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The barriers encountered by teachers implementing education for sustainable development
Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Biology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2220-1615
2012 (English)In: Research in Science & Technological Education, ISSN 0263-5143, E-ISSN 1470-1138, Vol. 30, no 2, 185-207 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background : According to the Swedish curriculum teachers in all subjects have a responsibility to integrate a holistic perspective of sustainable development (SD) and teach according to an education for sustainable development (ESD) approach. However previous research has shown that teachers from different subjects perceive SD differently.

Purpose : The study aimed at investigating if and how teachers’ subject area influences their ability to implement a holistic perspective of ESD; we investigated both the impact of teaching traditions and the barriers that teachers experienced.

Sample : A stratified sample of 224 Swedish upper secondary schools participated. An online questionnaire was sent and answered by a total of 3229 teachers at these schools. In total, there were 669 science teachers, 373 social science teachers, 483 language teachers, 713 vocational and esthetical–practical teachers, and 739 teachers from other disciplines who participated in the survey.

Design and methods : The questionnaire consisted of questions requiring Likert-scale responses and multiple-choice questions. The data from the questionnaire were analyzed using Pearson’s Chi-square test and one-way ANOVA. The significance level accepted was p < 0.05.

Results : Teachers were influenced by their own subject traditions. Science teachers in our study were grounded in the fact-based tradition and lectures were the most common teaching method used. The teaching tradition of the social science teachers seemed to be most in line to an ESD approach. Many language teachers (41%) stated they did not include SD issues in their teaching at all. Among the barriers identified, the most common obstacles were that the teachers lacked inspiring examples of how to include SD in their teaching and that they lacked the necessary expertise about SD.

Conclusion : This study highlights the need for the management within schools to create opportunities for teachers to work collaboratively when teaching ESD. It is also important to provide further training that is adjusted to the needs of different disciplines.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 30, no 2, 185-207 p.
Keyword [en]
environmental education, sustainable development, teaching for sustainability, upper secondary school, teaching traditions, interdisciplinary approach, teaching methods
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8258DOI: 10.1080/02635143.2012.699891ISI: 000308137100005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-8258DiVA: diva2:441364
Available from: 2011-09-15 Created: 2011-09-15 Last updated: 2015-11-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Utbildning för hållbar utveckling ur ett lärarperspektiv: Ämnesbundna skillnader i gymnasieskolan
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Utbildning för hållbar utveckling ur ett lärarperspektiv: Ämnesbundna skillnader i gymnasieskolan
2011 (Swedish)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Education for sustainable development from a teacher’s perspective : Subject-bound differences in upper secondary school
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates how teachers from different disciplines understand and implement education for sustainable development in their teaching. A nationwide questionnaire study was conducted with 3229 upper secondary school teachers representing 224 schools in Sweden. The concept of sustainable development is complex and research has shown that teachers exhibit uncertainties in their understanding of it, and that the way they conceptualize sustainable development can have consequences for how they incorporate it into their teaching. Previous research has emphasized that Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) should promote interdisciplinary and holistic learning rather than traditional subject-based learning. This is in accordance with the Swedish curriculum, which emphasizes that all teachers in all subjects should integrate education for sustainable development. The teachers in the study were grouped into four disciplines; science-, social science-, language-, and vocational/esthetical-practical teachers.  The results showed that there were many subject-bound barriers to successful implementation of  ESD. Teachers were influenced by their subject tradition in: 1) how they understand sustainable development, 2) which teaching methods they use, 3) which barriers they experience, and 4) which teaching tradition they work within. Because of these differences it is important to adjust any further training of teachers according to their discipline. This study highlights the need for improved teacher education and further training of in-service teachers; more than 70% of the teachers stated that they need such training. It also highlights the issue how strong subject-bound traditions make it difficult to implement general goals of the curricula such as sustainable development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstad University, 2011. 49 p.
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2011:42
Keyword
Environmental education, Sustainable development, Teaching for sustainability, Teachers understanding, Upper secondary school, Subject -bound differences, Teaching traditions, Interdisciplinary Approach, Teaching methods, Miljöundervising, Hållbar utveckling, Undervsing för hållbar utveckling, Lärares förståelse, Gymnasieskolan, Ämnesbundna skillnader, Undervsingstraditioner, Ämnesövergripande arbetssätt, Undervsings metoder
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8057 (URN)978-91-7063-377-5 (ISBN)
Presentation
2011-09-30, Rejmersalen (Ericson) 9C 204, Universitetsgatan 2, 651 88 Karlstad, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-09-15 Created: 2011-08-15 Last updated: 2015-12-28Bibliographically approved

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Borg, CarolaGericke, NiklasHöglund, Hans-OlofBergman, Eva

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