30 SES 16 A, Assessing Key Competencies In Higher Education For Sustainable Development
Despite the clear need, the published record on assessment of key competencies in sustainability is so far quite limited. One of the more coherent efforts was the case study approach deployed over several years by Remington-Doucette and colleagues (Remington‐Doucette, Hiller Connell, Armstrong, & Musgrove, 2013). The more common approach has been more along the lines of a self-assessment (Savage, Tapics, Evarts, Wilson, & Tirone, 2015) and while some are quite critical of its usefulness and validity (Sandri, Holdsworth, & Thomas, 2018), others think that self-assessment can be useful if carefully developed (Galt, Parr, & Jagannath, 2013; Khaled et al., 2014). Interviews, focus groups, reflections and assessment of class work are some of the other ways that researchers have attempted to assess the competencies among their students. For this research an online multiple choice instrument was developed specifically focused on the key competencies in sustainability as described by Wiek and colleagues (2011). This assessment was designed to be fairly easy to implement and require minimal time from students (average was ~30 minutes). Students were recruited from a range of programs and educational levels in order to understand the range, scope and potential of this approach to compare level of competence development. In addition a sub-set of students who were participating in a course targeting the key sustainability competencies took the assessment before and after. Results suggest that this approach provides insight only to a crude level of competence development and more so at the group/cohort level rather than the individual level. It is therefore insufficient for measuring changes as might be expected for the course of a semester. Future directions and possibilities will also be discussed.
Galt, R. E., Parr, D., & Jagannath, J. (2013). Facilitating competency development in sustainable agriculture and food systems education: a self-assessment approach. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 11(1), 69–88. Khaled, A. E., Gulikers, J. T. M., Tobi, H., Biemans, H. J. A., Oonk, C., & Mulder, M. (2014). Exploring the Validity and Robustness of a Competency Self-Report Instrument for Vocational and Higher Competence-Based Education. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 32(5), 429–440. Remington‐Doucette, S. M., Hiller Connell, K. Y., Armstrong, C. M., & Musgrove, S. L. (2013). Assessing sustainability education in a transdisciplinary undergraduate course focused on real‐world problem solving. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 14(4), 404–433. Sandri, O., Holdsworth, S., & Thomas, I. (2018). Vignette question design for the assessment of graduate sustainability learning outcomes. Environmental Education Research, 24(3), 406–426. Savage, E., Tapics, T., Evarts, J., Wilson, J., & Tirone, S. (2015). Experiential Learning for Sustainability Leadership in Higher Education. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 16(5), 692–705. Wiek, A., Withycombe, L., & Redman, C. L. (2011). Key competencies in sustainability: a reference framework for academic program development. Sustainability Science, 6(2), 203–218.
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