30 ONLINE 25 B, Whole-institution approaches in ESE
MeetingID: 841 0226 6572 Code: KCAB0q
To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), comprehensive and transformational learning is necessary at every level (e.g., Sterling, 2016). For education systems, the existential urgency of current unsustainability implies a necessity to reconsider education policies, curricula, didactics as well as the places and settings, in which learning takes place. Regarding the learning environment, the concept of Whole Institution Approaches (WIAs) puts emphasis on the notion that sustainability learning is not only a matter of adding new contents and didactics to the established teaching in class, but that a considerable proportion of learning is informal (e.g., Schugurensky, 2000), and shaped by the daily experiences learners make in interaction with their social and physical surroundings (e.g., Buckler & Creech, 2014; Henderson & Tilbury, 2004; Sterling, 2004). Therefore, WIAs call for an alignment of the hidden curriculum (e.g., social habits and rules, built and natural environment, for example Winter & Cotton, 2012) with an ambitious orientation of the formal curriculum-based learning towards sustainability.
Within the political and academic debate on sustainability in education, the concept of WIAs has emerged over the past years as an important cornerstone of countries´ and international organizations´ efforts to foster effective sustainability learning (e.g., Rieckmann, 2018; UNESCO, 2020; Wals & Benavot, 2017). The key message – to walk the talk on sustainability – is widely accepted as a core objective of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD, e.g., UNESCO, 2021) and descriptions of approaches exist particularly for school education (e.g., Henderson & Tilbury, 2004) and higher education (e.g. McMillin & Dyball, 2009). Yet, while various conceptual articles, guidebooks, and reports exist, few attempts have been made to (a) develop a literature-based conceptual synthesis of the core characteristics of WIAs across the different areas of education, and (b) systematically and quantitatively assess the status of practical implementation within entire education systems. Regarding the latter, it is particularly striking that, while participation and learner-orientation are overarchingly considered as critical parts of WIAs, little data is available on the perspective of learners and educators on the practical integration of sustainability within their everyday learning environments. Instead, most available data relies on the naturally biased self-reporting of individuals within the formal leadership of educational organizations, e.g. principals, directors, or sustainability officers (for one of the fewer examples of assessments with educators, see Mogren et al., 2019).
Thus, aiming to contribute to a more systematic understanding of coherent sustainability learning and, to support effective sustainability governance in education, the presented research attempts to
(i) conceptually synthesize the international literature on WIAs across areas of education,
(ii) develop, refine and pretest a questionnaire, and
(iii) use this operationalization to assess the status of WIA implementation in Germany.
For this, a systematic qualitative literature analysis is combined with an expert review to develop a joint framework for WIAs (Holst, under review). The framework is operationalized into quantitatively assessable items, which are tested and refined through extensive qualitative and quantitative pretests. Finally, the instrument is used to quantitatively assess the practical implementation of WIAs within formal organizations of the German education system (n > 2.500 learners and educators).
In terms of methods, the research is split into three sub-parts: (i) systematic qualitative literature analysis, (ii) operationalization and pretesting, and (iii) assessment in Germany. (i) To conceptually synthesize the core facets of WIAs, a systematic literature search was conducted (Holst, under review) in Web of Science and ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), utilizing a Boolean operator (("whole school" OR "whole-school*" OR "whole institution" OR "whole-institution*" OR "whole System" OR "whole-system*") AND ("education") AND ("sustainable" OR "sustainability")). Additional documents (grey and scientific literature) were added based on a systematic online search and in-text citations. Two mutually inclusive criteria were applied for all documents with reference to WIAs (relation to sustainability and to design and/or development of educational organizations), resulting in the inclusion of 104 documents (83 scientific articles, 21 from grey literature). Tailoring qualitative content analysis (Kuckartz, 2014) to literature analysis, a rule-bound procedure was developed to synthesize the data and to construct a joint framework. The conceptual categories were translated into 53 statements, which were reviewed by nine experts from policy, practice, administration, academia and youth and discussed in an expert validation workshop. Subsequently, the framework was refined (Holst, under review). (ii) Based on the refined 53 items and the framework descriptions, a questionnaire was developed with which learners and educators can evaluate the status of WIA-implementation based on their daily experience. The ~ 20 items each consist of a statement, which the respondents may or may not agree to, using a five-point Likert scale. The instrument is pretested in two steps: In iterative rounds of cognitive interviews (thinking aloud, probing) with learners and educators (n=10) from school and higher education, the comprehensibility was refined until a saturation of problems was observed. Subsequently, a quantitative pretest is conducted to assess overlaps, correlations and item difficulties. (iii) In spring 2022, the instrument will be used as part of a quantitative study of the German national Monitoring on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) with > 2.500 learners (14 – 24 years) and educators from school education, higher education and vocational education and training. Using an online-access-panel for assessment, the results are expected to be quasi-representative, taking into account the bias of registering on the used platform (Grund & Brock, 2020). Apart from the descriptive analysis of the status of WIAs in Germany, the results will also provide information on possible relationships between perceived WIA-implementation and (un-)sustainable behavior.
