Essay Sample on Influence on University Student's Pro-Environmental Behavior

Published: 2023-02-10
Essay Sample on Influence on University Student's Pro-Environmental Behavior
Type of paper:  Article review
Categories:  Students Ecology Human behavior Community
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1478 words
13 min read

Environmental knowledge and pro-environmental behavior of youths are of great importance to researchers and climate change enthusiasts. Among the youths, researchers have investigated whether university students' pro-environmental behavior can be improved by equipping the students with relevant environmental knowledge. For instance, Vicente-Molina et al. (2013) sought to explore the influence of environmental knowledge on environmental behavior among university students from countries with varying levels of economic development (Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and the USA). Vicente-Molina et al. (2013) established that students from developed and developing countries have differences in pro-environmental behavior - with those of developed countries being more pro-environmental. Differences in pro-environmental behavior of university students from developed and developing countries were attributed to services in each country, environmental structures, and culture. In both groups, pro-environmental behavior was attributed to motivation and perceived effectiveness. Moreover, both objective and subjective environmental knowledge was found to significantly predict pro-environmental behavior (Vicente-Molina et al. 2013).

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In support of Vicente-Molina et al.' s (2013) findings, He et al. (2011) reported that even though Chinese university students had low levels of environmental knowledge, they exhibited pro-environmental behaviors as manifested by their commitment to environment-friendly behaviors. However, like in Vicente-Molina et al.' s (2013) study, students' pro-environmental was affected by levels of regional economic development; with students from developed regions showing more pro-environmental behaviors than those of less-developed regions despite having been exposed to similar institutionalized environmental education. Undergraduate students from Brazil and Portugal have also been reported to have a good level of concern for the environment and pro-environmental attitude (Cortes et al. 2016). However, Portuguese students showed a lower level of environmental concern and attitude than their Brazilian colleagues. However, Brazilian students were more concerned about environmental issues than their Portuguese counterparts (Cortes et al. 2016). This was manifested by Brazilian students' greater preference for consumption of greener products than the Portuguese students (Cortes et al. 2016). Conversely, Gouvea et al. (2016) reported that environmental teaching has no impact on students' pro-environmental behavior. Students were found to show no improvements in environmental behaviors based on the number of environmental classes, thus indicating that family habits had a more significant influence on students' environmental behaviors.

Taking a different research approach, Freed and Wong (2019) investigated whether environmental identity was linked to pro-environmental behavior among U.S. university students. It was established that both students with lower and higher lower pro-environmental identity engaged in pro-environmental behavior (recycling) regularly (Freed & Wong 2019). Consequently, it is recommended in addition to environmental education, the presence of environmental structures associated with pro-environmental behavior (e.g., recycling bins) are crucial components of students' pro-environmental behaviors.

Unlike the previously reviewed studies, Dalida et al. (2018) sought to understand whether the mode of delivery of environmental education (traditional learning versus community-based learning) affects students' pro-environmental behaviors. Findings of the study revealed that community-based environmental education is more effective in the development of pro-environmental attitudes than traditional learning approaches (Dalida et al. 2018). Consequently, it is recommended that community-based learning should be adopted. A strong positive association between the intensity of environmental education and students' environmental knowledge has also been established among Hungarian university students (Zsoka et al. 2013). That is, environmental education is useful in shaping students' pro-environmental attitudes (Zsoka et al. 2013). Similarly, Brazilian university students' pro-environmental behaviors have been reported to be linked to four aspects of environmental concern - apathy, anthropocentrism, connectivity and emotional affinity (Amerigo et al. 2017). Consequently, providing environmental education by focusing on the four attitudinal aspects can enhance pro-environmental behaviors.

Another study involving a sample of Indiana University students has further exemplified the importance of environmental education in equipping students with relevant environmental knowledge and influencing their pro-environmental behavior (Pizmony-Levy & Ostrow Michel 2018). Indiana University students reported that hearing concepts such as sustainability and environmentalism in class positively influenced their levels of care for the environment. Similarly, the students reported that their pro-environmental behaviors were linked to membership in university-based environmental groups (Pizmony-Levy & Ostrow Michel 2018).

