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Exploring changes of conceptions, values and beliefs concerning the environment: A longitudinal study of upper secondary school students in business and economics education
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6350-7763
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines students’ understanding of economic aspects of global environmental problems. The first aim is to identify and characterise changes in business and economics students’ conceptions of negative environmental effects and pricing goods and services. The second aim is to identify and characterise changes in students’ values, beliefs and personal norms regarding effective solutions to climate change problems. Three studies were carried out with students in Swedish upper secondary schools. The first study used an open-ended questionnaire and is presented in Article I. The second and third studies drew on a longitudinal study, using both qualitative and quantitative research methods and results are presented in Article II and Article III.

Article I shows that students’ awareness of environmental issues varies in relation to the type of good. Some goods are seen as more harmful to nature than others, for example, jeans were not perceived as environmentally negative while beef burgers and travel services were to some extent. This indicates that environmental references are often characterised through perceptible aspects of goods’ production i.e. being more expensive because of environmentally friendly production. Furthermore, some understanding of negative externalities was revealed. Interestingly, when value aspects of how prices should be set students more frequently refer to environmental impact.

Article II describes changes in students’ price and environmental conceptions over the course of a year. It identifies the fragmentary nature of students’ every-day thinking in relation to productivity, consumer preference and negative externalities. Differences in conceptions of how prices are linked to negative impact is characterised in terms of basic, partial and complex understandings of productivity as well as basic and partial understandings of consumers’ influences. Partial conceptions are seen as students’ conceptions in a process of change towards a more scientific understanding of price and negative environmental impact. Most interestingly, the results show that more than one aspect of environmental impact and pricing are simultaneously relevant. This is highlighted by a change from views putting productivity at the centre for how prices are set to include consumers’ preferences when judgmentally describing how prices should be set. The results conclude that students show a broader content knowledge regarding pricing and the environment when including normative preferences.

Article III explores changes in students’ value orientations, beliefs regarding efficient solutions to climate change and norms for pro-environmental actions. Small changes are observed regarding the three constructs. Value changes are reported in terms of a small average increase in importance of altruistic, biospheric and egoistic orientations while common individual changes are shown in shifts between weak and strong values. Beliefs regarding efficient climate change solutions are taxes and legislations while changes in market prices are perceived as being least effective. The findings show no direct relations between values and norms hence change in norms is associated with values through changes in beliefs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Education, Stockholm University , 2017.
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar från Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik, 55
Keyword [en]
environment, sustainability, interdisciplinary, longitudinal study, conceptual change, prices, externalities, values-beliefs-norms, climate change solutions, upper secondary school students, business and economics education
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-147639ISBN: 978-91-7797-018-7 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7797-019-4 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-147639DiVA: diva2:1149641
Public defence
2017-12-01, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2007-08877
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-11-08 Created: 2017-10-16 Last updated: 2017-11-08Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Swedish Upper Secondary School Students' Conceptions of Negative Environmental Impact and Pricing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish Upper Secondary School Students' Conceptions of Negative Environmental Impact and Pricing
2013 (English)In: Sustainability, ISSN 2071-1050, E-ISSN 2071-1050, Vol. 5, no 3, 982-996 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study explores relationships between upper secondary school students. understanding of prices and environmental impacts. The study uses responses from 110 students to problems in which they were asked to explain differences in prices and also to express and justify opinions on what should be the difference in prices. Very few students expressed an environmental dimension in their understanding of price. A few students suggested that environmental impact influenced price by raising demand for Environmentally friendly products. A few students suggested that, environmentally friendly products. had higher prices because they were more costly to produce. We found no examples of students combining both lines of explanation. However, nearly half of the students believed that prices should reflect environmental effects, and this reasoning was divided between cases where the point was justified by a broad environmental motivation and cases where the point was justified in relation to incentives-to get consumers to act in a more environmentally friendly way.

Keyword
externalities, conceptions of price, conceptions of human and physical environment interactions
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-95096 (URN)10.3390/su5030982 (DOI)000324047700009 ()
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Note

AuthorCount:3;

Available from: 2013-10-22 Created: 2013-10-21 Last updated: 2017-10-16Bibliographically approved
2. Understanding ’Price’ and the Environment: Exploring Upper Secondary Students’ Conceptual Development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Understanding ’Price’ and the Environment: Exploring Upper Secondary Students’ Conceptual Development
2017 (English)In: Journal of Social Science Education, ISSN 1611-9665, E-ISSN 1618-5293, Vol. 16, no 1, 68-80 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: To explore changes in upper secondary students´ conceptions of environmental issues in how prices are determined and how they should be determined. Design:The study uses an ’alternative frameworks’ conceptual change approach to examine change in the conceptions of fifteen business and economic students. Students were asked about the prices of familiar products and asked to explain prices for eco-friendly and eco-unfriendly products. A first interview was conducted in the second year of education and the second interview a year later when students were 18 years old and in the final year of schooling. Interviews were carried out out by a researcher independent from the schools and carried out in schools. Findings: Identifies the fragmentary nature of students´ every-day thinking in relation to productivity, consumer preference and negative externalities. Results show characteristics of partial conceptions, which are considered as students´ conceptions in a process of change towards a more scientific understanding of relationships between price and environmental impacts. Practical implications: The study clarifies conceptions, which students bring to the classroom and the directions thatdevelopment in understanding may take. The study should help teachers to design effective strategies to support students’ learning.

Keyword
Price, externality, sustainability, longitudinal study, economic and environmental education
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-147359 (URN)10.4119/UNIBI/jsse-v16-i1-1556 (DOI)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2007-08877
Available from: 2017-09-25 Created: 2017-09-25 Last updated: 2017-10-16Bibliographically approved
3. A longitudinal study of upper secondary school students’ values and beliefs regarding policy responses to climate change
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A longitudinal study of upper secondary school students’ values and beliefs regarding policy responses to climate change
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This article explores changes of environmental values and beliefs among secondary school business and economics students regarding government and market solutions to climate change. A longitudinal survey was administrated to students at two occasions including 212 participants in the first measurement. Results show a small significant increase in importance for altruistic, biospheric and egoistic value orientations at average. At individual level, there are substantial movements over time, 60% of the students change strength in values over time. Taxes and legislations are the most effective solutions to climate change however there was a decrease in seeing market prices as useful measurements. Analysis suggested no direct relationship between change in value orientation and change in norms. However indirect associations was found mediated by changing beliefs in the efficacy of education and information and the efficacy of tax policies. For example, students who became more egoistic and more convinced about the efficacy of tax were less likely than others to be willing to take personal actions. 

Keyword
Value, beliefs norms theory, secondary business and economic students, longitudinal study, climate change
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-147823 (URN)
Available from: 2017-10-16 Created: 2017-10-16 Last updated: 2017-10-16Bibliographically approved

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