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Attitudes and behaviors of undergraduate students toward environmental issues 1
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   H. Müderrisoðlu; A. Altanlar    Int. J. Environ. Sci. Tech., 8 (1), 159-168, Winter 2011 ISSN: 1735-1472 ©   IRSEN, CEERS, IAU  *Corresponding Author Email: haldunm@duzce.edu.tr   Tel.: +90 536 964 4696; Fax: +90 380 542 1136 Received 19 February 2010; revised 26 September 2010; accepted 17 November 2010; available online 1 December 2010 Attitudes and behaviors of undergraduate students toward environmental issues 1 *   H. Müderriso  ğ  lu;  2  A. Altanlar    1 Faculty of Forestry, Departmant of Landscape Architecture, Duzce University, 81100 Beciyorukler Koyu,  Düzce, Turkey 2 Faculty of Architecture, University of Amasya, Turkey ABSTRACT: The studies carried out throughout the world have indicated that there are differences betweenenvironmental attitudes and environmentally responsible behaviors of undergraduate students. In what ways theenvironmental attitudes and behaviors of the students who will protect and manage the resources of the country in thefuture have changed is an important issue? This study was aimed at determining the environmental attitudes andenvironmentally responsible behaviors of the undergraduate students of Abant Ýzzet Baysal University towardenvironmental issues. In addition, the effects of the faculty in which the students are enrolled, locality and gender on thedetermined environmental attitudes and environmentally responsible behaviors of the students were investigated. Thedata were gathered from 507 students in 2005. To explain the environmental attitudes and environmentally responsible behaviors of undergraduate students toward environmental issues, factor analysis was used with Varimax Rotationmethod. To determine the changes of the environmental attitudes and environmentally responsible behaviors of thestudents with regard to the faculty, locality and gender, one-way analysis of variance was used. According to theresults, students highly support the environmental attitudes and highly participate only in consumerism behaviors.Finally, it was determined if faculty and gender had an effect on the environmental attitudes and behaviors of thestudents. Key words:  Ecological Paradigm Scale; Environmental Responsibility; Gender; University INTRODUCTION The increasing environmental activities toward theend of the 1960s reached the peak with “Earth Day” in1970 (Thapa, 1999). Since then, there have been changesin the behaviors and attitudes of people towardenvironmental issues. However, while a majority of  people have adopted environmental attitudes,environmentally responsible behaviors have not beenreflected in life in the same level (Tarant and Cordel, 1977;  Nouri et al., 2008; Chen, 2010; Chen et al., 2010).In the 1980s, a different viewpoint was brought up byscientists. According to this new viewpoint, how theenvironmental problems are perceived by society andhow the society reacts to these problems have becomeimportant (Huang and Shih; 2009). In those years, themost commonly used scale to measure theenvironmental awareness was New EnvironmentalParadigm (NEP) scale which was brought up by Dunlapand Van Lierre (1978). NEP scale has been widely usedin literature in the last two decades. This scale has been used among the general society and the farmers(Albercht et al.,  1982), ethnic groups (Caron, 1989) and students (Bechtel et al.,  1999; Shobeiri et al.,  2006).Students have always played an active role in theactivities leading to the development of environmentalawareness. Therefore, several studies have been carriedout to understand the environmental attitudes and behaviors of the students. In addition, the facts thatthe students will be the ones who will manage andconsume the future resources have been effective indoing studies related to the students. It is possible toinfer two different results from these studies. First,although the environmental attitudes of the studentsare very developed, their behaviors are affected by theeconomic concerns (Thompson and Gasteiger, 1985; Gigliotti, 1992; Imandoust and Gadam 2007; Chien andShih, 2007).   H. Müderrisoðlu; A. Altanlar  160 Second, developed environmental awareness of thestudents reflect their behaviors in the same level(Shetzer et al.,  1991).The studies aiming to determine the criteria causingthese different environmental attitudes and behaviorsare gathered in two main parts, namely, those examiningsocio-demographic factors and those examining the belief, psychological structures of societies (Dietz et al.,  1998). The studies examining the effects of socio-demographic characteristics on environmental attitudesand behaviors investigated age (Mohai and Twight, 1987), gender (Mohai, 1992; Sasidharan and Thapa, 1999; Shobeiri et al.,  2007), ethnicity (Caro and Ewert, 1995), locality (Sasidharan and Thapa, 1999), education (Thapa, 1999). Jones and Dunlap (1992), Steel (1996) examined the effects of psychology on environmentalattitudes and behaviors while Stern et al.  (1995), Dunlap et al.  (2000) examined the effects of the beliefs andvalues of the society on environmental attitudes and behaviors. The studies carried out in the past indicatedthat environmental attitude and awareness changeddepending on gender. In most of the studies, it wasdetermined that the attitudes and behaviors of thewomen toward environmental protection were moredeveloped than men (Davidson and Freudberg, 1996;Burger et al.,  1998). However, Arcury et al.  (1987) statedin their studies that information and concerns aboutenvironmental problems were more developed amongmen than women. Cary (1993) stated that attitudes and  behaviors concerning the problem changed dependingon the distance of the residents from environmental problems. In addition, Robertson and Burdge (1998)stated that the people living in the urban areas aremore concerned with environmental issues than thoseliving in the rural areas.Tehrani et al.  2009 and 2010;Thapa (1999) observed some changes in theenvironmental attitudes and behaviors of the studentsdue to their education. He found out that the studentswho had education on environment were more awareof environmental attitudes than the other students.In Turkey, studies about environmental awarenesshave started in the 2000s. University students weremostly the subject of these studies. Talay et al.  (2003)who studied the environmental awareness of studentsin Ankara University found that the department thestudents attend in school has been effective on their environmental awareness. Budak et al.  (2005), did asimilar study where students at the Faculty of Agriculture served as the sample group. The effects of students’ characteristics on their environmentalawareness were examined. It was found that studentsfrom rural areas, girls, and younger students have moresophisticated environmental awareness than those fromurban areas, boys and older ones, respectively. Vaizoglu et al.  (2005) proved that students with medicine degreedo not have enough environmental awareness. Theenvironmental awareness studies done in Turkey arevery limited and there is no study about environmental behaviors. The studies carried out in other parts of the worldindicated that there are differences between theenvironmental attitudes and environmentallyresponsible behaviors of undergraduate students. Theaim of this study is to determine how some of the socio-demographic characteristics affect environmentalattitudes and behaviors of undergraduate students.Thus, the differences between the environmentalattitudes and behaviors of the students will beexplained. This study aims to find the answers to thesethree questions: • Are there any differences between the environmentalattitudes and behaviors of undergraduate studentsstudying in different faculties? • Is there a difference in environmental attitudes and behaviors to gender? • Is there a difference in environmental attitudes and behaviors to locality?The data for this study were collected in 2005 from theundergraduate students in the cities of Bolu and Duzcein the Western Black Sea Region of Turkey. MATERIALS AND METHODS Study Area According to the data taken from the census donein 2000, approximately 50 % of the Turkish populationsare younger than 24 years old. There is a centralstudent selection exam in Turkey for the university.Therefore, students in the universities come fromdifferent cities and social groups. As a result of thesediverse data expected from the universities and withreference to this expectation, the study area wasselected. This study was carried out in Abant ÝzzetBaysal University, Konuralp Campus in Düzce andGölköy in Bolu. In these two campuses, there are twoSchools (School of Physical Education and Sports,School of Nursing), and six faculties (Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Technical Education, Faculty of    H. Müderrisoðlu; A. Altanlar  161  Int. J. E    nviron. Sci. Tech., 8 (1), 159-168, Winter 2011 Table 1: Profile of participant Characteristics Domains Code Ratio (%) Male 1 48 Gender Female 2 52 Rural area with fewer than 10.000 people 1 10 Town with 10.000-49.000 people 2 32 Locality City with 50.000 + people 3 58 Forestry 1 6 Arts and Science 2 14 Education 3 44 Economics and Administrative Sciences 4 19 Technical Education 5 5 Medicine 6 5 School of Physical Education and Sports 7 3 Faculty/ College School of Nursing 8 4 Forestry, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Arts andScience, Faculty of Economics). The total number of students was 13150. Sample size Sample size was calculated over 8350 people in thethird and fourth class although there were 13150 studentsin the study area. The reason for this is that thevocational classes become harder after the second class.In the table of sample size, the level of reliability for theminimum number of people was taken as 95 % (1996),and the accepted sampling error level was taken as 99 %(0,1) (Orhunbilge, 1997). According to this reliabilitytable, 507 questionnaires were made using the face to Table 2: Frequency distributions (%) for faculty/college students’ environmental attitudes Questionnaire statement* SA MA U MD SD # of cases 1If things continue on their present course will soon experience a major ecological catastrophe 58 33 6 2 1 503 2The earth is like a spaceship with very limited room and resources 37 36 16 9 2 488 3Humans are severely abusing the environment 54 38 4 3 1 501 4The balance of nature is very delicate and easily upset 40 39 10 9 2 489 5We are approaching the limit of the number of people that