Pre-Service Teachers’ Moral Reasoning about Environmental Dilemmas: The Effect of Dilemma Topic and Information Enhancement

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There is a common belief in the literature that our actions and opinions about environmental issues are guided by our emotional responses and values rather than our scientific knowledge on those issues. Thus, the need for affective approaches in environmental education has arisen in all levels of education, including teacher education. Similarly, the claim that the possible gap between people’s environmental knowledge and environmentally responsible behavior may be due to their not perceiving environmental problems as moral issues, which is related to their environmental concern. In this respect, studying moral reasoning patterns of pre-service teachers seems very plausible since they will be the teachers of the future who have crucial roles in environmental education given in our schools. Moreover, this study will examine the proposition that there are similarities in young people’s environmental moral reasoning across diverse cultures. Fifty-three pre-service teachers (31 female and 22 male) participated in this study and four environmental dilemmas involving moral judgments were presented to them. Within the dilemmas, information on the impact of the environmental damages was manipulated. Three categories were used (i.e., ecocentric, anthropocentric, and non-environmental) for participants’ responses regarding their considerations about the dilemmas. Content analysis revealed the importance of familiarity to the environmental issues for providing responses. Lowest number of response was obtained for the ‘old growth’ dilemma and highest number of response was obtained for ‘gathering firewood’ dilemma. Overall, participants exhibited more ecocentric moral considerations than anthropocentric and non-environmental reasoning. Including information about impact on environment resulted in an increase in ecocentric and a decrease in non-environmental moral reasoning patterns. However, for the garbage dilemma topic, increasing responses was observed regarding participants’ moral reasoning when impact on environment was not given.


Keywords: Environmental Moral Reasoning, Environmental Dilemmas, Environmental Education, Teacher Education
Stream: Teacher Training and Professional Development
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Busra Tuncay

Research Assistant, Department of Elementary Education
Faculty of Education, Giresun University

Ankara, Turkey


Ozgul Yilmaz-Tuzun

Associate Professor, Department of Elementary Education
Faculty of Education, Middle East Technichal University

Ankara, Turkey


Gaye Teksoz

Assistant Professor, Department of Elementary Education
Faculty of Education, Middle East Technical University

Ankara, Turkey


Ref: L09P1330