Evaluating Pre-Service Teacher Workforce: Environmental Health Knowledge, Attitude, and Behavior
Rhodes, Darson L.
Brown, Stephen L.
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Research has shown that personal health behaviors and actions established early in life are often carried through adulthood. Thus, working with children to increase environmental health literacy may improve the environmental health literacy of future adults, potentially improving the health of the Nation. Given the amount of time children spend in school, this setting could be an ideal place to address environmental health with children. According to social cognitive theory, observation is one way in which learning takes place. Consequently, the environmental behaviors and attitudes modeled by teachers would likely impact the environmental behaviors and attitudes learned by students. A research study including 101 pre-service teachers from a large Midwestern university was conducted to determine participants’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding environmental health. Results indicated major deficiencies in basic knowledge as well as many unfavorable environmental behaviors. On average, participants answered only 49.7% of knowledge items correctly. Less than half (46.0%) recycle bottles or cans “often” or “almost always.” Given these results, pre-service teachers are likely ill-prepared to address environmental health literacy in their classrooms. Teacher education programs need to address this deficiency in pre-service teachers through the implementation of new courses focused on environmental health or the redesign of current courses to include environmental health content.