Determining the Effective Indicators on Environmental Teaching to Achieve Sustainable Development and Rank the Universities: A Case Study of the state Universities in Tehran

Document Type : Research Paper


Faculty of Governance, University of Tehran




In this study, we aimed to highlight the importance and role of higher education in acquainting students to better understand and protect the environment for sustainable development goals. In this regard, we investigated the effect of the background components including social and cultural factors, the attitude of academic progress and also the quality of higher education on the environmental education of students in the Tehran’s universities. Our results with a TOPSIS value greater than 0.5 revealed that although there were some differences among the Tehran’s universities with respect to the investigated components, most students of the universities were familiar with the environmental knowledge. Our results ranked the University of Tehran as the first university associated with the student familiarity with the environmental knowledge. According to the Pearson correlation coefficient extracted in the SPSS software environment, we found that there was a proper correlation between the selected indicators, where the environmental education index showed the highest correlation with the cultural factors (correlation coefficient of 0.898. Our findings indicated the importance of inclusion of sustainability performance indicators in the ranking of higher education. It can provide the possibility of measuring progress in promoting sustainability in various aspects, increase transparency, and facilitate the university’s commitment to the environmental goals, a finding that is inline our findings.

Materials and Methods

This research evaluates the contextual factors of social assets, cultural assets, educational development approaches and also the level of quality of higher education in environmental studies inside universities situated in the city of Tehran. The aim of this research is practical, and the descriptive method is analytical and survey. The population which was studied were the students of universities located in the city of Tehran, who were 165981 people, and 383 were selected based on relative class method and Cochran formula. A questionnaire was deployed to measure the components, and the validity of the indicators was acknowledged by utilizing the opinion of the professors and experts in this field, and the reliability of its components is checked by Cronbach’s alpha method, maintaining a proper alpha. Data analysis was carried out using Pearson’s correlation coefficient and analysis of variance; the results are as follows. There is a significant relationship between the motivation indicators of academic progress, social and cultural factors and the quality of higher education and environmental education; in which the cultural factor has a significance level of 0.004, having the highest effect on environmental education (dependent variable). Overall, 84.5% of changes in environmental education (dependent variable) are elaborated by the independent variables. In this research, TOPSIS model was applied to rank universities in terms of research indicators.

Results and Discussion

According to the outcomes of the present research, the importance and the role of education on students’ environmental attitudes and the importance of sustainable development in Iran has been clearly demonstrated.

The results of this research and the TOPSIS values above 0.5 in most universities, in the index of attitude toward the environment, portray the fact that the students of universities situated in the city of Tehran have a proper understanding toward environment. The results of this study show that the knowledge and awareness of university students toward the environment is at a relatively favorable level. In addition, the results of the table extracted from Pearson’s correlation coefficient in SPSS software show that there is a proper correlation between the selected indicator. Meanwhile, the index of environmental education has established the highest correlation with the indices of cultural factors with a correlation of 0.898, which illustrates the importance of this index. Also, there is a significant relationship between socio-cultural characteristics and the level of environmental awareness, and the greatest effect is related to social communication at the local and rural level. Cultural factors play a crucial role in the behavior of people in society, and the environmental behavior of individuals is derived from these vital factors. Last but not least, after the cultural factors, motivation for academic progress (0.251), quality of higher education (0.130) and social factors (-0.127) are indicated. The lowest correlation and relationship is allocated to social factors with the correlation of (-0.127).


Environmental education is defined by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a learning process that increases people’s awareness and knowledge about the environment and related challenges. Environmental education expands the skills and expertise necessary to face challenges and cultivates the attitude, motivation and commitments that lead to the formation of informed decisions and responsible actions. This educational process helps the global community to adapt to new behaviors, especially in the protection and use of natural resources that are important for human development and survival. According to the conducted studies, one of the most important problems and obstacles in the field of environmental protection in Iran is the lack of awareness and sufficient information among all layers of society. Therefore, environmental awareness and knowledge of students, as one of the most important indicators of national civility, reflects many aspects of the environmental situation, and the importance of environmental education in Iran is noted, which has special conditions. Universities can play a vital role in social change processes that rely on training new generations of citizens and leaders, and therefore; all scientific disciplines need to participate in preparing society for a sustainable and better future. In today’s world, everyone agrees that education is the most effective tool and method to face future challenges, especially environmental protection. Global warming, ozone layer hole, polar ice melting, and rapid climate change are some of the environmental challenges that emphasize the importance of environmental education in society and university. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the role of educational achievement attitude components, social and cultural factors, as well as the quality of the higher education process on the environmental attitudes of students in Tehran’s universities. We also answered to this question that “What is the impact of cultural and social factors, the quality of higher education, and the motivation for academic achievement on the environmental education?”.


Main Subjects

Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 24 June 2023
  • Receive Date: 15 April 2023
  • Revise Date: 17 June 2023
  • Accept Date: 24 June 2023