University of Oulu

Chen, M.; Jeronen, E.; Wang, A. Toward Environmental Sustainability, Health, and Equity: How the Psychological Characteristics of College Students Are Reflected in Understanding Sustainable Development Goals. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 8217.

Toward environmental sustainability, health, and equity : how the psychological characteristics of college students are reflected in understanding sustainable development goals

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Author: Chen, Meiai1; Jeronen, Eila2; Wang, Anming3
Organizations: 1School of Landscape Architecture, Zhejiang A & F University, Hangzhou 311300, China
2Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, University of Oulu, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
3College of Materials, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou 311121, China
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-09-03


This study aimed to identify how the psychological characteristics of college students are reflected in understanding sustainable development goals (SDGs) by examining college students’ psychological characteristics, including attitude, interests, motivations, and self-efficacy, through the Sustainable Development Goals Psychological Inventory (SDGPI). The relationships among SDGs attitude, SDGs interest, SDGs motivation, and SDGs self-efficacy were analyzed by Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients. In addition, the Mann-Whitney U test and Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance were used to explore the differences among the college student groups in terms of gender, grade, and major in relation to attitude and personal characteristics. Attitude scores based on regression analysis were used to predict college students’ interest, motivation, and self-efficacy in relation to the SDGs. According to the results, (a) the college students considered the three most important SDGs to be good health and well-being (SDG 3) (49.72%), quality education (SDG 4) (41.39%), and no poverty (SDG 1) (32.22%), while the three least important SDGs were decent work and economic growth (SDG 8) (41.11%), partnerships for the goals (SDG 17) (38.06%), and response consumption and institutions (SDG 12) (30.83%); (b) the SDGPI had a high reliability, with a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.942; (c) there was a significant positive correlation between attitude and the variables of interest, motivation, and self-efficacy; (d) differences in attitudes, interest, and motivation between men and women were distinct and women scored much higher in these three subscales than men; (e) attitude could explain significant variance in interest, motivation and self-efficacy. In addition, attitude, interest, and motivation could account for self-efficacy. This study supports the development of sustainability education (SE) at the college level by providing new insights into college students’ psychological characteristics in relation to the SDGs.

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Series: International journal of environmental research and public health
ISSN: 1661-7827
ISSN-E: 1660-4601
ISSN-L: 1661-7827
Volume: 18
Article number: 8217
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18158217
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Funding: This study was supported by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China under Grant (14YJCZH010), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (22078079), and the Classroom Teaching Reform Project for Higher Education in Zhejiang Province (jg20190389).
Copyright information: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (