30 SES 16 A, Assessing Key Competencies In Higher Education For Sustainable Development
This research investigates an approach to learner assessment being used on an EU-funded project, A Rounder Sense of Purpose (RSP), that developed a competence framework for education for sustainable development (ESD) educators based on the UNECE (2011) competences. This framework and plans for assessment were presented at the preceding symposium ECER in 2017. In assessing ESD competences there is a contradiction between highlighting learning outcomes that competences seek to impart and the desire to encourage learners to think for themselves. This double bind is highlighted by Shephard et al (2018) whose review of selected literature on competences identifies an important distinction between (i) the obligation on the part of learners to achieve pre-determined learning outcomes and (ii) the aspiration that learners will wish to use their new competence in the way that it was intended. The research approach being piloted in the RSP project is based on peer assessment of vertical and horizontal dimensions of learning and dialogue (Wegerif 2011; Vare 2018). To date this has encouraged students to present their own emergent views and actions, i.e. what they wish to do. Subsequent trials of this approach are focussed on specific aspects of the competence framework, i.e. what they are obliged to learn, while emphasising that learning is rarely, if ever, limited to one competence at a time. This paper will explore the extent to which engaging in the teaching and assessment of this way has enabled learners to (a) better comprehend the integrated nature of this (and any) set of competences and (b) explore for themselves the double bind inherent in ESD competences.
Shephard, K., Rieckmann, M. & Barth, M. (2018) Seeking sustainability competence and capability in the ESD and HESD literature: an international philosophical hermeneutic analysis. In Environmental Education Research. UNECE (2011) Learning for the future: Competences in Education for Sustainable Development. Geneva: UNECE Vare, P. (2018) ‘A Rounder Sense of Purpose: developing and assessing competences for educators of sustainable development’ in Form@re, 18:2 Wegerif, R. (2011) Towards a dialogic theory of how children learn to think. Thinking Skills and Creativity 6 (2011) 179–190.
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