30 ONLINE 24 A, Paper Session
MeetingID: 844 3420 4776 Code: 78EuZb
ECOLOG, a key action programme and network for the greening of schools and education for sustainability, was developed in 1996 by an Austrian team of teachers working on the international ENSI project (Affolder & Varga, 2018). ECOLOG is a national support system with the aim of promoting and integrating an ecological approach into the development of individual schools and attempts are being made to embed the programme in Austria's federal states through regional networks. To provide support, a network structure involving ECOLOG regional teams in the nine Austrian provinces has been developed; furthermore, a scientific advisory board has been established. Central support is provided by the Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) and by the Institute of Instructional and School Development (IUS) at the University of Klagenfurt. Additional support measures are provided by the FORUM Environmental Education (an NGO), via seminars for heads and coordinators of ECOLOG network schools, the Education Support Fund for Education for Sustainable Development, as well as via the National Environmental Performance Award for schools and university colleges of teacher education (Rauch & Pfaffenwimmer, 2020).
ECOLOG is structured in three levels to support schools in the ECOLOG programme: (1) the coordination by the IUS in partnership with the BMBWF; (2) nine ECOLOG regional teams (one in each Austrian province) in collaboration with educational and environmental authorities, university colleges of teacher education and various organizations of environmental education; and (3) ECOLOG coordinators and teams in all ECOLOG schools.
Originally embedded in the OECD-Project “Environment and School Initiatives”, the ecologization of schools project in Austria was conceptualized as a comprehensive school development concept following quality criteria, such as action-orientated and reflective forms of open learning or project instruction, where pupils learn actively (e.g., by generating local knowledge) and take over responsibility for creative processes and constructive relationships with the local community or neighbourhood (Rauch, 2000). ECOLOG is based upon an action research approach (Rauch, 2016). Schools analyse the ecological, technical, and social conditions of their environment and, resultingly, define objectives, targets, concrete activities, and quality criteria to be implemented and evaluated. Students and other stakeholders of a school should be involved in a participatory way, and collaboration with authorities, businesses, and other interested parties is encouraged. The measures concern, among others, areas like saving resources (energy, water, etc.), reduction of emissions (i.e., waste, traffic), spatial arrangement (from the classroom to the campus), the culture of learning (communication, organisational structure), health promotion, social learning, as well as the opening of the school to the community.
All in all, over 600 schools (approx.10% of Austrian schools) with about 15,000 teachers and approximately 110,000 students as well as 13 (out of 14) university colleges for teacher education are currently part of the network. Many others are reached through the website, teacher in-service-training seminars, and newsletters.
Throughout the past 25 years of the ECOLOG-schools network's existence, a series of evaluations, inquiries, and studies have been produced (Rauch & Pfaffenwimmer, 2020). Based on these evaluations, a quantitative survey was carried out by the IUS at the participating ECOLOG schools in spring 2019. At the time of the survey, there were 572 schools in the ECOLOG network. The survey was sent to the coordinators of all ECOLOG schools. The main goal of the survey is to gain a quantitative overview of ecological measures and activities at participating schools based on previously mainly qualitative, accompanying research studies (e.g., Rauch, Pfaffenwimmer & Dulle, 2016; Ziener 2017; Fleiß, 2018; Rauch & Pfaffenwimmer, 2019). Support systems and cooperation of the school with the outside world are examined to be able to further develop the support systems for future activities within the framework of ECOLOG. In addition, it was an urgent matter for the research team to find out how public relations are carried out at schools and what challenges, restrictions, and opportunities coordinators see at ECOLOG schools. The following research questions were formulated: 1. Which motives are responsible for joining the network? 2. Which public relations strategies are reported at the participating ECOLOG schools? 3. How and where is the ECOLOG programme made visible to the school community? 4. What is the general attitude of the coordinators towards ECOLOG? 5. How are the coordinators supported? What hinders the work of the coordinators? 6. What are ECOLOG’s effects on students? 7. How do ECOLOG schools network with their surroundings? A questionnaire was developed which contained self-formulated items as well as some adapted items from the Federal-State Commission Germany project “21” questionnaire (Rode, 2005). A team at the IUS developed the items for the research instrument. After a pilot study with 20 coordinators (carried out at the end of March 2019), some items were adapted. All coordinators at ECOLOG schools were invited to participate in the online survey. The survey response rate was 25% of all coordinators (N = 146), 77% of whom are female Descriptive statistics (means, Cronbach-Alpha) as well as inductive statistics (regression analysis) describe a status-quo of ECOLOG schools in Austria. The SPSS programme was used for the statistical calculations.
