30 SES 01 B, Didactical perspectives in ESE
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) intends to prepare learners of all ages to become empowered in dealing with ecological, social, technical and economic challenges in a globalised society. The concept of sustainable development, especially as it has been relaunched through the Global Action Plan (UNESCO, 2013), challenges education in a way which requires inter- and transdisciplinary approaches for educational contexts. In this interdisciplinary challenge, environmental issues are increasingly affected by socio-economic discourses and related to ethical, economic and political problems. Consequently, evaluating complex issues becomes an important precondition for a sustainable future. Against this background, “engaging learners as active agents in thinking about and constructing knowledge about the need for and the ways of developing a more sustainable and equitable quality of life on a global scale” (Dillon & Stevenson, 2010, p. 3) becomes an essential educational goal. This addresses the competence of evaluating and reasoning regarding conflicts of interests and dilemmas of a societal transformation process.
Acquiring a proper capacity for political judgement is an educational goal in civic education classrooms and beyond. In the context of ESD, enabling learners to identify less sustainable production methods or habits of consumption is insufficient in the face of complexity, uncertainty and necessity (Scott & Gough, 2003; Van Poeck & Vandenadeele, 2012). In contemporary discourses on Environmental Education and ESD, environmental issues are perceived increasingly as ethical and political problems with conflicts between opposing interests (Sund & Öhman, 2014). Moreover, several studies on learning in ESD settings reveal the discrepancy between knowing and acting (Asbrand 2009; Holfelder, 2017; Wettstädt & Asbrand, 2014) and raise awareness for addressing learners as political subjects.
Aim and research questions
According to these contemporary demands and in the light of a socio-economic approach in ESD, the aim of the study is to examine adolescents’ reasoning and judgment about complex problems in sustainable development in class. Therefore, a learning unit about modern agriculture that involves out-of-school learning has been developed for secondary school. In this unit, students explore systemic causes, socio-political cleavages, and societal conditions of a socio-ecological transformation. Within a two-month period the students deal with the causes of the problem, the involved parties and political interests. Due to the transdisciplinary approach, they get in touch with farmers and a critical consumers initiative. In this confrontation with controversial arguments and interpretations, the focus is on the individual formation of opinion. The study should provide answers to the following research questions:
- To what extent does the learning unit with out-of-school encounters encourage processes of reasoning? Which impact has the out-of-school arrangement?
- To what extent do the out-of-school encounters stimulate or counteract students’ perspective taking? To what extent do the learners integrate, coordinate and reflect on the introduced societal perspectives?
- How can the processes of reasoning be characterized in context of ESD-issues between the priorities of economy and ecology? What patterns can be reconstructed in students’ statements regarding the dealing with complexity and ambiguity?
To answer the above-mentioned questions, quantitative and qualitative research methods are used. The learning unit was evaluated in an intervention study involving questionnaires, argumentation tests and group discussions. To examine the effects of the learning unit, a quasi-experimental study with control-group design was conducted. So far one class of 11th graders (N = 19) in secondary school in Lower Saxony received a standardized political learning unit with out-of-school encounters regarding modern agriculture, sustainability and globalised markets (6x90 min.). Class discussions and group discussions were held over the duration of the project to enable a deeper analysis of specific learning processes between the times of measurement. To examine the long-term effects on meaning making, qualitative interviews were conducted six weeks after the learning unit had ended. In February 2019 the learning unit will be conducted without out-of-school encounters (approx. N = 25) to compare the groups and understand the impact of out-of-school educational settings. A quantitative and qualitative evaluation will be performed through analysis of argumentation (Kuhn & Udell, 2007; Petrik, 2011) and statistical methods.
Further data collection and statistical analyses will be conducted between February 2019 and March 2019. So far, the results of the argumentation analysis indicate a coexistence of a high moral motivation and experiencing political powerlessness in adolescents when facing systemic relationships. Values and interests are seen as opposed to each other, which indicates difficulties faced by the learners to form a meaningful and also action-enabling judgement. Regarding the decoding of the out-of-school encounters in its political significance for socio-ecological transformation, the analysis suggests that the perception of and learning from these encounters varied depending on value orientation and social background.
Asbrand, B. (2009). Wissen und Handeln in der Weltgesellschaft. Eine qualitativ-rekonstruktive Studie zum Globalen Lernen in der Schule und in der außerschulischen Jugendarbeit [Knowledge and action in the world society. A qualitative-reconstructive study on global education in school and out-of-school youth work]. Münster: Waxmann. Dillon J. & Stevenson, R. (2010). Engaging Environmental Education: Learning, Culture and Agency. Rotterdam: Sense. Holfelder, A.-K. (2017). Orientierungen von Jugendlichen zu Nachhaltigkeitsthemen: Zur didaktischen Bedeutung von implizitem Wissen im Kontext BNE [Orientations of young people on sustainability issues – on the didactic significance of tacit knowledge in the context of ESD]. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Kuhn, D. & Udell, W. (2007). Coordinating own and other perspectives in argument. Thinking and Reasoning, 13(2), 90-104. Petrik, A. (2011). Argumentationsanalyse: Methode zur politikdidaktischen Rekonstruktion der Konfliktlösungs- und Urteilskompetenz [Argumentation analysis: a method for reconstructing competencies in conflict resolution and judgment in political education]. In B. Zurstrassen (Ed.), Was ist los im Klassenzimmer? Diagnostik, Evaluation und Erforschung des sozialwissenschaftlichen Unterrichts (pp. 108-128). Schwalbach/Ts.: Wochenschau. Riß, K. & Overwien, B. (2010). Globalisierung und politische Bildung [Globalisation and political education]. In B. Lösch & A. Thimmel (Eds.), Kritische politische Bildung. Ein Handbuch (pp. 205-216). Schwalbach/Ts.: Wochenschau. Scott, W. & Gough, S. (2003). Sustainable development and learning: Framing the issues. London: Falmer. Sund, L. & Öhman, J. (2014). On the need to repoliticise environmental and sustainability education: rethinking the postpolitical consensus. Environmental Education Research, 20(5), 639-659. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2005). Proposal for a Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development as follow-up to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) after 2014. General Conference 37th Session, Paris. 37 C/57. Van Poeck, K. & Vandenadeele, J. (2012). Learning from sustainable development: education in the light of public issues. Environmental Education Research, 18(4), 541-552. Wettstädt, L. & Asbrand, B. (2014). Handeln in der Weltgesellschaft. Zum Umgang mit Handlungsaufforderungen im Unterricht zu Themen des Lernbereichs Globale Entwicklung. [Acting in a globalized society. Invitations to act in lessons on topics of global education]. Zeitschrift für Internationale Bildungsforschung und Entwicklungspädagogik, 37(1), 4-12.
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