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The effect of implementation of education for sustainable development in Swedish compulsory schools: Assesing pupils' sustainability consciousness
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences. (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7976-4860
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences. (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8735-2102
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Engineering and Chemical Sciences. (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9521-1737
2016 (English)In: Environmental Education Research, ISSN 1350-4622, E-ISSN 1469-5871, Vol. 22, no 2, p. 176-202Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

During the past decade, numerous schools in Sweden have implemented education for sustainable development (ESD) as an explicit guiding approach in teaching. In this paper, we investigate the effect of this approach in comparison with that of pupils taught in ordinary schools. Accordingly, we introduce the concept of sustainability consciousness to represent the holistic view of sustainability. Within the concept of sustainability consciousness, we combine and investigate the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of sustainable development in terms of sustainability knowingness, attitudes, and behavior. A Likert-scale questionnaire with 50 items was developed to evaluate pupils’ sustainability consciousness through a nationwide study in Sweden. A total of 1773 pupils from the 6th and 9th grades participated. The results indicated that the ESD profile schools had a small positive effect on the pupils’ sustainability consciousness, while in grade 9 the effect was negative. The implications for further ESD implementation are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2016. Vol. 22, no 2, p. 176-202
Keywords [en]
Compulsory school, Education for sustainable development, Pupils’ perceptions, Sustainability attitudes, Sustainability behavior, Sustainability consciousness
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Biology; Education; Environmental Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-33773DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1005057ISI: 000371816300002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-33773DiVA, id: diva2:748897
Funder
Swedish Research Council, B0589701
Note

This article has been published after the thesis defense. In the thesis it has the title The effect of implementation of education for sustainable development in Swedish compulsory schools : assesing pupils' sustainability consciousness

Available from: 2014-09-22 Created: 2014-09-22 Last updated: 2018-10-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Young People's "Sustainability Consciousness": Effects of ESD Implementation in Swedish Schools
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Young People's "Sustainability Consciousness": Effects of ESD Implementation in Swedish Schools
2014 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development is approaching its end and it is important to investigate the effects of the efforts to implement education for sustainable development (ESD) nationally, before decisions on forthcoming efforts are made. There are few investigations of the effect of ESD implementation that take a broad approach. In order to measure the educational effects of ESD implementation broadly and inclusively, I introduce the concept of sustainability consciousness (SC), which will be operationalized into the research through a Likert scale questionnaire. This licentiate thesis contributes new knowledge on the implementation of ESD in the Swedish school system as reflected in young people’s SC. Two studies have been conducted. In the first study, I investigated the effects of ESD implementation by a comparison of SC between students in schools with an explicit ESD approach and control schools without an explicit approach. In the second study, I investigated whether the perceptual dip among adolescents found in the field of environmental education was also present in the economic and social dimensions of their SC in addition to the environmental one. The total sample included 2 413 students in 6th, 9th and 12th grades of the Swedish schools system. Results of the two studies indicate that the implementation of ESD in the Swedish compulsory school system does not seem to have been particularly successful as there are only small positive effects of an explicit ESD approach in 6th grade and even a small negative effect of an explicit ESD approach in the 9th grade. Furthermore, the dip in adolescent 9th graders’ SC is confirmed. This indicates that different age groups tackle the effects of the prevailing traditional sustainability teaching in different ways, which suggests that ESD in schools need to be adapted to different levels.

Abstract [sv]

Baksidestext:

