Multivariate Analysis of Attitudes of Elementary Education Teachers towards the Environment, Computers and E-Learning

Article excerpt

Technology education may play a decisive role in formulating the stance of future entrepreneurs on environmental issues. This work analyses the attitudes of elementary school teachers towards information technologies, e-learning and environmental issues. One hundred and forty questionnaires completed by teachers from the Athens area in Greece were collected and analysed. Technological and environmental principal components were extracted. A cluster analysis of the principal component scores separated the teachers into more and less experienced groups. Finally, canonical correlation analysis of the principal component scores showed that the experienced teachers were in agreement with ecological beliefs and behaviour, while the less experienced instructors with good computer skills and a fearless approach to e-learning, had a more sceptical view of the environment.

Keywords: environmental attitude, electronic learning; principal component analysis, cluster analysis, canonical correlation analysis

I. INTRODUCTION

At a time characterised by rapid technological change, society is increasingly dependent on information and communication technology (ICT). However, along with the proliferation and prevalence of ICT applications, global environmental problems caused by the reduced availability of natural resources and high population growth, call into question the lifestyle of modern society. This may be of greater concern to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) where relatively few people are responsible for numerous business functions, including monitoring and managing environmental impacts. As the main sources of acquiring information and knowledge are now computers, the Internet and electronic learning (e-learning), it is interesting to examine their relationship with the formation of opinions on environmental issues. Elearning, which refers to teaching through electronic media such as the Internet, is of particular interest to educators (Govindasamy, 2002).

As the attitude of a user towards ICT becomes more positive, her intention of using it increases (Liaw, 2007). Sotiropoulos and Paravantis (2010) argued that the attitude of educators towards modern technologies is an important factor in determining the future of education. Elementary education teachers, in particular, provide the first opportunity for students to have a positive experience with modern technology, and may have a decisive influence on formulating students' attitudes towards technology and the knowledge gained from it. As Coppola (1999) suggests, education is challenged by international mandates such as Agenda 21 (UNCED, 1992) to develop environmental literacy in college and university graduates across curricula. Almost two thirds of scientific publications in environmental psychology refer to environmental attitudes (Kaiser, Wolfing and Fuhrer, 1999). This work extends the analysis of Sotiropoulos and Paravantis (2010), who were among the first to collect data with the intention of linking the attitudes of elementary school teachers towards ICT and e-learning to their stance on current environmental issues.

II. LITERATURE REVIEW

E-learning is the main educational application of ICT and is usually defined by the types of learning and technologies that are used (Khan, 2000; Govindasamy, 2002). Rosenberg (2001) wrote that e-learning is networked; it is delivered to the end user with internet technologies; and it focuses on a philosophy of learning that transcends traditional models of education. Liaw, Huang and Chen (2007) argued that e-learning, in contrast to traditional learning processes, extends traditional paradigms and creates new dynamic models of teaching and learning via ICT. Cohen and Nycz (2006) suggested that e-learning is technology's answer to the demand of modern society for accelerated lifelong learning.

The literature on the concept of e-learning leads to the conclusion that a person's attitude to it may be regarded as part of a wider attitude towards all technological systems. …