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Failed Quality in ESD Implementation – School Leaders in Evidence Seeking of School Legitimacy to Become Whole School Organisations
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013). (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2726-8253
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences (from 2013). (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8735-2102
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This study seeks to investigate and understand the already established anchoring structures of quality education in schools that actively implement ESD (Laurie, Nonoyama-Tarumi, Mckeown and Hopkins 2016). The anchoring structures on leadership level are criticised for building   cultures of standards and conformity (Bottery Wright and James 2012), rather than progress change and renewal in education, which is considered a way to prevent a negative societal development (Huckle and Wals 2015). Standards and conformity is found to coexist with transformative expressions of progress and change in education.  In recent research the anchoring qualities are criticised as being too structural, predefined and apart from a real school context (Scott in Jucker and Reiner 2015) and referred to as counteracting a fruitful ESD implementation (Peters, Michael and Wals 2016; Lotz-Sisitka, Wals, Kronlid and McGarry 2015).

The focus of this study is to outline which role the qualities that constitute structures and conformity (in this study called transmissive) play in schools, and what specific quality criteria the empirics underpin as necessary structures that anchor quality at ESD active schools? Qualities in transformative ESD implementation distinguish from qualities in transmissive ESD implementation. The gap between these two ESD implementation strategies can be described by qualities related to improve schools in transmissive ESD implementation to qualities used to develop schools in transformative ESD implementation (Hargreaves 2008).    

The term ESDquality criteria is a specific term used in studies that directly inquired about the qualities related to ESD settings in education (Breiting, Mayer and Mogensen 2005). The study investigates the school leaders understanding of transmissive quality criteria at ESD active schools and especially those appointed high importance in the school organisation.

The authors have in earlier studies investigated ESD implementation at school organisation level with the focus of qualities that are process orientated (transformative). It was found that the school organisations most frequently based on transformative qualities in education also displayed the highest degrees of transmissive qualities (Mogren and Gericke a, b). The result of high levels of transmissive qualities in schools with a successful ESD implementation created research interest for their role. The study also intends to indicate transmissive quality criteria that seems to threatens a sound ESD implementation in that they display a vague anchoring function or hinder the transformative ESD implementation. 

The study will answer the questions:

1, What characterizes the transmissive weighted quality criteria that ESD active schools use (as anchoring) in governing a school organisation of high quality?

2, Can the realization of ESD WSA at teacher level indicate which transmissive weighted quality criteria (anchors in quality criteria) that is important for a school organisation to consider?

The experience of schools with an active ESD implementation is informative and crucial in breaking new ground for ESD of a high quality (Jucker and Reiner2015). Research based on school leadership within such schools is accounted for in the study.  Temporarily ´role model-schools´ are used to stand model and learn from for schools seeking information and proof on the power of a transformative ESD implementation as to redirect education to a higher quality in accordance to the local and global sustainability problems (Hargreaves 2008; Laurie, Robert, et al. 2016).The attention given to the transmissive quality criteria in this study is an attempt to find the anchoring structures  that not previously  has been the central interest for researchers  studying ESD implementation (Schwarzin 2012). Rickinson, Hall and Reid (2016) urge the need to be more curious to which factors that do make implementation programmes to work overtime beyond the fact that they are present as a tool within educational settings.

In this study two different datasets are used that relates to two levels of the same school organisations. One dataset is collected at the school leader level by interviews with principals. The other dataset is based on a questionnaire study with teachers. ESD schools from a Swedish nationwide sample are identified. This is done by investigating the schools ESD activity in national ESD award systems and national databases on ESD schools. The 10 most active ESD schools are selected and validated by interviewing local school personal and ESD stakeholders. In the first data collection semi structured interviews were conducted with the principals. The main objective for the interviews was to collect data about the way principals choose to organize their schools in relation to their perception of high quality in education. During the interviews concept maps were constructed by the researcher based on the interviewees’ statements. The concept maps hold information of which quality criteria that were highlighted by different schools, and the argumentation for those choices. The trustworthiness of the concept map is confirmed by each principal. Qualitative data in the form of concept maps are translated into quantitative data by using an assessment system in which each quality criteria were given a score depending on the emphasis given by the principal. The scores separate transmissive and transformative statements. The statements formed 26 quality criteria. In this study, we compare the ranking of single quality criteria to their ranking as transmissive weighted. We identify in that way the transmissive quality criteria that is used to anchor ESD. Excerpts by school leaders help us to interpret quantitative data. The datasets on teacher level at selected ESD schools consist of a survey about school development measuring the teacher’s opinion on quality in school development. This survey was developed and used within a larger school development project in Sweden (Scherp 2013). It is an operationalisation of a school organisation model. The model is used to understand high quality in ESD active schools in an earlier study by the Authors. This study assumes the use of the model one step further; as a tool to define ESD Whole School Approach, WSA. We define what is meant by WSA and explain how the model can be used to judge the realisation of WSA at ESD active schools. This allows an identification of transmissive qualities used in schools realising ESD.

Our research contributes to an empirically based understanding on the impact of the transmissive quality criteria at school organization level in schools with an active ESD implementation. This gives new arguments and input to the design of implementation programmes on ESD that holds the ambition to scale up ESD. Universally the study also contributes to the definition on quality education related to actual policy documents on ESD realisation, Global Action Programme on ESD (UN 2014). The concept of Whole School Approach, WSA is introduced as the benchmark for high quality in education. Finally, the study is designed with an interdisciplinary approach where the ESD research field rapproach the research field of educational organisation and leadership, which contributes to a modest field of research. Our first results indicate that political support is an important transmissive weighted quality criterion that leads to ESD WSA implementation. I Hence, the sharing of ideological ideas within the school or networks to measure one owns practice and organisation against seems to be an important anchoring for ESD implementation. School organisation with a lower realization of ESD WSA search their legitimization of school organisation in evidence by external actors but seems less successful in their strategy. At time for the ECER conference we foresee that we will have even more detailed results to share.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-75371OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-75371DiVA, id: diva2:1360802
Conference
Oral presentation at ECER (European Conference on Educational Research) held by EERA (European Educational Research Association) in Copenhagen, Denmark, 22-25 August.
Available from: 2019-10-14 Created: 2019-10-14 Last updated: 2019-10-14

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