The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development is drawing to an end and it is important to investigate the effects of implementing education for sustainable development (ESD) nationally. This thesis contributes new knowledge on the implementation of ESD in the Swedish school system. The concept of sustainability consciousness (SC) is introduced and operationalized to measure the educational effects of ESD by taking a broad and inclusive approach in two studies with a total of 2 413 students in 6th, 9th, and 12th grades. The first study investigated differences in students’ SC by comparing students in schools with an explicit ESD approach and control schools without an explicit approach. The second study investigated if there is a dip in 9th graders’ SC in comparison with younger and older age groups. Results reveal that the implementation of ESD in the Swedish schools does not seem to have been particularly successful as there are only small effects of an explicit ESD approach. A dip in adolescent 9th graders’ SC is also confirmed. Different age groups respond to the prevailing traditional sustainability teaching in different ways, which suggest that ESD in schools need to be adapted to different levels.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2014. p. 67
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2014:56
Series
Studies in Science and Technology Education, Linköping University, ISSN 1652-5051
Keywords
Compulsory school, Adolescents, Education for sustainable development, Pupils’ perceptions, Sustainability attitudes, Sustainability behavior, Sustainability consciousness
National Category
Environmental Sciences Didactics
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-33797 (URN)978-91-7063-594-6 (ISBN)
Presentation
2014-11-14, Nyquistsalen, 9C 203, Karlstads Universitet, Karlstad, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council, B0589701
Available from: 2014-10-23 Created: 2014-09-23 Last updated: 2018-06-04Bibliographically approved
2. Student Sustainability Consciousness: Investigating Effects of Education for Sustainable Development in Sweden and Beyond
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Student Sustainability Consciousness: Investigating Effects of Education for Sustainable Development in Sweden and Beyond
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Environmental and sustainability education has been an important part of education worldwide for many years, aiming to foster pro-environmental behavior among young people. Education for sustainable development (ESD) and its teaching components holism (the approach to the content) and pluralism (the approach to teaching) has been launched as the educational approach to support this aim by empowering young people with action competence for a sustainable future. Environmental and sustainability certifications are commonly used by schools as support in their ESD-implementation efforts. To date, scholarly attention to, and critical reflection on the effects of such certification on students’ perceptions of sustainability have been limited.

This doctoral thesis focuses on this gap in ESD research through five large-scale studies, four of which were conducted in Sweden and one in Taiwan. Questionnaire instruments measuring students’ sustainability consciousness (SC) and their experiences of ESD were developed for the project.  In total, 2 413 students in Sweden and 1 741 students in Taiwan (grades six, nine and twelve) participated by filling in the SC questionnaire. The Swedish students also filled in questionnaires about their experiences of ESD at their schools in terms of holistic approach to content and pluralistic approach to teaching.

The results question the impact of schools’ environmental and sustainability certification on students’ SC. The results also show the importance of holism and pluralism in ESD for students’ SC, regardless of whether schools were certified or not. Moreover, the findings reveal an adolescent dip in students’ SC as well as a gender gap, both of which were reinforced among students in the certified schools.

Given the findings, this thesis can give more generalizable guidance for schools and certifying organizations to further reorient ESD towards teaching and learning approaches that have an effect on student SC.

Abstract [en]

Education for sustainable development (ESD) has been launched worldwide to empower young people by providing them with action competence for a sustainable future. ESD certifications are commonly used by schools as support in their ESD implementation efforts. To date, scholarly attention to and critical reflection on the effects of such certification on students’ perceptions of sustainability have been limited.

This doctoral thesis focuses on this gap in ESD research through five large-scale studies of which four were conducted in Sweden (N=2413) and one in Taiwan (N=1741). Questionnaire instruments measuring students’ sustainability consciousness (SC) and experiences of ESD were developed for the project. The findings reveal that the effect of ESD certifications on students’ SC is limited. The results also show positive effects of ESD on students’ SC in the form of the teaching approaches based on holism and pluralism, regardless whether schools were ESD certified or not. Moreover, results also reveal that in the certified schools the general adolescent dip and gender gap in students’ SC were reinforced. Given the findings, this thesis can give more generalizable empirical guidance for schools and certifying organizations to further reorient education towards ESD.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2018. p. 104
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2018:48
Keywords
Education for sustainable development, effects, environmental and sustainability education, holism and pluralism, students, sustainability consciousness
National Category
Other Biological Topics
Research subject
Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-69838 (URN)978-91-7063-887-9 (ISBN)978-91-7063-982-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-12-14, 1B 364 (Frödingsalen), Karlstad, 13:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-11-23 Created: 2018-10-23 Last updated: 2018-11-23Bibliographically approved

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Olsson, DanielGericke, NiklasShu-Nu, Chang-Rundgren

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