30 SES 14 A, Action Competence in Education for Sustainable Development
The aim of this symposium is to illuminate perspectives of action competence in education for sustainable development and thereby contribute to a more operational understanding and use of theconcept in the environmental and sustainability education research community. The concept of action competence in environmental and sustainability education research has been around for more than two decades. Originally, the concept was described as an educational ideal to empower people with knowledge of action possibilities, confidence in one´s own influence and the willingness to act for sustainable development (Breiting & Mogensen, 1999; Jensen & Schnack, 1997). The notion of action competence has been frequently used in research practice and has over the years developed and given rise to different views (Bonazzi Piasentin & Roberts, 2018). The concept could be considered to be seen as both an educational approach focusing on sustainability and as an outcome of education for sustainable development among individuals (e.g. Clark, 2016; Ellis & Weekes, 2008; Mogensen & Schnack, 2010). Evaluation of sustainability education efforts and programs is important in order to fine-tune the initiatives that are aimed to strengthening students’ action competence for sustainable development (e.g. see Cincera et al. 2018).However, there is an ambiguity in how action competence as a concept could be operationalized into useful instruments in research (Olsson, 2018). In the light of this background the symposium will contribute three different perspectives of action competence in education for sustainable development.
In the first, Belgian, contribution we aim to present a further conceptualization of action competence in education for sustainable development, where we elaborate on the meaning of actionand competence. Furthermore, we describe two contexts of action competence. The first concerns action competence as a competence of (groups of) individuals focusing on sustainability issues. The second concerns the professional educational action competence as teachers’ competence in implementing education for sustainable development in their school.
In the second, Swedish, contribution we will zoom in on the operationalization of a new scale aiming to capture the development of self-perceived action competence among students. The new scale could be usedto develop and evaluate education for sustainable development processes and implementation strategies. By the time of the ECER conference we will be able to present the reliability and validity of the scale that covers issues of action competence for sustainable development based on its definition (Jensen & Schnack, 1997; Breiting & Mogensen; 1999). Data from the new scale will be cross-validated with another instrument as well as with Belgian data.
In the final, Czech, contribution we aim to give insight in the use of the concept of action competence in the research practice by looking into evaluation studies of the eco-school program. Several possible interpretations for the program will be described. These interpretations include the emancipatory, student-centeredapproach aiming to develop students’ action competence. Moreover, the students’ perceived satisfaction with the eco-school program will be discussed in relation to the participation in shaping the program and the question of the power to involve uninvolved students.
Through the three contributions in this symposium we present further conceptualization, operationalization and interpretation of the action competence concept in education for sustainable development. We invite the discussant and the audience at the ECER conference in Hamburg to share their thoughts on the presented perspectives to further contribute to the research discourse on action competence.
Bonazzi Piasentin, F. & Roberts, L. (2018). What elements in a sustainability course contribute to paradigm change and action competence? Environmental Education Research, 24(5), 694-715. Breiting, S., & Mogensen, F. (1999). Action competence and environmental education. Cambridge Journal of Education, 29(3), 349-353. Cincera, J., Boeve-de Pauw, J., Goldman, D., & Simonova, P. (2018 in press). Emancipatory or instrumental? Students’ and teachers’ perception of the EcoSchool program. Environmental Education Research, doi: 10.1080/13504622.2018.1506911 Clark, C.R. (2016). Collective action competence: an asset to campus sustainability, I.J.Sust.Higher Ed., 17(4), 559-578. Ellis, G., Weekes, T. (2008). Making sustainability ‘real’: using group‐enquiry to promote education for sustainable development, Environmental Education Research, 14(4), 482-500. Jensen, B. B., & Schnack, K. (1997). The action competence approach in environmental education. Environmental education research, 3(2), 163-178. Mogensen, F., & Schnack, K. (2010). The action competence approach and the ‘new’ discourses of education for sustainable development, competence and quality criteria. Environmental Education Research, 16(1), 59-74. Olsson, D. (2018). Student Sustainability Consciousness. Doctoral Thesis. Karlstad University Studies.
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