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  • 1.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Developing assessment activities for “wicked sustainability problem”-°©‐literacy in engineering education2016Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The objective of this workshop is twofold: Firstly, we will discuss “wicked sustainability problems” (WSPs) and “WSP-literacy” as useful concepts in engineering education for sustainable development. Secondly, we will collaboratively develop concrete assessment activities for WSP-literacy. We expect that participants will be able to directly apply (some of) the developed activities in their own teaching.

    In order to support sustainable development through engineering education, we need to train students to deal with complex and contested problems that lack single right solutions (here called wicked sustainability problems, WSPs). In this workshop, we will discuss what students need to learn to be able to deal with such problems and how such learning can be assessed in the context of engineering education.

    The workshop builds on the paper “Assessing “Wicked Sustainability Problem” – Literacy in Engineering Education” (Lönngren & Svanström 2015), for which the authors received the Environmental Engineering Division’s award for best graduate student paper at the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference. The paper introduces the concept of WSP-literacy, presents a matrix of 22 intended learning outcomes (ILOs) for WSP-literacy, and discusses two approaches to assessing (some of) them in engineering education.

    In this workshop, we will develop further approaches for assessing ILOs for WSP-literacy in engineering education. After the workshop, participants are expected to be able to independently apply the assessment activities to their own teaching. 

    The workshop is structured as follows:

    1. Introduction to the concepts of WSPs and WSP-literacy
    2. Discussion of ILOs for WSP-literacy and requirements for assessment of WSPs
    3. Discussion of two assessment strategies for (some of) the ILOs
    4. Group work: develop own assessment activities for selected ILOs
    5. Presentations of group work and feedback from other groups
    6. Summarizing discussion and evaluation of the workshop 

    The workshop is part of an ongoing research project and will therefore be audio-recorded for later analysis. The facilitator will summarize the results from the workshop and distribute them to interested participants.

    In preparation of the workshop, participants are encouraged to complete a short pre-workshop questionnaire and read the paper “Assessing “Wicked Sustainability Problem” – Literacy in Engineering Education”, which is available here:dx.doi.org/10.18260/p.23585.

  • 2.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
    Exploring the Discursive Construction of Ethics in an Introductory Engineering Course2019In: 8th Research in Engineering Education Symposium (REES 2019): Making connections, 2019, p. 262-271Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Engineering education must prepare students to assume professional responsibility for the societal impact of technology. However, research suggests that most engineering students do not receive adequate training for assuming this responsibility. In this paper, I explore why this may be so. Using a discourse analytic approach on ethnographic field notes and interview data, I explore how ethical reflection is articulated in an introductory engineering course in Sweden. The preliminary results suggest that – despite the teachers’ intentions – ethical reflection is articulated as something that is easy, not very important, for which there are no valid quality criteria, and which cannot be improved. Three factors seem to have contributed to this articulation: 1. low requirements for passing the tasks that included ethical reflection; 2. focus on general requirements for essays and reports at university, rather than on the quality of ethical reflection; and 3. lack of constructive feedback on ethical reflection.

  • 3.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
    “It’s okay, nobody can read it anyways”: Experiences of using stenography in ethnographic fieldwork2019Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Most ethnographic fieldwork involves producing jottings: brief written notes that are taken during field observations and that later serve as a memory support for constructing detailed fieldnotes. In producing jottings, ethnographers face the challenge of recording as much detail as possible. The literature is replete with advice on whatto record, but there is less guidance on howto produce jottings as quickly and efficiently as possible. While many experienced ethnographers have developed their own systems of abbreviations, novice ethnographers may find it difficult to develop their own jotting system in parallell with their first fieldwork. A novice ethnographer myself, I faced this challenge as I prepared for my first ethnographic fieldwork last year. To address the challenge, I decided to learn stenography. In the literature, stenography is sporadically mentioned as one possible way of speeding up the production of jottings. However, there is a lack of concrete and detailed descriptions of how the use of stenography may affect ethnographic research. To address this lack, the aim of this methodological contribution is to describe and evaluate the use of a specific stenographic system, the Melin system, in the context of an ethnographic study in a first-year engineering program in Sweden.

