An associational study on pre-service early childhood teachers' nature relatedness in education for sustainability
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There is significant global concern with current environmental problems, yet people's behaviour towards the environment has been resistant to change. Young people have the opportunity to bring about desirable changes through environmental behaviours and attitudes. The goal of this study is to better understand the scope of nature relatedness as an attribution interacting with pro-environmental behaviours for Turkish pre-service early childhood teachers. We examined the associations between the domains representing nature relatedness and also sought to identify any differences in nature relatedness with respect to their year of enrolment in a teacher education program. The participants were 402 students attending an Early Childhood Teacher Education Program at one of the two public universities in the capital of Turkey. A Turkish-adapted version of the Nature Relatedness Scale developed by Nisbet, Zelenski, and Murphy was administered to gather the data. Participants were found to have a mostly positive external nature-related worldview. Furthermore, the statistical analysis indicated non-significant differences in their nature relatedness with respect to the year of enrolment in the teacher education program. In terms of the relationships between the constructs representing nature relatedness, the internalized identification with nature was positively correlated with two constructs which refer to his/her physical familiarity as well as attraction to nature, and how individual's relationship with the environment is provoked by his/her behaviour. This research indicates that pre-service teachers, who are regarded as important agents for the future implementation of sustainability education, are actually lacking in their nature relatedness constructs and need to develop key competencies in a field that presupposes that they have already acquired sufficient experience of physical and emotional interaction with nature.