Research Summary

Preservice science teachers’ ecological value orientation: A comparative study between Indonesia and Korea

How environmental values vary between Korean and Indonesian pre-service science teachers

The Journal of Environmental Education
2020

Environmental education (EE) aims to increase environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among individuals. While EE can increase one’s environmental literacy, research has shown that environmental literacy does not always indicate an individual's environmental values. Studies have shown that values significantly influence a person’s behaviors. To impact someone’s environmental values, EE programs must consider the various cultural, political, and economical demographics of the communities where they implement programming. The purpose of this study was to determine if environmental values vary between Korean and Indonesian pre-service science teachers (PSTs).

Korea and Indonesia have both faced extreme environmental issues, such as air and water pollution, forest fires, and degraded natural habitat. Korea, which is considered a developed country, has implemented strict environmental policies and developed an extensive environmental education program, while Indonesia, a developing country, is in the beginning of its environmental movement. Both countries’ governments understand the importance of protecting the environment, but there is limited understanding of citizens’ overall environmental values. The culture, economy, and religious beliefs vary immensely between the two countries, which could influence how citizens value the environment. For this study, the researchers sought to determine if the PSTs were egotistic (cares for one-self), altruistic (cares for all human beings), or biospheric (cares for all living beings), when it came to environmental values. Prior research has shown that typically, those who are more environmentally literate will have more biospheric values.

The researchers selected 273 PSTs who were studying to become secondary school science teachers (grades 7-12). The researchers selected 149 Indonesian PSTs, between the ages of 18-25 years, (22% male, 77% female) who attended a public university focused on education studies. The researchers selected 124 Korean PSTs, between the ages of 19-28 years, (49% male, 51% female) from two public universities. The researchers focused on PSTs because they are essential personnel for both countries’ EE programs. All participants were given the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) to complete which consisted of 15 items, translated into their native language, on a Likert scale designed to determine participants’ ecological values. The researchers used a three-dimension NEP model, dividing the NEP statements into egotistic, altruistic, and biospheric value dimensions. The researchers analyzed the NEP data for common themes.

Overall, the researchers found that there was no significant difference between Indonesian and Korean PSTs altruistic and biospheric values. The researchers speculated the similarities in altruistic values could have been because participants came from one discipline (science). Similarities in biospheric values could be explained by similar cultural values; both cultures value a balance between caring for the environment and human needs, and value group harmony and interdependence. However, the researchers found that Indonesian PSTs had significantly higher egotistic values, compared to Korean PSTs. The researchers noted the difference between the two country’s economies. Indonesian PSTs may more strongly consider how natural resources can personally provide them economic benefits. Further, the researchers found that having greater science literacy did not impact individuals’ biospheric values in either country.

Korean PSTs had no conflicts between the three values, while Indonesian PSTs showed conflicting egotistic and altruistic values. The researchers thought Indonesian religious beliefs could have played a major role in these conflicting values. The primary religion in Indonesia is Islam. Islamic beliefs emphasize equality among all living things and to only take what is necessary from the environment, while the Indonesian economy relies heavily on utilizing the environment for economic gain. This conflict between religious beliefs and economic needs is apparent in the PSTs egotistic and altruistic values towards the environment.

This study had limitations. The researchers noted the vast difference among gender in the Indonesian PST sample versus the Korean PST sample, which could have impacted the results. In addition, the study only included PSTs as participants, limiting its generalizability to other educators across Korea and Indonesia. Further, the generalization of results to other countries is limited, and future, broader studies with different cultural, economic, and political beliefs could have varying results.

The researchers recommend higher education EE programs consider the current environmental values of their students. This would allow programs to make necessary adjustments to curriculum to address conflicting values. Additionally, higher education EE programs must consider the current state of their country. For example, individuals in developing countries may have more egotistic values, because they are willing to sacrifice the environment in to have the means necessary to survive. To balance egotistic values among individuals, higher education EE programming can create curriculum that shifts the thinking from ‘how the environment can help me?’ to ‘how can I help the environment’? Lastly, higher education EE programs should consider adopting curriculum that promotes altruistic values, which may provide an easier transition from egotistic values to altruistic, and eventually biospheric values.

The Bottom Line

The purpose of this study was to determine if environmental values vary between Korean and Indonesian pre-service science teachers (PSTs). The researchers sought to determine if the PSTs were egotistic (cares for one-self), altruistic (cares for all human beings), or biospheric (cares for all living beings), when it came to environmental values. Pre-service science teachers (273 participants) from Korean and Indonesian universities were recruited to participate. The researchers found there was no significant difference between Indonesian and Korean PSTs’ altruistic and biospheric values, though Indonesian PSTs had significantly higher egotistic values. Additionally, the researchers found that a greater science literacy did not impact individuals’ biospheric values. The researchers recommend that higher education EE programs develop or adjust curriculum to promote altruistic and biospheric environmental values.