30 SES 03 A, Developing and Measuring ESE/ESD Learning Outcomes
Introduction and research questions
Since The UN declared the period of 2005-2014 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), various educational domains, such as environmental (EE) and global citizenship education (GCE) have focused on sustainability and how to support students and teachers in order to achieve sustainable development goals. Even though EE and GCE cover different domains, they both advocate transformative educational practices that aim to instil in students the ability to recognize and accept alternative norms and lifestyles instead of pushing students towards social reproduction and uncritical attitudes (Audigier, 2000; Jickling & Wals, 2008). This pluralistic educational approach aims at promoting democratic action competence (AC; Davies, 2006). Hence, ESD can be understood as both a widening of the content of EE and a form of GCE (Rudsberg & Öhman, 2010). There certainly is an increased focus on sustainable development (SD) in education internationally. The next step to take now is research into the effectiveness of ESD (UNESCO, 2017) and teachers’ professional competence for ESD (Andersson, Jagers, Lindskog, & Martinsson, 2013). Teachers’ professional action competence (AC) may add to successful implementation of ESD-appropriate educational practices (Bertschy, Künzli, & Lehman, 2013). Consequently, there is a need for measurement of teachers’ professional AC for ESD. Moreover, this could help to assess the effectiveness of the necessary ESD professional development programmes for teachers (TPD). In order to monitor changes in teachers’ AC for ESD throughout participation in a TPD programme, valid and reliable measurement instruments are needed. This is exactly the focus of the current study: we aim to operationalize teachers’ professional AC for ESD along three latent variables, i.e. willingness, knowledge of action possibilities, and self-efficacy for teaching according to ESD principles. Our central research question therefore is: How can teachers’ professional action competence for ESD be measured?
Mogensen & Schnack (2010) define AC as ‘the ability and willingness to take action’. This concept is further conceptualised for professional teacher action competence by Bertschy et al. (2013), as the interaction of teachers’ willingness to teach ESD and their knowledge and ability to do so. These concepts will be briefly discussed.
Willingness. Since motivation and commitment are required for knowledge to turn into action (Jensen, 1997; 2000), these dimensions can be used to further conceptualise willingness. To this effect we draw on different theoretical models. Firstly, Vallerand (2015) defines passion as a specific type of motivation. Moeller (2014) broadens this idea adding the concept of commitment to passion when studying people’s drive to act. Secondly, Ajzen’s (1991) Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) defines behavioural intention as an indication of willingness. These insights will form the basis for the operationalisation of teachers’ willingness to implement ESD in their practice.
Ability. Ability consists of a self-efficacy and a knowledge component (Breiting & Mogensen, 1999). The concept of self-efficacy resonates with Ajzen’s TPB, more particularly in the perceived behavioural control dimension, which he describes as people’s confidence in their ability to perform (Ajzen, 1991). When applied to teachers’ professional action competence it thus refers to teachers’ self-efficacy for ESD. The knowledge component comprises action possibilities and change strategies (Boeve-de Pauw, Gericke, Olsson, and Berglund, 2015; Breiting and Mogensen, 1999). Bertschy et al. (2013) see this knowledge of action possibilities in teachers’ practices as pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Pedagogical and substantive content knowledge have both been proven to be an important requisite for quality teaching (Hattie, 2009). Thus, ability in terms of teachers’ action competence for ESD can be conceptualised as teachers’ perceived self-efficacy and their knowledge of action possibilities in ESD.
Respondents are teachers in primary and secondary education. This variation is especially interesting since it comprises different classroom contexts. In primary school a class teacher is responsible for teaching all subjects, whereas in secondary education teachers are specialists responsible for a specific subject. Based on a literature study, we start with the selection of relevant items from existing measuring scales for the three latent variables (willingness, knowledge of action possibilities, and self-efficacy). Examples of such scales are: the Commitment Passion Scale (Moeller, 2014), the TPB Scale (Ajzen, 2006), Self-efficacy scales (e.g. Evans, Tomas-Engel, & Woods, 2016), scales measuring (perceived) knowledge of ESD (e.g. Borg, Gericke, Höglund, & Bergman, 2014) and instruments measuring teachers’ PCK for AC. These existing items are adapted and complemented with newly designed items if necessary. The initially created questionnaire will consist of at least ten items for each of the five subscales, i.e. (1) commitment/passion, (2) behavioural intent, (3) PCK, (4) conceptual understanding of ESD, and (5) self-efficacy (Field, Miles, & Field, 2012), totalling minimally 50 items. To further check the content validity of the AC instrument, the list of items will be discussed in focus groups with 6 to 8 teachers (Vogt, King & King, 2004). We opt for a focus group because discussion amongst these teachers allows for elaboration of thoughts (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2011). Furthermore, cognitive interviews with five teachers will enable us to identify remaining problems with interpretation of questionnaire items (Willis, 2005). Then, to check for construct validity, the questionnaire will be administered to 300 teachers in primary and secondary education in order to analyse the psychometrics of the questionnaire. Since this questionnaire is informed by well-established conceptualisations of AC, we opt for confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) with the purpose of optimising the number items to four per subscale. Internal consistency is assessed calculating Cronbach’s alpha.
At the ECER conference we will present a validated and reliable measuring instrument for teachers’ professional action competence in education for sustainable development. We expect to find a measuring scale consisting of three dimensions: willingness, knowledge of action possibilities, and self-efficacy. These may show subscales per dimension, such as commitment/passion and behavioural intent (willingness), pedagogical content knowledge and conceptual understanding of ESD (knowledge of action possibilities), and perception of one’s own capability (self-efficacy). Resulting in a measuring scale for teacher professional AC for ESD consisting of about 20 items, i.e. four per subscale. This measuring instrument will provide one of the quantitative measures for a pilot study among in-service teachers in the context of the VALIES project that studies the effects of an ESD TPD on teachers’ classroom practices. Furthermore, the instrument combines insights from various domains, i.e. EE and GCE, which can provide a starting point for research into a generic understanding of teachers’ professional action competence, focusing on domains other than EE, GCE or ESD.
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