30 SES 10 A, Institutional Perspectives on ESE
In school organisation research, an ‘Education for sustainable development (ESD) perspective’ refers to orientation towards and promotion of ESD in the whole school’s organisation, i.e. students, teacher and school leaders (Hargreaves, 2008). Few studies have addressed more than one group of individuals involved in education at a time. To address this gap, the ESD perspective is investigated holistically. For this purpose, respondents including both school leaders and teachers were selected. Key concepts used in the research work (as well as the data collection and analysis methods, and framework chosen to display the results) are all rooted in the core objective to study ESD holistically.
An important feature of a whole school approach is transformative ESD. (Boström, et al.2018). In this research work it is searched in the school organisation. Transformative ESD is intended to encourage young individuals to become active participants in building new and better societies even before they leave school (Wals & Jickling 2009). This research work contributes to new knowledge on ways that school organisations can implement transformative ESD that is aligning with a whole school approach.
To develop the understanding to what a whole school approach of ESD constitute, characteristic expressions of quality in the school organisation that support transformative education were searched (Nikel & Lowe, 2010). These transformative qualities differ from qualities that promote establishment of firm structures and routines in ESD implementation, which raise risks of the education failing to provide the sensitivity to changes and needs of the society that is a core feature of transformative ESD (Lotz-Sisitka, Wals, Kronlid, & McGarry, 2015).
There is a clear need to know more about activities and organisational characteristics that support implementation of transformative ESD towards a whole school approach, based on the schools’ own practice, leadership and everyday life (Leo & Wickenberg, 2013). The research question guiding the overall work can be briefly summarised as What guiding principles in the school organisation promote implementation of transformative ESD?
Whole school approach of ESD can be considered a conception of educational change (Hargreaves, 2008; Mathar, 2013). It has emerged within the ESD research field, and is frequently used to judge the outcome and quality of ESD implementation efforts. A whole school approach can be used to assess educational performance in relation to ESD, it is than seen as a school system that incorporates ESD in a way that embraces interdisciplinarity approaches and all groups involved in education, students, teachers and school leaders. Apart from linking school to society a whole school approach of ESD recognizes the importance of links within a school organisation, between subjects and individuals, to enhance teaching and new knowledge formation in education (McKeown & Hopkins, 2007). More detailed application and scrutiny of whole-school approaches in efforts to identify optimal organisational support functions and requirements for ESD is asked for in research (Shallcross, 2005).
ESD research has greatly extended in recent years, but parallel to other fields dealing with education and educational change. Frameworks and conceptions on school educational change rooted in the two research fields (ESD and school improvement) are in this study linked through their focus on change and process in education. There is a stronger focus on connecting the internal school organisation to the outer society in the whole school approach ESD conceptions than in school improvement frameworks. Thus, there is a risk of efforts to reach a sustainable future fixating on societies’ development and failing to influence the development of education systems (Sund & Lysgaard, 2013). Moreover, the roles of school leadership and school organisation in relation to a whole school approach of ESD have received little research attention. This research work addresses that gap.
The study uses a mixed-method approach developed from the field of school improvement research. Swedish upper secondary schools that were actively implementing ESD were selected to investigate guiding principles for implementing transformative ESD. School leaders’ and teachers’ understanding of quality in their local school organization was studied. Methods included semi-structured interviews with school leaders and questionnaire studies with teachers. The selections of schools and interviewees (school leaders) and survey respondents (teachers) are based on two groups of schools to ensure that multiple reasons for implementing ESD is covered. The diversity was reflected in the schools participating in the study, a first group based on ESD awards was supplemented with another group that shared interest in interdisciplinary studies without any official certification. In total, there were 10 responding schools, represented by 14 school leaders and 58 teachers. The analysis of leaders’ and teachers’ perceptions of quality in highly ESD-active schools enabled identification of organisational guiding principles that apparently promote transformative ESD. Qualitative data was quantified in order to increase the possibility of seeing patterns and trends in the rich data material (Scherp, 2013) Guiding principles that stood out as highly important to schools that displayed a high level of transformative ESD implementation were identified and elaborated on. The research underlying this thesis was interdisciplinary as it involved the selection of ESD active schools that were investigated through methods developed within school improvement research. The holistic ideal of closely and directly associating schools’ internal organisational features and educational practices with outcomes in society is not emphasised in other frameworks of educational change. For example, effective school development and school improvement frameworks focus mainly on roles of intrinsic features of schools’ organisation in changing education. Tools developed in school improvement research were therefore used to broaden knowledge of how a whole school approach of ESD could be used and understood in future research on ESD. The use of two research fields in the design of the study synergistic explorations and analyses beyond the scope of either field alone. School improvement research provide new ways to study processes of change in the school organisation that can improve the quality of the provided education (Harris, & Chrispeels, 2006). The research has been validated by triangulation, including data collection by several methods (interviews and questionnaire surveys) from several groups of informants. A pilot study with 40 school leaders as well as test interviews was conducted.
