What does a Survey Study on Beliefs towards Human Population Growth Imply for Teacher Education

Problem, theoretical framework and aims: Every human being desires to meet survival needs like nutrition, fresh water, clothes and shelter; however, when the world’s current situation is examined, people come across with some challenges, especially in some societies having a rapid population growth (Raven & Berg, 2006). Nevertheless, no consensus is reached on the interactions between human population growth (HPG), environment, economic systems and quality of human life. The HPG trends in the history leads to an idea that the number of people could not increase forever (Withgott & Brennon, 2011). However, in order to grasp the complex nature of these emerging debates, it is also necessary to consider the context of carrying capacity (CC). Estimating CC of an area is hard to accomplish since it can be affected by different variables such as technological improvement, amount of natural resources, and consumption patterns etc. Many authorities (e.g. Ehrlich & Ehrlich, 1972; Hardin & Baden 1977; Wilson, 2002) in different academic disciplines have arguments on the possible long term effects of HPG and propose various solutions to minimize these effects. According to some scientists, HPG causes some environmental problems (Raven & Berg, 2006). Economists, on the other hand, do not compromise on the interaction between HPG and economic development (Kelley, 1988). Moreover, some authors (e.g. Sagoff, 1993; Raven & Berg, 2006) pointed out that despite the stable HPG; developed countries decrease CC of Earth more than developing countries with increasing population growth. In order to maintain the HPG within the CC, sustainable development (SD) can be considered as essential context (Daily & Ehrlich, 1992). Hence, population issues in the context of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) are being considered for achieving sustainability goals and are included in many countries’ curricula especially those who have high HPG rate (Mfono, 1993). Although Turkey is one of the 20 most populated countries (UNFPA, 2013), HPG and CC are not being emphasized yet the context of the elementary science curriculum, in which ESD is a newly-introduced concept (Ministry of National Education [MoNE], 2013). In the light of the literature, the aim of the current study is to determine pre-service teachers’ beliefs on HPG, since their beliefs have essential effect on future classroom implementations (Pajares, 1992). Beliefs usually shape attitudes and behaviors of students, and are related to direct experiences, education, and social factors (Bloom, & Ellis, 2009). Even though the research studies on pre-service teachers’ beliefs have been extensively explored (Bryan, 2002), limited studies are found pertinent to the pre-service teachers’ beliefs in the context of ESD and HPG. Determining pre-service teachers’ beliefs may elucidate their instructional behavior in the classroom and contribute to embedding HPG and carrying capacity concept in ESD courses in a way that pre-service teachers acquire knowledge about the complex nature of HPG and its interconnectedness with environment, economy, and society. Methodology: The survey method used in the study. The sample consists of 658 pre-service teachers (77.4% female; 21.6% male) enrolled in the Faculty of Education in Middle East Technical University. “Beliefs on Human Population Growth” scale (BHPG) was administered to explore pre-service teachers’ beliefs on HPG. The BHPG scale consist of six dimensions named as Requirements to Support HPG, Neo-Malthusian Environmentalism, Quality of Human Life, Population and National Economy, Population, Resources and the Environment and Population and Migration. The responses of pre-service teachers were estimated through descriptive statistics. Results: The results revealed that there are direct relationships between HPG, air pollution, climate change and exploitation of natural resources. Moreover, they believe that the Earth’s capacity limit to support life is exceeded. Contrary to these beliefs, they also reflected that unsustainable utilization of natural resources is responsible for environmental problems rather than HPG. As the results display, pre-service teachers support HPG in several circumstances like planned urbanization and maintenance of social equity. On the other hand, they opposed that HPG is essential for economic development and welfare. In addition, they reflected that migration brings some problems like cultural conflicts, economic, and environmental problems. To sum up, pre-service teachers moderately believe that HPG causes a decrease in the quality of human life. Furthermore, they believe that population may grow if quality of human life is guaranteed. Their beliefs are mainly related to ensuring standard living conditions and major needs. On the other hand, they have contradictive beliefs about the relationship between human and environment. Educational implication of the results however, may be that; pre-service teachers’ shall be informed about human – environment relationship in the context of sustainability and HPG and CC shall be the issues to be discussed within this context.
EJER Congress 2014 (24 - 26 Nisan 2014)


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Citation Formats
S. Demirci, E. Şahin, and G. Teksöz, “What does a Survey Study on Beliefs towards Human Population Growth Imply for Teacher Education,” presented at the EJER Congress 2014 (24 - 26 Nisan 2014), İstanbul, Türkiye, 2014, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://ejercongress.org/pdf/Congress.pdf.