    In this study, the use of the Melin system of stenography facilitated the production of jottings by speeding up note taking and reducing wrist pain, thus allowing me to take more notes for longer periods of observation and to often include verbal quotes. However, I experienced difficulties in reading my own stenographic notes, which resulted in slower translation of jottings into detailed fieldnotes. The use of stenography had other important effects on the research: 1) The slower process of producing fieldnotes gave me more time to reflect on my observations while writing fieldnotes, thus facilitating continuous analysis in parallell with on-going fieldwork. 2) Stenography effectively rendered my jottings unreadable to anybody except myself. This allowed me to take notes without restrictions and it allowed participants to more comfortably talk about sensitive topics because “nobody can read it [the notes] anyways”. 3) It elicited interest and appreciation from research participants, thus contributing to initiate conversations and build rapport. 4) It made the research more enjoyable, which helped to mediate stress and anxiety during my first fieldwork experiences.

    In this methodological contribution, I describe and evaluate the use of stenography for producing jottings in a concrete ethnographic research project. The results provide insights for ethnographers who find a need to develop the way in which they produce and use jottings. Specifically, the results help researchers to take more informed decisions about whether or not stenography may be a viable alternative. The results may be particularly valuable for novice ethnographers who, maybe for the first time, face the challenge of producing jottings quickly and efficiently.

  • 4.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Navigating the maze of teaching and learning for sustainable development in engineering education: “Perspective shift” in relation to other key competences2012Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) is challenging for both educators and students, partly due to the inherent complexity of the subject and the competences required to work for a sustainable development. Many EESD competences are today ill-defined and their mutual relationships and hierarchies are often unclear. As educators try to develop adequate learning sequences, and teaching and learning strategies, they wonder where to start, where to aim, and which route to take. 

    The aim of this paper is to shed light on a specific part of the maze which EESD competences compose. We report on research which aims at creating a conceptual model of one key competence in EESD, the ability to shift perspectives. Based on the findings from two different studies, we discuss how this ability interacts, overlaps, or competes with other EESD competences. It is our hope that this work will serve as a basis for future research into the character of, and interrelatedness of, EESD competences. Our long-term ambition is to create a comprehensive “map” which can guide educators and students in the field of engineering through the maze of teaching and learning for a sustainable future.

  • 5.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Understanding Complexity Related to Wicked Sustainability Problems2014Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 6.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
    Wicked problems: A systematic review of the literature2019Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Sustainability challenges are often described as wicked problems(Lönngren, 2017; Norton, 2012). The term was first introduced in 1967 in a seminar at the University of California Architecture Department in Berkeley, USA. In the seminar, design professor Horst Rittel suggested “that the term ‘wicked problem’ refer to that class of social system problems which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision makers with conflicting values, and where the ramifications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing. The adjective ‘wicked’ is supposed to describe the mischievous and even evil quality of these problems, where proposed ‘solutions’ often turn out to be worse than the symptoms” (Churchman, 1967, p. B141). In 1973, Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber published a seminal paper in which they described ten characteristics that distinguish wicked problems from “tame” problems (Rittel & Webber, 1973). Since 1973, the number of research papers in which the term “wicked problems” is used has steadily increased: A search in the Scopus database (12 Jan 2019) shows that, between 1973-1993, less than ten papers were published every year; this number increased to up to 54 papers per year between 1994-2011 and up to 218 papers per year between 2012-2018. Similarly, a search on “wicked problems” in Google scholar returned 15000 entries in March 2015 (McCall & Burge, 2016)and 20900 entries in January 2018. Consistent with the increasing use of the term in the research literature in general, Norton argues that the term becomes increasingly relevant for research on environmental problems since “environmental problems become more open-ended, more complex, and situation-dependent” (2012, p. 463). The term is also used in environmental and sustainability education research (ESER), for example in two research seminars at the 2016 European Conference on Educational Research. At these seminars, the presenters argued that wicked problems “bring about major challenges” for education and raise difficult questions, such as “how to deal with unstable and contested knowledge in educational processes” (Van Poeck, McKenzie, et al., 2016; Van Poeck, Östman, et al., 2016).

