How students perceive their attitudes towards the environment

Udan Kusmawan

Abstract


KEYWORDS: Student attitudes, the environment, science classroom

Background
This paper discusses results of the research investigating student ecological affinity. The ‘Ecological Affinity’ was defined as the ‘perceived distance’ between students’ demand on the environment to fulfil their desired lifestyles and the existence of the natural environment. The term ‘perceived distance’ referred to personal position on a negative-positive attitudinal continuum with regard to environmental sustainability. This study believed that ecological affinity dealt with people’s right to draw a better quality of life from their interactions with the environment, and their responsibility to guarantee other people’s rights in their efforts to gain the best sustainable quality of life.

Aim
This study aimed at examining students’ perceptions concerning their environmental attitudes over science classroom and in different locations.

Design and Methods
It was recognized that the advancement of science had various impacts on human lifestyles and the environment. To measure its impacts on human attitudes, this study applied environmental attitudinal scale instrument containing three sub-scales. The first sub-scale concerned with students valuing the advancement of science and technology. Two other sub-scales dealt with students’ recognition of the limits of growth and their views of people’s dominating Nature. This study placed these sub-scales together into the Ecological Affinity Likert Scale.

This study worked on descriptive quantitative data based on the instrument surveys. The surveys were administered in two phases; before and after science classrooms. Each phase of the survey was conducted in rural and urban cities. This study assumed that student responses were the function of their perceptions on the impact of economic development and technological advancement into the environment and their understanding of its representing issues learned in their classroom. Descriptive analyses were carried out to measure central tendencies, variability, and relationships between groups of respondents. As for 5-scale responses of Likert scale, this study restructured the scale into three continuing levels; ‘negative’ (scale=1), ‘moderate (2)’ and positive (3) positions.

Results
This study demonstrated that student attitudes were generally around moderate position (M=2.26, SD=0.32). Having science classroom, their attitudes moved into a more positive position (M=2.37, SD=0.21). A paired-sample T-test showed different perceptions between rural and urban students. Urban students’ perception changed significantly into a more moderate position after science classroom (M=[1.93 - 2.19], N=61, df=60, t=-16.840, p=0.000). A different situation existed to Rural students where no significant differences over science classroom (M=[2.48 - 2.49], N=86, df=85, t=-0.610, p=0.543). A similar contradictory situation appeared in all sub-scales between rural and urban students’ attitudes. An exceptional situation, however, appeared in rural students’ perception on People Dominating Nature where science classroom changes their perception into a more positive position (M=[2.27 - 2.48], N=86, df=85, t=-7.294, p=0.000).

Conclusion
It was evident that science classroom has effected differently to rural and urban students. Urban students were likely to perceive their attitudes as a more positive after learning environmental issues in their science classroom. The positive perceptions of rural students might point out that these persons have accepted the right to draw a better quality of life from their interactions with the environment, as well as permitted other people’s rights to achieve their best sustainable quality of life.

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