Within the international literature, WIAs are overarchingly framed as continuous and participative learning processes to “coherently mainstream sustainability as a fundamental principle within all activities”, interlinking “all formal and informal learning as and for sustainability” (Holst, under review). While it is to be considered that diverse organizations require specific pathways towards this objective, a set of overarching core principles (e.g., coherence, participation, continuous learning) and several strongly interconnected organizational components are synthesized and discussed: (i) participatory and proactive sustainability governance, (ii) ESD in curriculum and formal learning, (iii) sustainable operations and campus management, (iv) embeddedness in community and networks, (v) sustainability in research (higher education), (vi) clear and consistent communication on sustainability, (vii) sustainable human capacity building and (viii) organizational culture of sustainability (ibid.). Grounded in the systematic literature analysis, the operationalization can serve as a tool, which may be of use for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers who would like to assess and advance a coherent organizational integration of sustainability through WIAs across the different areas of education. As a possible quantitative and process-based indicator for quality ESD, the instrument can be used within a variety of assessments. A short and a long version are planned to be published in open access formats both for academic and non-academic users. Thirdly, the assessment of the status of WIAs in Germany (spring 2022) will provide a critical check of the current implementation of ESD. As part of the national monitoring, the results are used to derive recommendations to foster effective governance towards coherent integration of sustainability in education. The latter is not only critical to achieve SDG 4.7 and SDG 4 (quality education), but – in terms of societal learning – a necessity for the achievement of the SDGs in general.
Buckler, C., & Creech, H. (2014). Shaping the Future We Want: UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). Final Report. Paris 07 SP, France. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Grund, J., & Brock, A. (2020). Education for Sustainable Development in Germany: Not Just Desired but Also Effective for Transformative Action. Sustainability, 12(2838), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072838 Henderson, K., & Tilbury, D. (2004). Whole-School Approaches to Sustainability: An International Review of Sustainable School Programs. A Report Prepared by the Australian Research Institute in Education for Sustainability (ARIES) for The Department of the Environment and Heritage, Australian Government. Holst, J. (under review). Towards Coherence on Sustainability in Education: A Systematic Review of Whole Institution Approaches. Kuckartz, U. (2014). Qualitative Text Analysis: A Guide to Methods, Practice & Using Software. SAGE Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446288719 McMillin, J., & Dyball, R. (2009). Developing a Whole-of-University Approach to Educating for Sustainability. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 3(1), 55–64. https://doi.org/10.1177/097340820900300113 Mogren, A., Gericke, N., & Scherp, H.‑A. (2019). Whole school approaches to education for sustainable development: A model that links to school improvement. Environmental Education Research, 25(4), 508–531. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2018.1455074 Rieckmann, M. (2018). Chapter 2: Learning to transform the world: key competencies in ESD. In A. Leicht, J. Heiss, & W. J. Byun (Eds.), Issues and trends in Education for Sustainable Development (pp. 39–60). United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Schugurensky, D. (2000). The forms of informal learning: towards a conceptualization of the field. WALL Working Paper(19). https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/2733 Sterling, S. (2004). Higher Education, Sustainability, and the Role of Systemic Learning. In P. B. Corcoran & A. E. J. Wals (Eds.), Higher Education and the Challenge of Sustainability (pp. 49–70). Kluwer Academic Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1007/0-306-48515-X_5 Sterling, S. (2016). A Commentary on Education and Sustainable Development Goals. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 10(2), 208–213. https://doi.org/10.1177/0973408216661886 UNESCO. (2020). Education for Sustainable Development. A roadmap. Paris 07 SP, France. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO. (2021). Berlin Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development. Berlin. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Wals, A. E. J., & Benavot, A. (2017). Can we meet the sustainability challenges? The role of education and lifelong learning. European Journal of Education, 52(4), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejed.12250 Winter, J., & Cotton, D. (2012). Making the hidden curriculum visible: sustainability literacy in higher education. Environmental Education Research, 18(6), 783–796. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2012.670207
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