    Despite the increasing use of the term, the research community is divided with regard to the definition and value of the term. Some researchers argue that wicked problems is a useful concept since it “alerts educators to the limitations of any vision that narrowly directs the approach to solve it” (Jordan, Kleinsasser, & Roe, 2014, p. 420)and thus enables “people to give up the unrealistic hope for scientific solutions to tame the untamable” (Xiang, 2013, p. 2). Others argue that the term is “jargon” (Anon., 2016), is put to many different (often rhetorical) uses (Turnbull & Hoppe, 2017; Xiang, 2013), lacks a “firm conceptual base” (Turnbull & Hoppe, 2017, p. 2), and is outdated (Turnbull & Hoppe, 2017). Turnbull and Hoppe further argue that “there has been no convergence whatsoever on which problems are wicked nor what we should do about them” (2017, p. 4)and that the ontological assumptions underlying the term may “perpetuate the reductionist paradigm that it was designed to overcome”(2017, p. 25). While several thematic and critical overviews of the wicked problem literature have been published (Duckett, Feliciano, Martin-Ortega, & Munoz-Rojas, 2016; Lönngren, 2017; Turnbull & Hoppe, 2017; Xiang, 2013), we have not found any systematicreview. The aim of this contribution is therefore to provide a systematic review of the wicked problems literature and thus a basis for convergence and “cumulative growth of understanding” (Borrego, Foster, & Froyd, 2014, p. 50). A further purpose is to discuss the value of the term for theoretical and empirical work in different research fields and specifically in ESER.

    In 2009, Grant and Booth developed a typology of 14 different types of research reviews. In our review, we follow their description of a “systematic search and review”, which combines a systematic search of research evidence with a critical appraisal of the included literature. We also follow Borrego et al.’s description of how to conduct systematic literature reviews in developing interdisciplinary fields (such as ESER) that rely heavily on qualitative research rather than experimental studies (Borrego et al., 2014). According to Borrego et al., “systematic reviews follow transparent, methodical, and reproducible procedures that might be grouped broadly into two arenas: (1) selecting a collection of appropriate studies that will address the review question from the vast and rapidly increasing knowledge base and (2) extracting trends, patterns, relationships, and the overall picture from the collected studies” (Borrego et al., 2014, p. 50).

    To identify relevant literature, we search for peer-reviewed publication in general databases for journals, conference proceedings and theses. We search for papers that mention the term “wicked problem” anywhere in the publication and/or cite Rittel and Webber’s (1973) seminal paper. We then analyse and synthesise the selected publications with regard to the following questions:

    1. How is the term wicked problems defined in the literature? What are important similarities and differences between descriptions of the term?
    2. What ontological and epistemological assumptions underlie descriptions of wicked problems in the literature?
    3. How is the value of the term wicked problems for different research purposes described in the literature?
    4. What differences and similarities can be identified with regard to how the definition, underlying philosophical assumptions, and the value of the term is described in different research fields, national/cultural contexts, and/or over time?

    Based on the systematic review of the literature, we critically assess the state of empirical and theoretical research on wicked problems. We attempt to identify points of convergence and divergence in the literature. 

