A study of environmental attitude, behaviour and knowledge of HKIEd teacher trainees

Chung Wai Kevin LUI, Po Keung Eric TSANG, Sing Lai CHAN

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


There has been wide recognition of the need for teacher education in environmental education (e.g. UNESCO, 1980). Recently, UNESCO has even referred to teacher education as "the priority of priorities" in environmental education (UNESCO-UNEP, 1990). This is argued on the basis that "the key to successful environmental education is the classroom teacher. If teachers do not have the knowledge, skills and commitment to environmentalize their curriculum, it is unlikely that environmentally literate students will be produced." (Wilke, 1985). In support of this, Tilbury (1992) and Fien (1993) argued that environmental education within pre-service teacher education, which aimed at improving environmental educational competencies of teachers, was critical. The present study is unique in being the first conducted with the HKIEd teacher trainees (pre-service and in-service) to gather and analyze relevant data related to environmental education. In this regard, this study aims to scrutinize (i) the environmental worldviews, (ii) the environmental dispositions, (iii) the perception on the urgency of major local and global issues, (iv) perception towards various environmental protection issues, (v) various aspects of green behavior, (vi) environmental knowledge and (vii) the related academic, gender and age background, of the teacher trainees of the Hong Kong Institute of Education. The research method adopted is basically quantitative, in which a set of questionnaire is served as the measuring instrument to access the teacher trainees' environmental attitudes, environmental behavior and environmental knowledge. The major assessment tools adopted in this research include the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) scale (developed by Dunlap and VanLiere (1978)), the Environmental Response Inventory (ERI) scale (developed by George McKechnie(1974)) and the Urgency Index (UI) etc. After piloting, the finalized questionnaire was administered to the teacher trainees of the HKIEd in April to June 1999. As a result, a total of 435 questionnaires was collected and processed statistically, with the aid of SPSS. Major findings include: (a) The teacher trainees received a modest score in their environmental awareness and environmental disposition assessment. They did show concern on the issue of balancing the nature, (b) When teacher trainees are asked to evaluate the perceived urgency of local environmental problems, they ranked urban air pollution as the most serious environmental problem. In addition, they considered global environmental issues as more urgent than the local ones, (c) They tend to show positive attitude towards environmental protection, yet their behavior and habit were not entirely consistent to the stated attitudes, (d) Most of the teacher trainees relied on mass media to obtain their environmental information, (e) When testing the teacher trainees' knowledge on environmental concepts, results revealed that their understanding are generally considered as deficient. All these findings would provide useful information for curriculum development purposes such as developing relevant and at appropriate levels teaching content, strategies and methods for new and existing environmentally-related modules.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1999


Lui, C. W. K., Tsang, P. K. E., & Chan, S. L. (1999, November). A study of environmental attitude, behaviour and knowledge of HKIEd teacher trainees. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association (HKERA) 16th Annual Conference: Exploring New Frontiers in Education, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


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