Longitudinal analysis of the environmental attitudes of university students
shephard, Kerry; Harraway, John; Jowett, Tim; Lovelock, Brent; Skeaff, Sheila; Slooten, Liz; Furnari, Mary; Strack, Mick
This article addresses the important questions that higher education institutions ask concerning their impact on their students’ sustainability-related attributes ‘How do our students’ worldviews change as they experience higher education with us?’ The process of monitoring such a dynamic entity is fraught with statistical complexity but may not be impossible for an institution willing to ask whether or not its educational efforts in ‘education for sustainability’, ‘education for sustainable development’ or ‘environmental education’, and campus sustainability developments, are paralleled by changes in the attitudes of its students. We describe here a longitudinal survey process based on the revised New Ecological Paradigm scale, with two cohorts of students, in three programmes of study, operating over four years, with multiple survey inputs by each student. We implemented the longitudinal analysis using a linear mixed-effects model and describe here the development and testing of this model. We conclude that higher education institutions can benchmark the sustainability attributes of their students and monitor changes, if they are minded to. We invite higher education practitioners worldwide to join us in further developing suitable research instruments, processes and statistical models, and in further analysing the assumptions that link higher education to sustainability and to global citizenship.
Keywords: monitoring change, sustainability attitudes, learning in the affective domain, longitudinal modelling, linear mixed-effects model
Research Type: Journal Article