    In addition to these general results, we specifically discuss how the term has been used in ESER. ESER is an interdisciplinary research field with “widely differing discourses” (Sauvé, 2005)and an “extraordinary diversity of perspectives” (Ardoin, Clark, & Kelsey, 2013): research in the field is based on a large variety of ontological and epistemological assumptions. Due to this variety, we expect that our discussion of ontological and epistemological assumptions in the wicked problems in the literature will be of particular value for ESER. We expect that the perceived value of the term differs depending on basic philosophical assumptions that underlie different strands of research in ESER.

    Finally, we discuss implications for future research on wicked problems in ESER and other research fields. 

  • 7.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Wicked Problems in Engineering Education2017In: European Conference on Educational Research, Copenhagen, Denmark, 22-25 August, 2017, 2017Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the Environmental and Sustainability Education Research (ESER) community

    in how to prepare students to address wicked problems (WPs), i.e. particularly ill-structured problems that lack single right solutions

    and that are characterized by a high degree of complexity, uncertainty and the presence of conflicting norms and values (Rittel &

    Webber, 1973). In the domain of Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE), examples of WPs are climate change, resource

    scarcity and resource-related international conflict. At the 2016 ECER conference, two full symposia were devoted to research on

    WPs in ESE. Also in other fields, such as the field of Engineering Education Research, the concept of WPs is receiving increasing

    attention. However, the body of empirical research on how to prepare students to address WPs is still limited. In this contribution, I

    aim to contribute to the empirical and theoretical discussion on WPs in ESER and Engineering Education Research by providing a

    summary of my PhD thesis on WPs in engineering education.

    An important aim of my research is to contribute to educational practice. Therefore, I have chosen a pragmatic approach in which I

    have combined several different theoretical frameworks and research methodologies. Due to the lack of previous research, I started

    with conceptual/theoretical research to establish a theoretical base from which I then proceeded to empirical/applied research.

    I performed four research studies in which I investigated different aspects of WPs in engineering education. In the first study, I

    developed a conceptual foundation to better understand the nature of WPs and different ways of addressing them. Second, I

    performed an empirical study to identify different approaches to WPs. Third, I collaborated with engineering educators to identify

    fruitful ways to further develop the theoretical insights from the first two studies such that these insights could contribute to

    educational practice. Finally, I performed an intervention study to develop, implement and evaluate an approach to teaching and

    assessing an integrative understanding of WPs in an engineering education context. The research from these studies is reported in

    four journal papers and two conference papers (see references).

    Based on the studies and a review of research literature from ESER, Engineering Education Research and related fields, I will

    address the following questions in my presentation:

    1. What are WPs?

    2. What are different ways of approaching WPs and which of them is most in line with the general aims of ESE?

    3. What do engineering students need to learn to address WPs in a way that is in line with the general aims of ESE?

    4. How can understanding the nature of WPs be taught and assessed in engineering education?

    5. What questions remain?

    I used a pragmatic approach to research methodology rather than restricting the research to a single theoretical or methodological

    approach. In my presentation, I will report on four research studies. I will combine the insights gained from these studies in an

    attempt to answer more general questions about wicked problems in engineering education than would be possible for each study in

    isolation. This is possible because the studies build on each other: In the later studies, I used the results from earlier studies as a

    basis for formulating new research questions and for designing studies to answer those questions. Depending on the aims of each

    study, I chose different methodological approaches.

    In the first study, I used a conceptual/theoretical approach, supported by content analysis of qualitative interviews with ten engineering students. In the second study, I chose a phenomenographic approach, using the same empirical material as in the first study. In the third study, I used the results from the first and second study as a theoretical basis for an action research project in which I collaborated with engineering educators to identify ways to render the theoretical results from the first two studies more useful for educational practice. Finally, in the fourth study, I aimed to respond to the needs that the educators expressed in the third study. For this purpose, I used a design-based research approach to develop and evaluate an educational intervention for teaching engineering students to understand the nature of WPs, and an assessment rubric to assess students’ learning in the intervention. Both the intervention and the assessment rubric are theoretically grounded in the results from the first, second and third study. To evaluate the intervention and the rubric, I used a mixed-methods approach in which I combined quantitative analysis of student performance and rubric reliability with qualitative analysis of student learning and rubric validity and utility.

