This study explored environmental worldviews of selected undergraduate students in Taiwan and located the associations of these worldviews with science. The “environment” is represented as nature or the natural world, as opposed to the social and spiritual world. The participants were undergraduate students (14 science and 15 nonscience majors) enrolled in a general science course at a southern Taiwanese university. A questionnaire and individual interviews were conducted in parallel to elicit in depth the students’ ideas/beliefs about nature, such as, to what construes nature, how it works, and how humans relate to nature. The responses were analyzed using a phenomenographic approach to emphasize the qualitative variation of the students’ views. The key findings based on their relations to science and science education were the following: (1) Most students seemed to immediately relate the topic of nature to science and thus sought to explain nature from a scientific perspective, yet their understanding of scientific concepts or metaphors, such as the balance of nature, was problematic; (2) a value-free perspective is evident among some students in viewing human-induced natural crises: What we should do is merely look at facts and let science tell us what we should and should not do. (3) The students generally expressed trust in science and technology and believed it to be the key to improving the condition of nature as well as human life.
This is a preview of subscription content,to check access.
Access this article
Broome, J. (2008). The ethics of climate change. Scientific American, 298(6), 96–102.
Capra, F. (1991). The Tao of physics (3rd ed.). Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Carton, A.D. (2010). Environmental worldview and faith in science as moderators of the relationship between beliefs about and attitudes toward nuclear energy. http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/psych_theses/73. Accessed 2 Feb 2012.
Choi, K., Lee, H., Shin, N., Kim, S., & Krajcik, J. (2011). Reconceptualizing of scientific literacy in South Korea for the 21st century. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(6), 670–697.
Cobern, W. W. (1993). College students’ conceptualizations of nature: An interpretive world view analysis. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 30(8), 935–951.
Cobern, W. W., Gibson, A. T., & Underwood, S. A. (1999). Conceptualizations of nature: An interpretive study of 16 ninth graders’ everything thinking. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36(5), 541–563.
Colucci-Gray, L., Camino, E., Barbiero, G., & Gray, D. (2006). From scientific literacy to sustainability literacy: An ecological framework for education. Science Education, 90(2), 227–252.
Cresswell, J. W. (1994). Research design: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Dunlap, R. E., & Van Liere, K. D. (1978). The new environmental paradigm. Journal of Environmental Education, 9, 10–19.
Dunlap, R. E., Van Liere, K. D., Mertig, A. G., & Jones, R. E. (2000). Measuring endorsement of the new ecological paradigm: A revised NEP scale. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), 425–442.
Ergazaki, M., & Ampatzidis, G. (2012). Students’ reasoning about the future of disturbed or protected ecosystems and the idea of the ‘balance of nature’. Research in Science Education, 42(3), 511–530.
Foss, J. E. (2009). Beyond environmentalism: A philosophy of nature. New Jersey: Wiley.
Gruber, N., & Galloway, J. N. (2008). An Earth-system perspective of the global nitrogen cycle. Nature, 451, 293–296.
Harris, L.R., Brown, G.T.L. (2010). Mixing interview and questionnaire methods: Practical problems in aligning data. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 15(1). http://pareonline.net/pdf/v15n1.pdf. Accessed 2 Feb 2012.
Jelemenská, P., & Kattmann, U. (2008). Understanding the units of nature: From reification to reflection. A contribution to educational reconstruction in the field of ecology. In M. Hammann, M. Reiss, C. Boulter, & S. D. Tunnicliffe (Eds.), Biology in context. Learning and teaching for the twenty-first century. London: University of London. vol. 29–39.
Kellert, S. R. (1976). Perceptions of animals in American society. Transactions of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, 41, 533–545.
Korfiatis, K. J., Stamou, A. G., & Paraskevopoulos, S. (2004). Images of nature in Greek primary school textbooks. Science Education, 88(1), 72–89. doi:10.1002/sce.10133.
Lawton, J. (2001). Editorial—Earth system science. Science, 292(5524), 1965.
Lin, H. (Ed.). (2008). PISA 2006 Taiwan national report: Science Education Center, National Hualien University of Education.
Liu, S.-Y., & Lederman, N. G. (2007). Exploring prospective teachers’ worldviews and conceptions of nature and science. International Journal of Science Education, 29(10), 1281–1307.
Loughland, T., Reid, A., & Retocz, P. (2002). Young people’s conceptions of environment: a phenomenographic analysis. Environmental Education Research, 8(2), 187–197.
Marten, G. G. (2001). Human ecology—Basic concepts for sustainable development. London: Earthscan Publications.
McComas, W. F. (1996). Ten myths of science: Reexamining what we think we know about the nature of science. School Science and Mathematics, 96(1), 10–16.
Ogawa, M. (1998). A cultural history of science education in Japan: An epic description. In W. W. Cobern (Ed.), Socio-cultural perspectives on science education (pp. 139–161). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Östman, L. (1994). Rethinking science teaching as a moral act. Journal of Nordic Educational Research, 14(3), 141–150.
Östman, L. (1996). Discourses, discursive meanings and socialization in chemistry education. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 28(1), 37–55.
Östman, L. (1998). How companion meanings are expressed by science education discourse. In D. A. Roberts & L. Östman (Eds.), Problems of meaning in science curriculum (pp. 54–70). New York: Teachers College Press.
Plumwood, V. (2007). Environmental ethics. In J. Pretty, A. Ball, T. Benton, J. S. Guivant, D. Lee, D. Orr, M. Pfeffer, & H. Ward (Eds.), Environment and society (pp. 240–266). Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks.
Pretty, J., Ball, A. S., Benton, T., Guivant, J. S., Lee, D. R., Orr, D., et al. (2007). Introduction to environment and society. In J. Pretty, A. S. Ball, T. Benton, J. S. Guivant, D. R. Lee, D. Orr, M. J. Pfeffer, & H. Ward (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of environment and society (pp. 1–32). London: Sage Publications.
Sharma, A. (2012). Global climate change: What has science education got to do with it? Science & Education, 21, 33–53.
Tooth, S. (2008). Arid geomorphology: recent progress from an Earth System Science perspective. Progress in Physical Geography, 32(1), 81–101.
Vining, J., Merrick, M. S., & Price, E. A. (2008). The distinction between humans and nature: Human perceptions of connectedness to nature and elements of the natural and unnatural. Human Ecology Review, 15(1). http://www.humanecologyreview.org/pastissues/her151/viningetal.pdf. Accessed 2 Feb 2012.
von Roten, F. C. (2012). The human-animal boundary in Switzerland: A cross-cultural perspective. In M. W. Bauer, R. Shukla, & N. Allum (Eds.), The culture of science: How public relates to science across the globe (pp. 323–335). New York: Taylor & Francis.
Zimmerman, C., & Cuddington, K. (2007). Ambiguous, circular and polysemous: Students’ definitions of the “balance of nature” metaphor. Public Understanding of Science, 16(4), 393–406.
About this article
Cite this article
Liu, SC., Lin, Hs. UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS’ SCIENCE-RELATED IDEAS AS EMBEDDED IN THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL WORLDVIEWS. Int J of Sci and Math Educ 12, 1001–1021 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10763-013-9448-2