To promote sustainability, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasizes a need for developing knowledge and skills in all learners through education for sustainability (EfS) (UN, 2015). Environmental and sustainability education is stressed in the Swedish preschool curriculum, which states that all preschools should strive to ensure that each child develops respect for all forms of life as well as care for the surrounding environment (Skolverket, Lpfö 98 Rev. 2010). In Sweden, preschools can be awarded two different eco-certifications; about 1500 preschools are certified with ‘Green flag’ and about 200 schools hold ‘Preschool for Sustainable Development’ certification (Ärlemalm-Hagsér, 2013). However, no national evaluation strategy has been developed. In fact, there is a general lack of research on and evaluations of EfS program effectiveness in whole-school sustainability programs globally (Henderson & Tilbury, 2004). The aim of this paper is to describe the development of an instrument which was used to explore and compare the outcomes of eco- and non-eco preschools in terms of children’s understandings and practices of environmental and sustainability issues. ‘Eco-preschool’ refers to a preschool that works explicitly with EfS. The terms ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development’ are used synonymously in this paper. Using a three-interlocking-circles framework, which portrays the equal importance and interdependency of environmental, social and economic dimensions (Elliott, 2013), the concept of sustainability Brundtland (1987) was operationalized in three themes: (i) transport use and recycling, (ii) consumption and (iii) resource sharing. Based on Bruner (1966) Iconic (age 1-6 years) mode of representation, which states that information stored in the form of images and illustrations can be helpful for children’s understanding of an issue, a semi-structured, illustrated interview instrument was developed. Children’s practices were explored through a play-based approach where children performed recycling activities. The instrument was pre-tested with eight children in order to finalize the question design, question wording, appropriateness of illustrations, interview techniques and timing, as well as to collect information on open-ended questions with a view of changing some of them into multiple choice questions. Applying a cross-sectional design, 53 children, aged five and six, were interviewed during February-June 2015. The interviews were audio recorded. Besides describing the development of the instrument, preliminary results from the interview will be presented at the symposium.
Brundtland, G. H. (1987). World Commission on environment and development: our common future. Oxford University Press. Bruner, J. S. (1966). Toward a theory of instruction (Vol. 59). Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Elliott, J. A. (2013). An introduction to sustainable development. London: Routledge. Henderson, K., & Tilbury, D. (2004). Whole-school approaches to sustainability: An international review of sustainable school programs. Report Prepared by the Australian Research Institute in Education for Sustainability (ARIES) for The Department of the Environment and Heritage, Australian Government. ISBN, 1(86408), 979. Skolverket. (Lpfö 98 Rev. 2010). Curriculum for the preschool. The Swedish National Agency for Education. Retrieved 08-03, 2013, from Skolverket website: http//www.skolverket.se UN. (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Retrieved 02-12, 2015, from http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E, accessed 03-12-2015 Ärlemalm-Hagsér, E. (2013). Engagerade i världens bästa? : lärande för hållbarhet i förskolan. Göteborg: Acta universitatis Gothoburgensis.
Dublin: University College Dublin , 2016. 1-165 p.
ECER (European Conference on Educational Research), 23-26 August 2016, University College Dublin, Ireland