    In the first study, we developed a conceptual framework for talking about the use of multiple perspectives when addressing WPs. We further identified the need to not only shift between multiple perspectives, but also integrate those perspectives when addressing WPs. In the second study, we described four qualitatively different ways of approaching a WP. We identified one of these approaches, a fully integrative approach, as most in line with the general aims of ESE. In the third study, we identified a need to develop tools for assessing engineering students’ ability to integratively address WPs. Finally, in the fourth study, we developed an analytic rubric to assess students’ written responses to WPs, and an educational intervention that is heavily based on the rubric. In that study, we found that the rubric provided opportunities for students to learn to understand the nature of WPs and to craft written responses to WPs. We also found that the rubric could be used to assess that learning, and that it also was useful for teacher training and formative assessment. However, we also found that the rubric may have provided too much cognitive scaffolding, thus excessively guiding the process of responding to WPs and not supporting deep engagement with the wickedness of the process of addressing WPs. In conclusion, we suggested that preparing students to address WPs may require limiting the amount of cognitive scaffolding, even when students express frustration about the presence of uncertainty and value conflicts and a lack of clear directions and definite answers. We further suggested that future research should investigate the relationship between cognitive and affective scaffolding, for example whether it could be possible to replace some cognitive scaffolding with affective scaffolding to limit the negative effects of students’ frustration without having to tame the process of addressing WPs.

  • 8.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
    Wicked Problems in Engineering Education: Preparing Future Engineers to Work for Sustainability2019In: Environmental Education Research, ISSN 1350-4622, E-ISSN 1469-5871Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    An important aim of environmental and sustainability education (ESE) is to prepare students for addressing complex sustainability problems (here called “wicked problems”), such as climate change and resource management. This aim is particularly important in engineering education since technological development has profound impacts on social and environmental welfare. Unfortunately, most engineering education today does not adequately prepare students to contribute to addressing wicked problems. The thesis addressed this gap by asking: RQ1) What do engineering students need to learn to be able to address wicked problems? And RQ2) How can the ability to address wicked problems be taught and assessed in engineering education?

    To answer RQ1, the author interviewed undergraduate engineering students in Sweden analyzed the interviews through qualitative content analysis and phenomenography. To answer RQ2, the author collaborated with engineering educators in Sweden and the United States through pragmatic action research and design-based research to develop teaching and assessment approaches. Research results included descriptions of engineering students’ approaches to wicked problems as well as didactic tools for engineering education practice. The results suggested that emotions play an important (but under-research) role in learning to address wicked problems, which is consistent with a growing interest in emotions in ESE research and practice. Finally, the results supported previous suggestions that the term “wicked problems” is undertheorized and motivated the author’s current work with a systematic review of how the term is used in research on ESE.

    The thesis is interdisciplinary as it draws on, and contributes to, research and practice in both ESE and engineering education. The thesis has attracted genuine interest in the context of engineering education, for example in the form of requests for workshops on how to work with wicked problems in engineering education. This interest is consistent with a growing interest in engineering education research to explore how sustainability could be better integrated in engineering education. Unfortunately, in ESE research, there seems to be a relative lack of interest for engineering education, despite the importance of technological development for social and environmental welfare. The thesis thus makes an important contribution to broadening the scope of ESE research.