the earth can support 22 35 31 9 3 494 6When humans interfere with nature, if often produces disastrous consequences 36 37 17 8 2 500 7The balance of nature is strong enough to cope with the impacts of modern industrial nations 6 14 25 39 16 494 8The earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them 41 40 11 5 3 490 9Human ingenuity will insure that we do not make the earth unlivable 18 26 29 19 8 497 10Humans will eventually learn enough about how nature works to be able to control it 16 32 31 15 6 496 11The so-called ecological crisis facing humankind has been greatly exaggerated 4 12 29 41 14 485 12Humans have the right to modify the natural environment to suit their needs 6 12 14 33 35 494 13Plants and animals have as much right as humans to exist 71 20 4 2 3 499 14Humans were meant to rule over the rest of nature 14 31 27 21 7 494 15Despite our special abilities humans are still subject to the laws of nature 33 41 17 6 3 500 face method and all the questionnaires were used in thisstudy.  Determining environmental attitudes The New Ecological Paradigm Scale (NEP) developedwas used in determining the environmental attitudes.The scale consisted of 15 items grouped in 5 mainecological attitudes in 5-point Likert type format, whichranged from 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree).The concepts of 5 main titles are as follows (Table 2):a.reality of limits to growth (3 items) b.anti-anthropocentrism (3 items)c.fragility of nature’s balance (3 items)d.rejection of exemptionalism (3 items) * Ceded on a 5 pt. Likert type scale where: SA (1)= Strongly agree, MA (2)= Moderately agree, U (3)= Undecided, MD (4)= Moderately disagree,SD (5)=Strongly disagree   H. Müderrisoðlu; A. Altanlar  162    Environmental attitudes and behaviors Table 3: Factor loading for university student’s environmental attitudes Questionnaire statement* Ecocentric Attitude   Technocentric Attitude   Dualcentric Attitude   If things continue on their present course will soon experience a major ecological catastrophe 0,50 - - The earth is like a spaceship with very limited room and resources 0,55 - - Humans are severely abusing the environment 0,61 - - The balance of nature is very delicate and easily upset 0,74 - - We are approaching the limit of the number of people that the earth can support 0,72 - - When humans interfere with nature, if often produces disastrous consequences 0,61 - - Human ingenuity will insure that we do not make the earth unlivable 0,60 - - The balance of nature is strong enough to cope with the impacts of modern industrial nations - 0,63 - The so-called ecological crisis facing humankind has been greatly exaggerated - 0,64 - Humans have the right to modify the natural environment to suit their needs - 0,66 - Humans were meant to rule over the rest of nature - 0,57 - The earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them - - 0,71 Humans will eventually learn enough about how nature works to be able to control it - - 0,40 Plants and animals have as much right as humans to exist - - 0,61 Despite our special abilities humans are still subject to the laws of nature - - 0,63 Mean 2,02 3,37 2,00 % Variance 19 13 12 Alpha value 0,74 0,55 0,50 * Ceded on a 5 pt. Likert type scale where: SA (1)= Strongly agree, MA (2)= Moderately agree, U (3)= Undecided, MD (4)= Moderately disagree,SD (5)=Strongly disagree Table 4: Frequency distributions (%) for faculty/college students’ environmentally responsible behaviors Questionnaire statement* U F S O R # of cases  HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU………. 1. Used biodegradable, no phosphate soaps ore detergents 24 26 29 15 6 491 2. Read labels on products to see if the contents were environmental safe 11 23 40 19 7 504 3. Avoided buying products in aerosol containers 12 26 34 20 8 499 4. Purchased a product because it was packaged in reusable or recyclable containers 5 18 30 26 21 499 5. Switched from one brand to another due to concern for the environment 10 17 33 26 14 499 6. Stopped buying from a company which showed a disregard for the environment 27 26 24 15 8 495 7. Avoided restaurants that put take-out food in Styrofoam containers 15 28 25 17 15 500 8. Bought products made from recycled material 5 22 41 23 6 493 9. Cut down on the use of your car by using public transportation, car pooling, etc 46 18 10 10 16 482 10. Written to your elected officials expressing your opinions on environmental  problems 1 5 16 26 52 499 11. Investigated your elected officials’ voting record on environmental issues 6 13 28 31 22 487 12. Used legal measures to stop events you though would damage the environment 3 11 24 29 33 499 13. Reported environmental crimes to the proper authorities 7 12 27 30 24 496 14. Voted for a politician due to his/her record on protection the environment 8 11 20 13 48 490 15. Donated money or paid membership dues to a conservation organization 3 5 16 24 52 488 16. Joined in community cleanup efforts 3 8 26 31 32 493 17. Watched TV programs about environmental problems 11 28 36 20 5 502 18. Talked to others about environmental issues 8 28 39 22 3 502 19. Read publication that focus on environmental issues 7 25 41 22 5 501 20. Tried to learn what you can do to help solve environmental issues 2 11 31 36 20 497 21. Enrolled in a course for the sole purpose of learning more about environmental issues 2 7 21 31 39 499 22. Recycled glass bottles or jars or aluminum cans 10 17 30 22 21 500 23. Recycled old newspaper 16 22 23 22 17 502 24. Sorted your trash to separate non-recyclable from recyclable material 9 14 22 21 34 504 * Ceded on a 5 pt. Likert type scale where: U (1)=Usually, F (2)= Frequently, S (3)= Sometimes, O (4)= Occasionally, R (5)= Rarely   H. Müderrisoðlu; A. Altanlar  163  Int. J. E    nviron. Sci. Tech., 8 (1), 159-168, Winter 2011 e.possibility of eco-crisis or ecological catastrophe(3 items) (Sasidharan and Thapa, 1999).  Determination of participants’ characteristics The students were asked their gender (male, female),residence (rural area with fewer than 10.000 people,town with 10.000-49.000 people, city with 50.000 + people) and their faculties and schools (Faculty of Forestry,   Faculty of Arts and Science,   Faculty of Education,   Faculty of Economics and AdministrativeSciences,   Faculty of Technical Education, Faculty of Medicine, School of Physical Education and Sports,School of Nursing) in order to determine thecharacteristics of the participants in the study. Theresponses obtained were tabulated in Table 1. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Profile of participants Of the 507 students participating in the study carriedout in A.I.B.U Konuralp Campus in Düzce and Gölköyin Bolu , 48 % were male and 52 % female; 10 % live inrural areas, 32 % in towns, 58 % in the cities; 44 %attend the Faculty of Education, 19 % the Faculty of Economics and Administrative sciences, 14 % theFaculty of Arts and Science, 6 % the Faculty of Forestry,5 % the Faculty of Technical Education, 5 % the Facultyof Medicine, 4 % the School of Nursing, and 3 % theSchool of Physical Education and Sports. Largemajority of respondents are single. These faculties andschools were coded according to their course densitieson environment. The students taking the most number of courses on environment were the students of theFaculty of Forestry.  Environmental attitudes  The 15 items within the scale were initially subjectedto basic frequency summary analysis. As shown inTable 2, participants support the environmentalattitudes. However, this support is not high for eachitem. Environmental attitudes supported in the rangeof 81-92 % are as follows: humans are severely abusingthe environment, plants and animals have as muchright as humans to exist, if things continue their presentcourse we will soon experience a major ecologicalcatastrophe, and we need to learn how to developnatural sources on earth. Environmental attitudes inthe range of 73-79 % are as follows: the balance of nature is easily upset, humans were meant to rule over the rest of the nature, humans are subjected to thelaws of nature and when humans interfere with nature,it often produces disastrous consequences.Environmental attitudes supported in the range of 44-57 % are as follows: human ingenuity will insure thatwe do not make the earth unlivable, humans were meantto rule over nature and they will eventually learn enoughabout how nature works to be able to control, the earthis like a spaceship with very limited room and resources.There are also environmental attitudes that are notsupported in the range of 45-68 %; these are humanshave the right to modify the natural environment tosuit their needs, the balance of nature is strong enoughto cope with the impacts of modern industrial solutionsand the so-called ecological crisis facing humankindhas been greatly exaggerated. In order to explain theenvironmental attitudes of the students that participated in the study, factor analysis was used withVarimax Rotation method. As seen in Table 3, threefactors are found that explained the environmentalattitudes with a variance of 44 %. In naming thesefactors, Thapa (1999) is used. 1. Factor is explained with a variance of 19 % and Cronbach’s alpha is 0,74.The alpha value computed indicates that this factor isquite reliable (Özdamar, 1999). 1. Factor is named asecocentric as the items within this factor generallysubstantiate the claim that the environment is in a precarious position, and the impact of humans can bedetrimental to the survival of humankind. 2. Factor isexplained with a variance of 13 % and Cronbach’s alphais 0,55. The computed alpha value indicates that factor has a low reliability. 2. Factor is named as technocentric.The items included in this factor show that technologycan be used in the environmental solutions and copingwith the problems. 3. Factor is explained with a varianceof 12 % and Cronbach’s alpha is 0,50. The computedalpha value indicates that the factor has a low reliability.3. Factor is named as dualcentric. The items includedin this factor state that there is a symbiotic relationship between humans and the other living things. Of thesethree factors determined, the most supported ones aredualcentric attitudes. It is followed by ecocentricattitudes. Technocentric attitudes are not supported by the students who participated in the questionnaire.  Environmentally responsible behaviors Frequency distributions for the 24 items of the ERBIwere also examined and the results are illustrated inTable 4. The students answering the questionnairehighly participated in the environmentally responsible
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