Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Investigating Students' Environmental Knowledge, Attitude, Practice and Communication

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Investigating Students' Environmental Knowledge, Attitude, Practice and Communication

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study investigated the relationship between students' knowledge, attitude and practice of the environment and effective communication of environmental messages. For this purpose, a knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) survey was conducted, involving 895 students from 16 higher learning institutions in Malaysia. The findings revealed that students in general, have a good level of environmental knowledge. However, knowledge does not necessarily lead to practice. There was a weak relationship between students' level of knowledge and sustainable environment practices. Similarly, there was a weak relationship between students' attitude and sustainable environment practices. Hence, attitude is not a good predictor for sustainable environment practices. These findings highlight the complexity of the relationship between students' knowledge, attitude and sustainable environment practice. The findings of this study also suggested that, the internet is regarded as students preferred choice of media which can be utilised to disseminate environmental information. It is important, however, not to disregard the roles of more traditional media such as television and newspapers, as they can also be effectively used to deliver environmental information. Besides media, educational institutions and family also have crucial roles to disseminate environmental information and encourage good practice. Since many of the earlier studies of this nature have been conducted in at other places, particularly in the first world countries, this study is expected to contribute to the knowledge based on Malaysia's own experience as a developing nation that aspire to champion sustainable environment.

Keywords: environment, students, higher learning, knowledge, attitude, practice and communication

1. Introduction

Malaysia's outstanding economic growth over the last decades has negatively impacted its environment (WWF, 2014). As results of uncontrolled development, Malaysia has to deal with crucial issues related to deforestation, soil and coastal erosion, air and water pollution, and waste management problem (WWF, 2014). Realising the needs to address these environmental issues, Malaysia embraces the sustainable development concept with the aim of promoting balanced development and preserving the environment and the ecology for the future (Rosly, 2012). Malaysia's proactive effort in promoting sustainable development is evidenced in the environmental awareness programmes that are carried out at all levels including youth (UN, 2014).

The government's emphasis on youth's involvement in promoting sustainable development is evident in the inclusion of the concept in the country's education system at all education levels (Foo, 2013). The goal is to nurture the younger generations and to educate them on the importance of sustaining human needs and preserving the environment for the future (Foo, 2013). In line with the government's efforts, leading higher educational institutions in the country including Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) take proactive actions in promoting sustainable development (Foo, 2013). USM for instance, established the Centre for Global Sustainability Studies (CGSS) to ingrain the concept into the philosophy of the institution and aspires to become a world class sustainability led institution (Kaur & Chapman, 2008; USM, 2014). In the same vein, UKM's sustainability initiative is demonstrated in the formation of the Institute for Environment and Development (LESTARI). Established in 1994, LESTARI aims to instil sustainability through research and capacity development (UKM, 2014). Such initiatives indicate how educational institutions in Malaysia strive to inculcate knowledge and awareness of sustainability among youth, and to realise government's aspiration, which is to ensure sustainable development in the country (MPC, 2010; Rosly, 2012). …

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