  • 9.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Adawi, Tom
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Svanström, Magdalena
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Scaffolding strategies in a rubric-based intervention to promote engineering students’ ability to address wicked problems2019In: European Journal of Engineering Education, ISSN 0304-3797, E-ISSN 1469-5898, Vol. 44, no 1-2, p. 196-221Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In recent years, there has been increasing interest within the engineering education research community to prepare engineering students to address wicked problems (WPs) such as climate change, resource scarcity and violent conflict. Previous research suggests that engineering students are able to address WPs if they are given adequate support, but there is a lack of research on what kinds of support are needed. This paper aims to reduce this gap by reporting on students’ performance in, and approaches to, addressing WPs when different scaffolding strategies were used in different parts of a rubric-based intervention. The intervention aimed to provide undergraduate engineering students with an understanding of the nature of WPs and with a structured way of addressing them. For each part of the intervention, we discuss affordances for learning provided by the different scaffolding strategies. The results suggest that strong cognitive scaffolding can support students’ understanding of the nature of WPs and students’ performance in written responses to WPs, but possibly also limits deep engagement with WPs and transfer of learning to other contexts.

  • 10.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Adawi, Tom
    Svanström, Magdalena
    Wicked problems and assessment in engineering education: Developing and evaluating an analytic rubric2017In: 7th Research in Engineering Education Symposium (REES 2017): Research in Engineering Education, 2017, p. 678-691Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Previous research indicates that engineering education does not adequately prepare students to address complex, ill-structured, real-world problems, such as wicked problems (WPs), and that one reason for this may be a lack of robust assessment instruments. In recent years, assessment rubrics have been developed and evaluated for a variety of learning outcomes, but no rigorously tested rubric has yet been developed for assessing engineering students’ ability to integratively address WPs. The aim of this paper is to fill this gap by introducing an analytic rubric for assessing engineering students’ written responses to WPs and evaluating its reliability, validity, and utility. The results suggest that the rubric can support reliable and valid assessment if raters are carefully trained. The utility of the rubric for formative assessment and teacher professional development was most prominent.

  • 11.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Lund University, Faculty of Engineering (LTH).
    Ahrens, Andreas
    Lund University, Faculty of Engineering (LTH).
    Deppert, Knut
    Lund University, Faculty of Engineering (LTH).
    Hammarin, Greger
    Lund University, Faculty of Engineering (LTH).
    Nilsson, Elisabeth
    Lund University, Faculty of Engineering (LTH).
    Sustainable Development in Nano-Perspectives: An Innovative Student Initiative2010Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper describes and discusses a novel class for sustainable development at the faculty of engineering at Lund University, Sweden. Based on personal experience and student questionnaires, the study discusses applied pedagogical approaches (case study, role play, matrix approach) and suggests improvements to the structure of the class. The project is a student initiative, making student involvement and its effects on learning for sustainable development central topics of this paper, thereby challenging the notion of engineering students as passive receivers of education for sustainable development.

  • 12.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Ingerman, Åke
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Svanström, Magdalena
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Avoid, Control, Succumb, or Balance: Engineering Students’ Approaches to a Wicked Sustainability Problem2017In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898, Vol. 47, no 4, p. 805-831Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Wicked sustainability problems (WSPs) are an important and particularly challenging type of problem. Science and engineering education can play an important role in preparing students to deal with such problems, but current educational practice may not adequately prepare students to do so. We address this gap by providing insights related to students’ abilities to address WSPs. Specifically, we aim to (I) describe key constituents of engineering students’ approaches to a WSP, (II) evaluate these approaches in relation to the normative context of education for sustainable development (ESD), and (III) identify relevant aspects of learning related to WSPs. Aim I is addressed through a phenomenographic study, while aims II and III are addressed by relating the results to research literature about human problem solving, sustainable development, and ESD. We describe four qualitatively different ways of approaching a specific WSP, as the outcome of the phenomenographic study: A. Simplify and avoid, B. Divide and control, C. Isolate and succumb, and D. Integrate and balance. We identify approach D as the most appropriate approach in the context of ESD, while A and C are not. On this basis, we identify three learning objectives related to students’ abilities to address WSPs: learn to use a fully integrative approach, distinguish WSPs from tame and well-structured problems, and understand and consider the normative context of SD. Finally, we provide recommendations for how these learning objectives can be used to guide the design of science and engineering educational activities.

