Educational outcomes of Learning for Sustainability: literature review

Literature review exploring the impact of Learning for Sustainability on educational outcomes.

Appendix F Additional Papers from Personal Knowledge (11 papers)

*Rating Paper Notes
** Andersson, K. et al (2013). Effects of education for sustainable development (ESD) on teacher education students. Sustainability. (5) 5135-5125. Focus on teacher education. Large-scale Swedish study demonstrates positive effects on attitudes (e.g. effects on almost all attitudes and perceptions including personal responsibility in relation to SD and willingness to contribute to SD compared with no noticeable effect in the control group). Positive change not based on pre-existing experience for orientations. Some implications for broader learning outcomes, potentially at other ages.
** Kalsoom, Q. & Khanam, A. (2017). Inquiry into sustainability issues by preservice teachers: a pedagogy to enhance sustainability consciousness. Journal of cleaner production, (164), 1301-1311. The authors employed action research coupled with enquiry-based learning. This study was conducted for women in teacher education in Pakistan. The final year students were asked to conduct the empirical investigations into sustainability issues and these and research-based discussions enhanced their understanding and sustainability consciousness, indicating the transformative potential of the enquiry-based learning. They make a nice point about complexity of ESD – "sustainability consciousness, an expected outcome of ESD, is a complex of cognitive and affective learning".
** Varga, A. et al (2007). Developing teacher competencies for sustainable development through reflection: the environment and school initiatives project. Journal of education for teaching, 33(2) p. 241– 256 The authors argue that as change is a key element in sustainable development, reflection should be a key aspect of such learning and should be encouraged. Whilst the study is focused primarily on teacher education it is interesting and may be useful.
** Higgins, S., Hall, E., Wall, K., Woolner, P. & McCaughey, C. (2005). The impact of school environments: literature review. Published by the Design Council and the Centre for learning in teaching, School of Education, University of Newcastle. Useful study of the design features of schools and their effectiveness.
*** Higgins, P., Thompson, D., and Rawcliffe, P. (2018). Learning outside the classroom boosts educational attainment. OL-focused. Evidence drawn from Scotland and USA studies – the latter based on a sound research design – conducted by psychologists (who referred to a 'nature advantage'). Attainment was not restricted to 'outdoor' subjects like geography – but maths etc. too.
*** Kollmus, A. & Agyeman, J. (2002). Mind the Gap. Why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro environmental behavior? Environmental education research. 8(3). 239-260. Multiple factors influence environmental behaviours. "Most researchers agree that only a small fraction of pro-environmental behaviour can be directly linked to environmental knowledge and environmental awareness" (250). In a reference to Chawla (1998) they state that amongst environmental educators "during childhood, the most influential were experiences of natural areas and family; going to lessons and early adulthood education and friends were mentioned most frequently, enduring adulthood it was pro- environmental organisations." The authors provide proposed model and structure on p. 257.
**** Laurie, R., Nonoyama-Tarumi, Y., McKeown, R. & Hopkins, C. (2016). Contributions of ESD to Quality Education: A Synthesis of Research. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 10 (2), p. 1-17. International study – 18 nations comparative, including Scotland. Found that "ESD contributes in many ways to quality education in primary and secondary schools. Teaching and learning transforms in all contacts when the curriculum includes sustainability content, and ESD pedagogy is promoting the learning of skills perspectives and values necessary to foster sustainable societies. The research also identified the need to integrate ESD across all subjects, to provide professional development for teachers to ensure the ESD policy implementation and to adopt ESD management practices to support ESD in the curriculum in order to broaden ESD across countries."
**** Tillmann, S., Tobin, D., Avison, W. & Gilland, J. (2018). Mental health benefits of interactions with nature in children and teenagers: a systematic review. Journal of epidemiology and community health. 72, 958- 66. (OL-focused). Literature review of 35 papers. Nature influences mental-health positively but more empirical research is needed. ADHD etc. is mentioned. Over half the findings (53 of 100) confirm statistically significant positive relationships i.e. positive benefits of nature, whereas the remaining findings were non-significant. Only one paper reported as single findings suggesting nature have negative effects on children's mental health. The final summary is valuable. Structure of review is useful. See figure showing filtering process to selection of articles excluded and texts read.
**** Sandri, O. J. (2013). Threshold concepts, systems and Learning for Sustainability. Environmental Education Research. 19(6), 810-822. Systems are core to sustainability. Refers to "Land and Mayer's notion of a threshold concept, to argue that seeing systems as the threshold concept for sustainability is useful for understanding the processes of Learning for Sustainability". Teaching sustainability through systems helps address real world issues. This may be an important mechanism for LFS impact on attainment (and real- world issues in the future). Some useful additional material here – including reference to constructivism etc.
**** Broom, C. (2017). Exploring the relations between childhood experiences in nature and young adults' environmental attitudes and behaviours. Australian Journal of environmental education. 33(1), 34-47. OL for environmental education. This also identifies relationships between early experiences in nature and values and actions as adults. Interesting observations on the significance of outdoor learning being structured for sustainability environmental awareness. Such learning is nurtured through environmental care discussions and critical thinking. Reflection and critical thinking are important. The article also mentions place-based learning and biophobia. Nice reference to E O Wilson (1984) where he discusses how "environmental ecological consciousness is theorized to connect to ecological identity and relates to an individual's deep reflection on, connection to, and engagement with the natural environment".
**** Kuo, M., Browning, M. & Penner, M. (2018). Do lessons in nature boost subsequent classroom engagement? Refueling students in flight. Frontiers in Psychology. (8)2253. Rigorous study of the impact of outdoor classroom learning across a range of subjects, student groups and weeks of the academic term. Results indicate that students are better able to concentrate whilst in nature and after. The results were statistically significant and independent of teacher effects. As pairs of lessons were matched (indoors and outdoors) the advantage of the nature-based lessons could not be attributed to the teacher, the topic and approach to teaching, the week of semester, the time of day, or the nature of the lesson
**** Kuo M., Barnes M. & Jordan C. (2019). Do experiences with nature promote learning? Converging evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship. Frontiers in Psychology (10) 305 URL= This is a substantial review. The authors conclude that there is a 'coherent narrative: experiences with nature do promote children's academic learning and seem to promote children’s development as persons and as environmental stewards – and at least eight distinct pathways plausibly contribute to these outcomes' (p. 2). Five of these are centred on the learner and three on the ways natural settings may stimulate this. There are justifiable critiques relating to the interface between development and learning, and indeed the nature of learning, but nonetheless this review adds further to arguments that are becoming well- established for both child (and indeed adult) development and learning.



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