30 ONLINE 19 A, Change agents and activism in ESE
MeetingID: 881 1134 6086 Code: Qb9MTs
Transformative learning and behaviour change are desirable outcomes of many environmental and sustainability education efforts, and have been the focus of significant research attention. However, the impact of knowledge on transformative learning and pro-environmental behaviour has been disputed, if not systematically undervalued, in much of the literature in favour of attitudes and values (Cotton et al., 2015; Kaiser & Fuhrer, 2003). Kaiser and Fuhrer argue that this is due to a lack of understanding of different types of knowledge and an under-estimation of the importance of situational context. Knowledge can be understood in a range of different ways, but is often considered to fall into three main types: Propositional (or expert) knowledge, personal knowledge (including lay or tacet knowledge) and procedural knowledge (knowledge about how to do something) (See Burnard, 1996). Some research suggests that procedural knowledge may be more important than propositional knowledge in influencing behaviour though much research does not differentiate between the two, and that which does so has often produced mixed findings (Kaiser & Fuhrer, 2003). Our previous research (Cotton et al., 2015) indicates that many individuals lack the specific procedural knowledge about appropriate energy saving actions to influence behaviour effectively. In addition, some social theorists of behaviour change (such as Stern, 2000; Jackson, 2005) argue that context is extremely important (for example, changing towards an energy saving behaviour of cutting car use is much easier if public transport services are widespread and affordable). Situational barriers can therefore outweigh the impact of knowledge on behaviour which may explain the often poor correlation found between the two.
Working on a recent project concerning knowledge exchange (funded by UKRI and OfS), it became evident that this was another area in which the type of underpinning knowledge being discussed is often left unclear. Our project developed a model of student-led knowledge exchange (SLKE) in which participants’ prior propositional, procedural and personal knowledge all contribute to transformative learning, independence and behaviour change through a three-way learning triad. The SLKE model has important implications across all subject areas, and its key components link to theoretical understandings of sustainability pedagogy including experiential learning, active participation and transformative learning (Cotton & Winter, 2010). SLKE offers a context where students share propositional knowledge with others, but also develop personal and procedural knowledge which increases the effectiveness of their actions and those of others. The model outlines the benefits of student co-production of knowledge, which enhances motivation and engagement; it illustrates the importance of students encountering real-life contexts and experiences; and it evidences the skills required by staff to support multi-directional knowledge brokering. All of these elements offer crucial insights for sustainability in higher education and offer the potential both to enhance student learning and agency with respect to sustainability issues, but also open up opportunities for students to have a direct impact on promoting pro-environmental behaviours by working with local partners and community groups. We conclude that using student-led knowledge exchange approaches in authentic contexts could be considered much more widely in sustainability education where transformative learning and behaviour change are aspirations.
Our research explored the conditions which allow a student-led knowledge exchange (SLKE) culture to flourish in undergraduate teaching and learning. The initial phase of the project consisted of a stakeholder analysis exploring the drivers and barriers for SLKE from the perspective of students, academics, and partners involved in student-led health and wellbeing clinics, and the potential impacts on student learning and knowledge exchange of participation. Data collection took the form of semi-structured interviews conducted between September 2020 and August 2021 after ethical approval was obtained. A purposive sample of stakeholders with specific roles in relation to the clinics were selected for interview. These were key informants who had been involved with the knowledge-exchange activity in different ways and in different roles to get a diverse range of views and maximise the opportunity to learn from the sample. The sampling frame was flexible to include diverse perspectives on the clinics and on student knowledge exchange. All interviews were undertaken using Microsoft Teams. No payment for participation was offered. Interview schedules differed slightly for each group of respondents but together they explored the rationale for introducing the clinics; investigated the perceived benefits to students of participation; and evaluated the conditions which facilitate or act as a barrier to successful knowledge exchange. Individual interview schedules were developed in discussion with the research team and piloted to ensure interpretation was as intended and that the probes met the needs of the research and participants. All data were recorded and transcribed with the assistance of Otter.ai software though accuracy was checked and editing and anonymization undertaken before further analysis. Data were saved in a password-protected file and stored on the University server. Data were analysed in two phases. The first involved a ‘sorting’ approach to coding, relating the data in each group to key codes drawn inductively from the data in relation to the project aims. The second stage of analysis involved an iterative process of reviewing the data in each code and drawing out cross-cutting themes which were broader in nature. These were articulated as a set of propositions about the drivers and barriers for student learning through knowledge exchange, the types of student learning outcomes which were achieved, and the potential for scaling up. The propositions were used, together with the wider data set and theoretical insights to develop a model reflecting the conditions which promote student-led knowledge exchange in HE.
Academics are increasingly expected to create social, environmental and economic impact alongside research and teaching (Fazey et al., 2013). Encouraging a wider conceptualization of knowledge exchange (KE) which includes developing and sharing different forms of knowledge radically expands the opportunities for HE institutions to have real-world impact both on their own students and on external partners or the public involved in activities with the institution. We argue here that the model of student-led knowledge exchange offers opportunities for transformative learning and increases the likelihood of behaviour changes towards sustainability. A key element of the SLKE model concerns the different forms of KE which occur between individuals in a learning triad consisting of a student, a facilitator (often a member of staff) and an external participant or partner in the activity. The types of KE will vary but all three individuals are seen as having valid expertise to contribute to the activity, and all the presence of students encourages all to take the role of learner and to be more open to new ideas. Elements of the pedagogic context which help facilitate KE activities include an interdisciplinary, collaborative and research-based context; the use of real world, stretching, active learning approaches in a playful and low stakes setting; strong scaffolding and support for students and participants and encouragement of reflection on action to promote change. The authentic, hands-on experience gained by students – rooted in co-production and multi-directional knowledge sharing enhances student learning, motivation and agency and is transferable to various contexts. Further resources are under development which will facilitate the development of SLKE opportunities in a range of different subjects, but the model could be used to structure service learning or volunteering opportunities where students use academic research in an accessible format to promote behaviour change with community groups or individuals.
Burnard, P. (1996). Educational principles and curriculum design in experiential learning. In Acquiring Interpersonal Skills (pp. 102–117). Boston, MA: Springer. Cotton, D.R.E & Winter, J. (2010) 'It's not just bits of paper and light bulbs': A review of sustainability pedagogies and their potential for use in Higher Education. In Sustainability Education: Perspectives and Practice Across Higher Education.(Editors: Jones, P., Selby, D. & Sterling, S.) Cotton, D., Miller, W., Winter, J., Bailey, I. and Sterling, S. (2015) Developing students' energy literacy in higher education. International Journal of Sustainability in HE. 16 (4) 456-473. Fazey, I., Evely, A., Reed, M., Stringer, L., Kruijsen, J., White, P., . . . Trevitt, C. (2013). Knowledge exchange: A review and research agenda for environmental management. Environmental Conservation, 40 (1), 19-36. Jackson, T., (2005) Motivating Sustainable Consumption: A review of evidence on consumer behaviour and behavioural change. A report to the Sustainable Development Research Network, as part of the ESRC Sustainable Technologies Programme Kaiser, F.G. & Fuhrer, U. (2003) Ecological Behavior’s Dependency on Different Forms of Knowledge. Applied Psychology: An International Review. 52 (4): 598-613 Stern, P. (2000) Toward a coherent theory of environmentally significant behavior. Journal of Social Issues. 56, 407–24.
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