The research work identifies guiding principles for implementing transformative ESD; collaborative interaction and school development, student-centred education, cooperation with local society, proactive leadership and long-term perspective. For school leaders, these guiding principles include the importance of maintaining high quality in their school organisations, and structural support in the organisation to establish a holistic idea and encourage collegial meetings. Together, these guiding principles support that the whole school organisation is framed, interlinked and contributing to teaching and learning practices in ESD active schools (Scott 2015). Two main conclusions on what a whole school approach constitute is based on this empirical research, first the identification of the local school organisation as the firm ground for implementation of transformative ESD (Scott 2013) align to a whole school approach. The second conclusion point out the internal school organisation to be a prerequisite for the schools’ collaboration with the surrounding society. A student-centred approach in organising education was found to facilitate such links between education and the outer society, which is a main goal of ESD according to policy (UNESCO 2014) and theory (Hargreaves, 2008). The results may provide useful recommendations for schools and ESD implementation programs. The study implies that more research is needed to outline how education collaboration with society can be organized in a way that raise the education quality in the whole school organisations, as recognized in both ESD policies (UNESCO 2014) and research (Laurie, et al. 2016). The capacity of the conception of a whole school approach to meet these needs is illustrated by the empirical results presented in this research study. Collaboration improving education quality is distinguished from collaboration that merely labels a school organisation work on ESD without affecting learning process, although there were limited examples of collaboration in most of the studied schools.
Boström, M., Andersson, E., Berg, M., Gustafsson, K., Gustavsson, E., Hysing, E., ... & Singleton, B. (2018). Conditions for transformative learning for sustainable development: A theoretical review and approach. Sustainability, (12), 4479. Hargreaves, L., G. (2008). The whole-school approach to education for sustainable development: From pilot projects to systematic change. Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, 6, 69-74. Harris, A., & Chrispeels, J. H. (2006). (Eds.), Improving schools and educational systems: International perspectives. London and New York: Routledge Laurie, R., Nonoyama-Tarumi, Y., McKeown, R., & Hopkins, C. (2016). Contributions of education for sustainable development (ESD) to quality education: A synthesis of research. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 10(2), 226-242. Leo, U., & Wickenberg, P. (2013). Professional norms in school leadership: Change efforts in implementation of education for sustainable development. Journal of Educational Change, 14(4), 403-422. Lotz-Sisitka, H., Wals, A., Kronlid, D., & McGarry, D. (2015). Transformative, transgressive social learning: Rethinking higher education pedagogy in times of systemic global dysfunction. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 16, 73-80. Mathar, R. (2013). The Concept of Whole School Approach–a Platform for School Development with Focus on Sustainable Development. https://esd-expert.net/files/ESD-Expert/pdf/Concept-Paper-Mathar.pdf McKeown, R., & Hopkins, C. (2007). Moving beyond the EE and ESD disciplinary debate in formal education. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 1(1), 17-26. Nikel, J., & Lowe, J. (2010). Talking of fabric: A multi-dimensional model of quality in education. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 40(5), 589-605. Scherp, H. (2013 b). Quantifying qualitative data using cognitive maps. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 36(1), 67-81. Scott, W. (2013). Developing the sustainable school: Thinking the issues through. Curriculum Journal, 2(2), 181–205. Scott, W. (2015). Exploring a transformative orientation to sustainability in universities: A question of loose and tight framings. Environmental Education Research, 21 (6), 943-953. Shallcross, T. (2005). Whole school approaches to education for sustainable development through school-focused professional development (The SEEPS project). Education for a Sustainable Future. NSW: Macquarie University. http://kpe-kardits.kar.sch.gr/Aiforia/international_review2.pdf Sund, P., & Lysgaard, J. (2013). Reclaim “education” in environmental and sustainability education research. (4), 1598-1616. UNESCO (2014). Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Retrieved from internet 4 August 2019.http://unesdoc.UNESCO.org/images/0023/002305/230514e.pdf Wals, A. & Jickling, B., (2009). A framework for young people’s participation in sustainability. In: P.,B. Corcoran & P.,M. Osano (Eds.), Young people, education and sustainable development: exploring principles, perspectives and praxis. (pp. 77–84). Wageningen: Wageningen Academic.
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