Environmental Education in China

Environmental Education in China

Gerald A. McBeath, Jenifer Huang McBeath, Tian Qing and Huang Yu

China’s environmental problems increasingly attract global attention, yet critics often overlook the sizable efforts of the Chinese people and government to change attitudes and behavior, in order to improve environmental outcomes. This much-needed book provides a comprehensive introduction to environmental education in China. After consideration of the environment in Chinese philosophy, the authors focus on application of directives and new guidelines to compulsory, secondary and college education, and also analyze the way in which teachers are trained. They then examine conditioning factors, such as the media and NGOs, as well as the variation of education within China, and attempt to measure the efficacy of environmental education over time.

Chapter 9: Measuring changes in environmental consciousness, knowledge and behavior

Gerald A. McBeath, Jenifer Huang McBeath, Tian Qing and Huang Yu

Subjects: environment, asian environment, environmental sociology


EE, ESD and CCE are still relatively new topics in schools globally, and for this reason we should not expect to find in China clear metrics for the measurement of their efficacy. In this chapter, we consider three different approaches to measurement: examinations, expert judgments, and survey research. We first ask whether China’s examinations, and in particular the zhongkao and dakao, can be used to assess whether environmental education programming has been effective. Dr Wang Min, Professor of Geography at Beijing Normal University, is of the opinion that these examinations can provide sufficient data for assessment purposes. We explore the logic of his argument below. Second, we review the observations of more than two dozen specialists and experts on environmental education in China. They comment on the environmental awareness of secondary school students, the proficiency of secondary school teachers in EE, and the pivotal role that geography plays in secondary school EE. They make observations as well on measurement issues and the legal status of EE. Finally, we present results of a number of surveys taken that extend beyond students to the general public. The topics of the surveys include environmental awareness, seriousness of environmental problems, knowledge and perceptions regarding environmental responsibility, satisfaction with environmental protection and the like. The record of surveys begins in 2000, and they represent studies done in single provinces, regions and China nationally. By its nature, environmental education is more difficult to measure than virtually any other school subject.

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