30 SES 04 A, Whole School Approach to ESD /ESE. Case Studies and Network Development
Perhaps the most important issue in our time is how to sustain our planet’s resources, while increasing the well-being of a growing population. This monumental task has been defined in the concept of sustainable development. In response, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has been launched as a teaching approach to address this challenge (UNESCO, 2014). The underlying idea is that ESD empowers young people with action competence (Mogensen & Schnack, 2010), and thus in the long run, contribute to transforming the world into a more sustainable place (Lotz-Sitiska, Wals, Kronlid, & McGarry, 2015). According to the UNESCO’s (2014) Global Action Program (GAP), all levels of the school organization should be included in the process implementing ESD in educational practices (so-called whole school approach).
School experiences a clear need for supportive methodologies that can provide formative input about the ESD implementation processes. The proposed study is a part of a larger longitudinal research project in one urban municipality in Sweden, on the whole school implementation approach of ESD; diverse school actors (students, teachers and school leaders) work together towards a common goal. This current study will develop and validate an instrument to measure a crucial outcome of ESD, and as such a possible measure for implementation success: students’ self-perceived action competence. This instrument can then be used to analyze if, and in what ways the schools’ development processes contribute to (longitudinal) effects on students’ ESD outcomes.
Action competence has been described as an educational approach in the Danish health and environmental education research (Breiting & Mogensen, 1999; Jensen & Schnack, 1997; Mogensen & Schnack, 2010). The definition of action competence aligns perfectly with how learning in the context ESD is described in literature (Mogensen & Schnack, 2010). To empower students with action competence for sustainable development is proposed as the ideal goal of ESD (UNESCO, 2014), but the question arise then how to measure an educational ideal? According to Mogensen and Schnack (2010) it impossible to operationalize a measure of what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ action competence. However, aspects of action competence for sustainable development have been described as covariations between knowledge of action possibilities, confidence in one’s own influence and the willingness to act (e.g Breiting & Mogensen, 1999). These aspects are possible to operationalize and to analyze as self-perceived outcomes on a student level (Breiting et al., 2009). Moreover, the aspects have support as educational aims in the Swedish curriculum (Almers, 2013). Furthermore, Bamberg and Möser (2007) found that self-perceived intention to act is a strong mediator for personal environmental and sustainability actions. Empirical studies are a missing link in the discourse around ESD outcomes where implementation strategies are commonly based on policy recommendations and practitioners’ gut feelings (Scott, 2013). A valid and reliable measurement instrument for individuals’ self-perceived action competence can help fill this gap.
There are many scholars in the field of environmental and sustainability education research using adapted instruments for evaluation of implementation outcomes on a student level (e.g. Berglund, Gericke, & Chang Rundgren, 2014; Boeve-de Pauw, Gericke, Olsson, & Berglund, 2015; Goldman, Pe’er & Yavetz, 2017; Liefländer, Bogner, Kibbe, & Kaiser, 2015; Olsson, Gericke, & Chang Rundgren, 2016;). Though, an instrument that explicitly means to tap into the concept of action competence as an outcome of ESD is, so far, a missing link. In this study, we will therefore introduce and validate a new instrument: the on Self-Perceived Action Competence questionnaire (SPAC), that has the ability to empirically evaluate ESD implementation processes through action competence as an ESD outcome on the level of students.
In collaboration with a Swedish urban municipality, a teacher professional development (TPD) program was designed to support schools in their ESD implementation process. The design of this TPD-program was presented at the previous ECER conference in Copenhagen, 2017. The TPD is designed for a larger longitudinal research project, of which the current study is a part. In this specific study, student outcomes (from grades 6-12) will be studied in terms of their self-perceived action competence by collecting survey data through a longitudinal cross-sequential design (see Little, 2013, p. 38). Since the first baseline data was collected in May 2017 it was important for us to evaluate the construct validity before further use of the instrument (one data collection in the beginning of each semester until five or six measure occasions are reached). In the first measurement occasion 614 students aged 12-19 participated. The SPAC item battery was developed based on the definition of action competence made by Danish researchers (Jensen & Schnack, 2007; Breiting & Mogensen, 1999). Based on this, we built a higher order SEM model to validate our new SPAC through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). In our model, the factor of student self-perceived action competence (SPAC) is constituted of three main parts: (KAP) knowledge of action possibilities, (COI) confidence in one's own influence, and (WTA) a wish to act. The three first order latent constructs KAP, COI and WTA are respectively covered by four indicator variables (or statements). The participants gave their responses on a five point Likert-scale (totally disagree to totally agree) to each of the twelve statements. Data was analyzed using Structural equation modeling (SEM) and the software Mplus (Muthen and Muthen, 2015). Given the categorical nature of the data, the weighted least squares mean and variance, WLSMV estimator was used with delta parameterization (constraining the total latent-item-response variance to 1; (Muthén & Muthén, 2015). The SEM analyses were estimated through a multi-level approach, with the hierarchical dependency of the errors corrected through the Mplus type=complex command (students clustered in schools). To estimate model fit common fit indices were used; Tucker Lewis Index (TLI), Comparative Fit Index (CFI) and Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA). The results of the CFA are presented in the next section along with means and standard deviations for each item and factor.