The research questions formulated above will be addressed briefly and in more detail in the full paper. Responsible for joining the ECOLOG network are mainly the school management (61 %) followed by the current coordinators (33 %) and the former coordinators (30 %). The main motivations for schools to join the ECOLOG Network are the personal and professional interest in ecological issues of the initiator and a potential better public image of the school. ECOLOG is part of the school programme in only 32% of the participating schools. On the other hand, it is encouraging that 61% of the coordinators state that ECOLOG can be found in the school's mission statement. The attitude of the coordinators in the elementary schools is the most positive, followed by those who teach in the new middle schools. Teachers at ECOLOG schools are supported by the coordinators to carry out ECOLOG activities with their students. Furthermore, the experience exchange within the ECOLOG network proves to be a valuable support for the coordinators. One of the main challenges mentioned is the additional workload of teachers who have the role of coordinators. Positive effects on pupils are shown in the careful use of resources and the enhancement of a solution-oriented way of thinking and working. The cooperation with the school environment could be expanded. It turns out that schools cooperate more often with the parents' association and with blue light organizations than with universities, companies, and industries. Overall, the results show that the coordinators anchored the ECOLOG principles in their everyday school life through environmentally conscious actions involving the pupils in concrete activities and reflections. But there is room for improvement, for instance with respect to cooperation with out-of-school partners.
Affolter, C. & Varga, A. (2018) (Eds.), Environment and School Initiatives. Lessons from the ENSI Network - Past, Present and Future. Environment and School Initiatives, Vienna and Eszterhazy Karoly University, Budapest. Fleiß, C. (2016). Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung im Kontext Schule und Inklusion. Klagenfurt. IUS – Institut für Unterrichts- und Schulentwicklung. Fleiß, C. (2018): Wirksamkeit des ÖKOLOG-Netzwerks an Neuen Mittelschulen in Wien. Masterarbeit. Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt. Lehner, I. (2016): Auswirkungen des Wissenstransfers an einer Volksschule des Netzwerkes ÖKOLOG, bezogen auf eine Umweltbildung für Nachhaltige Entwicklung im Vergleich zu einer Volksschule, die nicht an diesem Programm teilnimmt - Masterarbeit. FH Burgenland. Rauch, F. (2000). Schools – A place of ecological learning. Environmental Education Research, 3, 245-258. Rauch, F (2016). Networking for Education for Sustainable Development: The Austrian ECOLOG-Schools Programme. Educational Action Research. 24:1, 34-45 Rauch, F. & Pfaffenwimmer, G. (2020). The Austrian ECOLOG-Schools Programme – Networking for Environmental and Sustainability Education. In A. Gough, J. Chi Kin Lee & E. Po Keung Tsang (Eds.) (2020), Green Schools Globally: Stories of Impact for Sustainable Development (S. 85-102). Dortrecht: Springer. Online: https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030468194 Rauch F., Pfaffenwimmer G., Dulle M. (2016). The Austrian Network "Ecologising Schools" (ECOLOG). In: Lambrechts, W., Hindson, J. (Ed.): Research and Innovation in Education for Sustainable Development, Vienna: Environment and School Initiatives - ENSI, ZVR-Zahl 408619713, 21 -32. Rode, H. (2005): Motivation, Transfer und Gestaltungskompetenz. Ergebnisse der Abschlussevaluation des BLK-Programms "21" 1999-2004. Berlin Swatek, E., Rauch, F. (2020). Quantitative Erhebung zu Stellenwert und Wirkung von ÖKOLOG an Schulen aus Sicht der KoordinatorInnen an den Schulen. Verdichtete Darstellung der Ergebnisse. Universität Klagenfurt. Ziener, K. (2017). Das ÖKOLOG-Netzwerk: Begleitforschungsstudie in der Phase 2015 bis 2016. Universität Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt.
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