22 SES 09 D, New Perspectives to Learning
The concept of sustainability is controversial, complex, and difficult to define and measure, and has varied meanings for different people and practices. Given the complex nature of sustainability, there is limited availability of paradigmatic frameworks to guide educators in assessing learners’ sustainability related attitudes and behaviours. This paper introduces the Dispositions, Abilities and Behaviours (DAB) framework, which influenced the design of an intervention in 2013–2014 that profiled the sustainability related attitudes and behaviours of undergraduate students in a higher education institution. The results of the mixed methods study indicate that the DAB framework has good potential for use by educators in profiling students’ sustainability-related abilities, attitudes and actions within higher education settings.
Profiling University Undergraduate Learners' Sustainability Attitudes and Behaviours.
The purpose of integrating sustainability in higher education programmes is to enable students develop skills, aptitudes and behaviours to improve the quality of life on this planet while building fair, equitable and just futures for all. To effectively do this, the knowledge, skills, dispositions, attitudes and behaviours of higher education undergraduate students need to be re-oriented towards sustainability. The purpose of this study was to devise a tool that could be used to profile the sustainability related attitudes and behaviours of undergraduate students in a higher education context. It is important to note that the remit of this study did not extend to uncovering reasons as to why learners undertook certain actions to promote sustainability, but rather to create a tool capable of generating a profile of learners’ attitudes and behaviours at a particular point in time in the course of their university studies. The premise was that, if such a tool could be developed, then it could be utilised in future studies to identify the extent to which the sustainability-profiles of cohorts of students change over time in particular programmes of study in higher education. This could be used by future researchers to identify courses that are successfully fostering sustainability and to make choices of appropriate pedagogic processes that could help learners translate their sustainability abilities, skills and knowledge into concrete actions taken to promote sustainability.
The Concept of Sustainability
The concept of sustainability is controversial with no universally acceptable definition. Generally sustainability is conceived as the ability to maintain something for a long time at a specific rate or level. It is an undefined set of ideals which allow people and other living and non-living things to have dignity and satisfaction and for human actions to be geared towards protecting the environment, fostering societal justice, economic prosperity and equity and promoting cultural vitality and diversity (Besong & Holland, 2015).
The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) report, also called the Brundtland Report, “Our Common Future”, defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED, 1987, p. 43). Since then, the concept of sustainable development has caught global attention, giving rise to a widening of the discourse of the concept with many definitions (Mebratu, 1998). This study focuses on this UN definition of the concept, which is widely accepted globally.
Education for Sustainability and Sustainability Related Behaviours.
Education is crucial in fostering the ideals of sustainability. ESD is a process of learning how to make decisions that consider the long-term futures of the economy, ecology, the equitable development of all communities as well as the promotion of their cultures. ESD enables people to develop abilities, competencies and attitudes that can be translated into actions(behaviours) to promote sustainability and lead to improved quality of life now without destroying the environment for the future.
References. Besong, F. A. & Holland, C. (2015) The Dispositions, Abilities and Behaviours (DAB) framework for profiling learners’ sustainability competencies in higher education. Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability. (17), 1: 5-22. Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson. Golafshani, N. (2003). Understanding reliability and validity in qualitative research. The Qualitative Report, 8(4), 597-606. Greene, J. C., Caracelli, V. J., & Graham, W. F. (1989). Towards a conceptual framework for mixed-method evaluation designs. Journal of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.11, 255-274. Mebratu, D. (1998)sustainability and sustainable development:Historical and conceptual review. Environmental Impact Assessment Review. 18, 493-520.
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