An Assessment of Environmental Literacy and Investigation of the Predictors of Environmentally Responsible Behavior Among Secondary-School Students
Althubyani, Adel Rezq Allah
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The purposes of this study were to: (a) determine the level of environmental literacy (EL) of secondary school students in Saudi Arabia with regard to selected factors in the domains of environmental knowledge, affective dispositions, cognitive skills, and environmentally responsible behavior; (b) explore the relationship of EL components among each other; and (c) identify some selected factors that may predict the environmental responsible behavior. The researcher selected the targeted variables (i.e., environmental knowledge, cognitive skills, environmental sensitivity, willingness to act, and environmentally responsible behavior) based on the definitions and frameworks of environmental literacy, prior research and, the results of the three preliminary studies conducted. Those preliminary studies were: a content analysis of (a) research studies in environmental education in Saudi Arabia, and (b) middle and secondary science textbooks in Saudi Arabia; and (c) a phenomenological study of environmental sensitivity and environmentally responsible behavior (ERB) among secondary students in Saudi Arabia. Results of these preliminary studies were used to develop a conceptual framework and construct an instrument, the Secondary School Environmental Literacy Measure (SSELM). The SSELM that was reviewed for face and content validity, piloted to review its construct validity and reliability, and then administered to (n=600) secondary school students in the City of Taif in Saudi Arabia. Due to invalid responses and outliers, the responses were reduced to (n=482). Research question one focused on descriptive statistics to characterize the status of EL of secondary school students. Research question two focused on bivariate correlation to understand the relationship among EL variables, and research question three on the relationship between ERB and selected demographic and educational variables. Research question four involved the use of hierarchical multiple regression to identify the major variables that serve as predictors of ERB. The results for research question one indicated that participants adjusted mean scores (0-70) on the five selected variables of EL were: willingness to act (M=46.58), how skilled you think you are [perceived cognitive skills] (M=45.5), environmental sensitivity (M=40.85), ERB (M=40.58), and environmental knowledge (M=37). The results for research question two indicated there were three patterns to these relationships: relatively strong (e.g., both environmental sensitivity and willingness to act with ERB); moderate (e.g., positive: environmental sensitivity and willingness to act; negative: environmental knowledge to environmental sensitivity and ERB); and relatively weak (e.g., environmental knowledge to perceived cognitive skills and willingness to act). The results of research question three showed that male students had slightly higher scores than female students on the ERB scale. In terms of the relationship between ERB and age, there was a slightly negative, but not statistically significant, correlation. The results of the correlation between ERB and grade level indicated that students in the 10th grade level performed relatively higher (M =42) than students in the 12th grade level (M=38.7). The results of research question four pointed out that environmental sensitivity served as the strongest predictor of ERB, followed by willingness to act, and then environmental knowledge. Its noteworthy that the influence of perceived cognitive skills on ERB was not statistically significant. Based on these results, four of the study’s five null hypotheses were rejected. The generalizability and implications of these findings were discussed. Finally, recommendations for further research were offered in light of study delimitations, limitations, and findings.