Attitude change is a crucial aspect of promoting environmental behavior (Johnson & Cincera, 2015). In a sample of Czech and United State students, instilling pro-environmental attitudes to students was found to lead to personal behavior change (Johnson & Cincera 2015). Another approach to the promotion of pro-environmental behaviors is the elimination of barriers. In a study conducted at Bournemouth University, England, the main barriers to pro-environmental behaviors were found to be institutional hurdles, funding, and time (Scarborough & Cantarello 2018). Consequently, it is recommended that efforts should be made to work on these hurdles to promote pro-environmental behaviors. In a study aimed at understanding predictors of students' pro-environmental behaviors, Onokala et al. (2018) reported that United States university students have a higher level of pro-environmental behavior than their Chinese counterparts, showing that environmental behavior is context-specific. Another predictor of pro-environmental behavior among Finland students is the enjoyment of nature (Kukkonen et al. 2018). Students who enjoy nature, those who do not support human dominance, and those who possess global concerns are more likely to show pro-environmental behavior (Kukkonen et al. 2018). Pro-environmental behavior has also been found to be affected by students' cultural background. For instance, Turkish students were found to have higher pro-environmental behaviors than Middle Eastern students because of their hierarchical and egalitarian cultural tendencies (Tezel et al. 2018). Similarly, Fu et al. (2017) reported that pro-environmental behavior among Chinese students was high because of pro-environmental cultural atmosphere characterized by China's universities inclination towards eco-technology and energy management.

When it comes to environmental knowledge and its impacts on pro-environmental behavior, the effectiveness of general knowledge versus environmental-specific knowledge has intrigued researchers (Geiger et al. 2019). Findings of the study showed that general knowledge (with an environmental domain) weakly predicted pro-environmental behavior, unlike environmental-specific knowledge which strongly predicted positive environmental behaviors (Geiger et al. 2019). Another essential aspect of students' pro-environmental behavior is whether or not a student is pursuing the environment-related course (Heyl et al. 2014). Among Chilean university students, those who pursue environment courses were found to be more likely to show a higher frequency of pro-environmental behaviors than those who are not.

In the Malaysian context, Ahmad et al. (2010) established that University Tun Abdul Razak students had extensive knowledge of environmental issues. However, it was established that the students did not have adequate knowledge of some environmental concepts and terms, e.g., biodegradability. More importantly, students with a vast knowledge of environmental issues were found to have pro-environmental behaviors. In a related study, involving Maltese university students, Mifsud (2011) established that the students' attitude towards the environment was highly positive. However, unlike in the previously reviewed studies, students' positive attitude towards the environment was weakly manifested in their actions towards the environment. In a study involving a sample of university students from Tokyo Bay and San Francisco Bay Area, Nishiyama (2014) established that environmental education at both childhood and university educational levels has a strong positive impact on students' environmental attitudes and pro-environmental behavior. Similarly, in a related study, Kirk (2010) established a significant positive relationship between students' environmental knowledge and pro-environmental behaviors. Similar findings have been reported in other empirical studies (e.g., Blok et al. 2015; Cordano et al. 2010; Dijkstra & Goedhart 2012; Esa 2010; Levine & Strube 2012; Liobikien & Poskus 2010; Onel & Mukherjee 2016; Poskus 2018; Teksoz et al. 2012).

It is crucial to understand that the positive role of environmental education in promoting students' pro-environmental behaviors has been manifested through students' green purchase behavior. For instance, undergraduate students in Hong Kong were found to have positive environmental behaviors and environmental responsibility, as shown through their appreciation of green marketing practices and their green purchase behavior (Lai & Cheng 2016). Similar findings have been found in developing nations, such as India and Taiwan (Culiberg & ElgaaiedGambier 2016; Paladino & Ng 2013; Weller et al. 2014; Yadav & Pathak 2016; Yu et al. 2017).

Pro-Environmental Behavior in the Nigerian Context

In support of the previous studies, Ajaps and McLellan (2015) established that UK and Nigeria university students with environmental knowledge reported pro-environmental behaviors. Moreover, Ajaps and McLellan (2015) indicated that they needed environmental education content given to them through practical approaches such as field trips. Consequently, it was recommended that both theoretical and practical approaches to environmental education are crucial for promoting pro-environmental behaviors. Nigerian university students have also manifested pro-environmental behaviors (Don 2016; Kola-Lawal 2015; Ogunbode & Arnold 2012). Students from a federal university in Edo State, Nigeria, were found to be highly knowledgeable in environmental matters and to have favorable attitudes towards the environment (Don 2016). In a related study, Erhabor and Oviahon (2018) indicated that apart from environmental education, majority of the students reported that their pro-environmental behavior was also influenced by family functioning. Both family functioning and students' positive environmental attitude significantly predicted environmental behaviors of the students (Erhabor & Oviahon 2018).

Gender Differences in Pro-Environmental Behavior

In support of previous findings, Indonesian university students have also been reported to show 'good' level pro-environmental behaviors (Ningrum & Herdiansyah 2018). However, unlike previous studies, gender differences in environmental awareness and behaviors were reported; with the female students showing more pro-environmental behaviors than their male counterparts (Ningrum & Herdiansyah 2018).

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