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Young People's "Sustainability Consciousness": Effects of ESD Implementation in Swedish Schools
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Environmental and Life Sciences. (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7976-4860
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. , 67 p.
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2014:56
Series
Studies in Science and Technology Education, Linköping University, ISSN 1652-5051
Keyword [en]
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: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-33797ISBN: 978-91-7063-594-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-33797DiVA: diva2:749142
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: 2014-10-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The effect of implementation of education for sustainable development in Swedish compulsory schools: Assesing pupils' sustainability consciousness
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The effect of implementation of education for sustainable development in Swedish compulsory schools: Assesing pupils' sustainability consciousness
2016 (English)In: Environmental Education Research, ISSN 1350-4622, E-ISSN 1469-5871, Vol. 22, no 2, 176-202 p.Article 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
Keyword
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:nbn:se:kau:diva-33773 (URN)10.1080/13504622.2015.1005057 (DOI)000371816300002 ()
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: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. The adolescent dip in students' sustainability consciousness: Implications for education for sustainable development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The adolescent dip in students' sustainability consciousness: Implications for education for sustainable development
2016 (English)In: The Journal of Environmental Education, ISSN 0095-8964, E-ISSN 1940-1892, Vol. 47, no 1, 35-51 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous research has shown that interest in and concern about environmental issues tends to decrease in adolescence, but less is known about adolescents' broader consciousness of sustainable development, also including economic and social issues. This study investigates students' sustainability consciousness in the transition to adolescence. This was done by surveying 2,413 Swedish students in the sixth, ninth and twelfth grades using an age-adapted questionnaire. The results unambiguously show that Swedish students' sustainability consciousness dips in adolescence, strongly indicating a need to modify the sustainability education for adolescents. Education for sustainable development is recommended as an approach to meet that need.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2016
Keyword
Adolescents, Education for Sustainable Development, Sustainability attitudes, Sustainability behavior, Sustainability Consciousness
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Biology; Education; Environmental Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-33775 (URN)10.1080/00958964.2015.1075464 (DOI)000366212100003 ()
Funder
Swedish Research Council, B0589701
Note

The article is part of the thesis Young People's "Sustainability Consciousness" and was in manuscript form at the time the thesis was published.

Available from: 2014-09-22 Created: 2014-09-22 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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