The model (consisting of three times four items tapping in to each of the first order latent variables KAP, COI and WTA, which compose SPAC as a latent second order factor) was validated with a good model fit, CFI= .989, TLI=.986, and RMSEA=.058. All the items contributed to the overall model fit in a good way. Means and standard deviations for each item and factor are presented below. KAP: 1. I can see different points of view on issues when people think differently. 3.91±1.087 2. I know how one should take action at school in order to contribute to sustainable development. 3.59±1.115 3. I know how one should take action at home in order to contribute to sustainable development. 3.95±1.019 4. I know how one should interact with others in order to contribute to sustainable development in society. 3.74±1.048 COI: I believe... 5. …I can influence global sustainable development through my actions. 3.51±1.265 6. …I can influence sustainable development in my community. 3.57±1.198 7. …I have good opportunities for taking part in influencing our shared future. 3.48±1.222 8. …what each person does matters for sustainable development. 4.04±1.131 WTA: I want … 9. ...to take action for sustainable development in my community. 3.59±1.194 10. ...to take action for global sustainable development. 3.73±1.155 11. ...to engage in changing society towards sustainable development. 3.42±1.201 12. ...schoolwork to be about how we can shape a sustainable future together. 3.43±1.259 SPAC (KAP+COI+WTA): 3.66±.8016 Based on these findings, we argue that the SPAC is a valid and reliable instrument that could be good to use for formative input to whole school ESD development processes. However, at ECER in Bolzano, we invite to discussions on the relation between self-perceived action competence and action competence as an educational ideal, and benefits and shortcomings of our SPAC questionnaire.
Almers, E. (2013). Pathways to action competence for sustainability-Six themes. The Journal of Environmental Education, 44(2), 116-127. Bamberg, S., & Möser, G. (2007). Twenty years after Hines, Hungerford, and Tomera: A new meta-analysis of psycho-social determinants of pro-environmental behaviour. Journal of environmental psychology, 27(1), 14-25. Berglund, T., N. Gericke, and S.-N. Chang Rundgren. (2014). The Implementation of Education for Sustainable Development in Sweden: Investigating the Sustainability Consciousness among Upper Secondary Students. Research in Science & Technological Education 32 (3): 318-339. Breiting, S., Hedegaard, K., Mogensen, F., Nielsen, K., & Schnack, K. (2009). Action competence, conflicting interests and environmental education: The MUVIN Programme. DPU (Danish School of Education), Copengen. Breiting, S., & Mogensen, F. (1999). Action competence and environmental education. Cambridge Journal of Education, 29(3), 349-353. Boeve‐de Pauw, J. Gericke, N., Olsson, D., & Berglund, T. (2015). The Effectiveness of Education for Sustainable Development. Sustainability, 7, 15693-15717. DOI:10.3390/su71115693 Goldman, D., Pe'er, S., & Yavetz, B. (2017). Environmental literacy of youth movement members-is environmentalism a component of their social activism?. Environmental Education Research, 23(4), 486-514. Jensen, B. B., & Schnack, K. (1997). The action competence approach in environmental education. Environmental education research, 3(2), 163-178. Liefländer, A. K., Bogner, F. X., Kibbe, A., & Kaiser, F. G. (2015). Evaluating environmental knowledge dimension convergence to assess educational programme effectiveness. International Journal of Science Education, 37(4), 684-702. Little, T. D. (2013). Longitudinal structural equation modeling. New York: Guilford Press. Lotz-Sisitka, H., Wals, A.E., Kronlid, D. and McGarry, D. (2015). ´Transformative, transgressive social learning: rethinking higher education pedagogy in times of systemic global dysfunction´. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 16 (17): 73-80. Mogensen, F & Schnack, K. (2010). The action competence approach and the 'new' discourse of education for sustainable development, competence and quality criteria. Environmental Education Research, 16(1), 59-74. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2015). Mplus User's Guide: Statistical Analysis with Latent Variables: User's Guide. Seventh Edition. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén. Olsson, D., Gericke, N., & Chang-Rundgren, S-N. (2016). The effect of implementation of education for sustainable development in Swedish compulsory schools - assessing pupils' sustainability consciousness. Environmental Education Research, 22(2), 176-202. Scott, W. (2013). Developing the Sustainable School: Thinking the Issues Through. The Curriculum Journal, 24 (2): 181-205. UNESCO. (2014). Unesco Roadmap for Implementation the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Paris: UNESCO
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