudes and values, and the specific motives and intentions needed to undertake the actions. So, in our research program we have examined links between beliefs about the usefulness of specific actions and the willingness to undertake those concrete actions. Questionnaires were completed by 12,627 school students in 11 countries, including Spain. Here we concentrate on students' views about modifying their methods of personal transport to reduce global warming. The relationships between students' Believed Usefulness of Action and their Degree of Willingness to Act were quantified by constructing indices to measure the extent to which enhancing a person's belief in the effectiveness of an action might increase their willingness to undertake it. Comparison of the values of this index for different actions and across different countries identifies those actions for which education is likely to produce behavior change.


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