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Developing activities for assessing “wicked sustainability problem”-literacy: a collaborative action research approach
Chalmers tekniska högskola. (UmSER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9667-2044
2016 (English)In: European Conference on Educational Research, Dublin, Ireland, 23-26 August, 2016, 2016Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The world faces increasingly complex and “wicked” challenges to sustainability, such as climate change, resource scarcity, global health problems, or pollution. One of the main goals of environmental and sustainability education (ESE), especially in higher education, should therefore be to prepare students to deal with such wicked sustainability problems (WSPs) in productive, proactive, just, responsible, and flexible ways. In this project, we call students’ ability to deal with WSPs in such ways “WSP-literacy” (c.f. authors 2015). 

 

The overall aim of our project was to develop concrete, practical approaches to ESE that can support (engineering) students’ development of WSP-literacy. In conversations about the results from previous theoretical work on how engineering students approach WSPs (authors, forthcoming), engineering educators identified a lack of adequate assessment activities as one important factor that currently may inhibit better education for WSP-literacy. This finding is in line with a basic assumption in constructive alignment theory (Biggs 1996; Biggs 2014): that assessment activities not only serve to trackstudent learning, but actually influencestudent learning and that they therefore not should be treated as an afterthought in designing educational programs.

To address the lack of adequate assessment activities for WSP-literacy, we have chosen to work together with ESE practitioners. We held three workshops in different settings: at a local seminar with ESE practitioners in 2014, at a local pedagogical conference at a technical university in 2015, and at an international conference with engineering ESE practitioners and researchers in 2016. We summarized and refined the results from each workshop and used them as a starting point for the following workshop. In that way, we facilitated educators’ work with developing, first, a matrix of intended learning outcomes, and second, concrete examples of how these learning outcomes could be assessed. 

In our presentation, we will describe the research process, the learning outcomes, and selected examples of assessment activities. We will also attempt to draw conclusions about common features of promising assessment activities. This could guide further development of activities for a range of specific contexts, as well as further research into what characterizes “good” assessment in ESE. 

 

Our project was carried out mainly in the context of engineering education, but since WSPs in themselves cannot be reduced to single disciplinary approaches, we expect the results to be valuable to ESE in a broad range of higher education programs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
Keywords [en]
Wicked problem, assessment, engineering education, action research
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
didactics of natural science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-158213OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-158213DiVA, id: diva2:1305359
Conference
ECER 2016
Available from: 2019-04-16 Created: 2019-04-16 Last updated: 2019-04-30Bibliographically approved

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https://eera-ecer.de/ecer-programmes/conference/21/contribution/38221/

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Lönngren, Johanna

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