Assosiation between civic knowledge and environmental sustainability (Secondary analysis of IEA’s ICCS)


 Presenter (s) Špela Javornik, Educational Research Institute

“In a new, stormier world, where extreme weather events, droughts, climate change, heat waves, flooding, poor air quality, biodiversity loss and humanitarian crises threatens human well-being and global peace, resilience — the ability to adapt to disruption and “bounce back” — is everything” (De Paula, 2018, p.1). Important measures to achieve the goals of sustainable development include environmental awareness and awareness-raising of our responsibility, which is also a condition for changing values, behaviors and lifestyles (Špes, 2008, p.52). Sustainable Development (especially climate change) is a concern, which is increasingly exposed in political, social and economic debates through countries all over the world. (Dringer, 2013; Edenhofer et al., 2014 in Schulz et al., 2016, p.4).

“In many societies, awareness of the environment and its long-term protection are now widely regarded as integral to responsible citizenship and therefore has implications for the development of civic and citizenship curricula” (Lotz-Sisitka, Fien, and Ketlhoilwe, 2013 in Schulz, 2016, p.4). In civic and citizenship education, “countries have increasingly concluded that responsible citizenship includes regard for the environment and its long-term protection, requisite for future sustainable development” (Dobson, 2003; Dobson & Bell, 2006; Ferreira, 2013; Hayward, 2006 in Schulz, 2016, p.4). In addition, there are many educational systems that expose “protection of the environment or education for environmental sustainability” as important issue in their citizenship curricula (Ainley et al., 2013; Eurydice, 2012; Schulz et al., 2010 in Schulz, 2016, p.5).

The data used in this paper comes from the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS)from its 2016 cycle. The ICCS 2016 “investigated the ways in which young people are prepared to undertake their current and future roles as citizens.” It was conducted in 24 educational systems, analyzing lower secondary students’ civic knowledge, as well students’ home background and school characteristics. The results of this study can be compared among and between those participated educational systems. The data are gathered “from more than 94,000 students enrolled in their eight year of schooling (Grade 8 or equivalent) at about 3800 schools in 24 countries”.” (Schulz, Ainley, Fraillon, Agrusti and Friedman, 2016, p.2).

In ICCS 2016, new focus areas have been identified and one of them is “the growing concern about global threats as well as sustainable development” (Schulz et al, 2016, p.2). This paper will perform secondary analyses using ICCS 2016 database and it will test the association between students’ civic knowledge and ecological awareness of students’. The sample is representative for eight grade students from participating educational systems. The paper will focus on the following research questions:

RQ1: How do eight grade students perceive pollution and climate change as threat to the world depending on their civic knowledge?

RQ2: How are students with more and less civic knowledge involved in environmental protection activities?

RQ3: How is student anticipated future environmental actions associated with civic knowledge?

From the above research question, the following hypotheses have been derived:

H1: Students with higher civic knowledge tend to think that pollution and environmental change are more serious threats for the world compared to students with lower civic knowledge.

H2: Students with higher level of civic knowledge have been more involved in environmental protection activities than those with lower civic knowledge achievement.

H3: Students with higher level of civic knowledge are more likely to anticipate taking actions to help environment as adults than students with lower level of civic knowledge.

This study will use descriptive statistics by category for each participating educational system. In addition, it will use regression analysis to test the association between civic knowledge and environmental sustainability.

The study will use data from the student questionnaire, taking the variables from four questions covering environmental sustainability:

Q1: Have you ever been involved in activities of any of the following organizations, clubs or groups? (Please tick only one box in each row.)

IS3G15B: An environmental action group or organization

Response options: “Yes, I have done this within the last twelve months”, “Yes, I have done this but more than a year ago”, “No, I have never done this”.

Q2: “At school, have you ever done any of the following activities? Please think about all schools you have been enrolled at since the first year . (Please tick only one box in each row.)”

IS3G16F: “Participating in an activity to make the school more (e.g. through watersaving or recycling)”.

Response options: “Yes, I have done this within the last twelve months”, “Yes, I have done this but more than a year ago”, “No, I have never done this”.

Q3: To what extent do you think the following issues are a threat to the world’s future? (Please tick only one box in each row.)

IS3G28A: Pollution
IS3G28I: Climate change

Response options: “To a large extent”, “To a moderate extent”, “To a small extent”, “Not at all”.

Q4: Listed below are different ways adults can take an active part in society. When you are an adult, what do you think you will do? (Please tick only one box in each row.)

IS3G31J: Make personal efforts to help the environment (e.g. through saving water)

Response options: “I would certainly do this”, “I would probably do this”, “I would probably not do this”, “I would certainly not do this”.

The expected outcome from this study is to find association between higher level of civic knowledge and efforts to protect the environment and that these findings will support the hypotheses.

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