  • 13.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Jacobsson, Daniel
    Lunds universitet.
    Mårsell, Erik
    Lunds universitet.
    Nilsson, Elisabeth
    Lunds universitet.
    Breaking Catch22 of Engineering Education for Sustainable Development: An Example of Parallell Learning of Teachers and Students2012Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Both research and practical experience show that teachers have trouble implementing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) (Bursjöö 2011), especially in engineering education where a culture of value-neutrality and objectivity still seems to prevail (see for example Holmberg et al 2008). Consequently, the integration of ESD into engineerig curricula is often insufficient in respect to requirements set up by the Swedish Higher Education Act: graduates of engineering are expected to possess complex skills connected to ethics and sustainable development (Högskoleförordningen 1993).

    The purpose of this presentation is to provide a positive example of how these problems have been overcome in a specific engineering program at Lund University. We discuss the introduction of an innovative course by a group of students and faculty without substantive prior expertise or experience in Engineering Education for Sustainable Delopment (EESD).

     We (some of the course developers/course leaders) use collaborative action research methodology to discuss similarities and differences in teachers’ (ours) and students’ learning in the process of creating and subsequently improving this specific EESD-intervention. Our analysis is based on personal reflections and focus group discussions by the course developers/course leaders,  as well as students’ course evaluations from three consecutive years, and EESD litterature.

    As an analytical lens, we use the concept of Communities of Practice(CoP). We identify two levels of CoPs: 1. The team of teachers (senior teachers in collaboration with highly motivated students) working with the course over the years, and 2. All actors involved in each years’ course cycle. This includes both a group of teachers and the enroled students. In relation to these CoPs, we also identify two (partly overlapping) cycles of action learningwhich relate, respectively, to the course development over the years, and our work with each specific course cycle. The purpose of this analysis and discussion is to uncover parallell learning of teachers and students as the course evolves.

    Another purpose is to facilitate the implementation of EESD. Therefore, we also reflect on the perceived prerequisite of teachers’ expertise for teaching sustainable development in engineering curricula. We discuss the specific conditions that allowed the creation and execution of our course with the aim to empower other teachers to venture on the undertaking of EESD in their courses by trusting the development of their own skills “by doing EESD”. Thus we hope to contribute to an icnreased integration of ESD into engineering programs in Sweden and abroad.

  • 14.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Chalmers University of Technology.
    Svanström, Magdalena
    Chalmers University of Technology.
    Assessing "Wicked Sustainability Problem" - Literacy in Engineering Education2015Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Environmental and sustainability problems are not purely technical problems. Many of the most pressing issues, such as climate change, resource scarcity, and pollution, require holistic approaches that go beyond technical systems analysis and optimization. Such problems have been called wicked sustainability problems (WSPs) because they are highly complex, contested, and lack definite solutions1,2.

    Engineering education has the potential to play an important role in preparing students to contribute to deal with problems such as WSP3,4. To be able to contribute in this way, students need to develop an ability to holistically and integratively understand and address WSPs while considering the normative context of sustainable development (here called WSP literacy). However, common practice in engineering education more commonly prepares students to address well-structured and tame rather than wicked problems5,6 . One reason may be that working together to develop complex competencies such as WSP literacy is challenging for students as well as educators. Wiek, Withycombe, and Redman suggest that formulating and operationalizing intended learning outcomes (ILOs) for complex competencies can facilitate this difficult process and thus improve engineering education practice4.

    In this paper, we provide a preliminary matrix of 22 concrete ILOs for WSP literacy, as well as two different approaches to assessing (some of) them in engineering education. We expect that engineering educators will find these ILOs and assessment strategies valuable for adopting a constructive alignment approach for WSP literacy in their teaching.

  • 15.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Svanström, Magdalena
    Developing activities for assessing “wicked sustainability problem”-literacy: a collaborative action research approach2016In: European Conference on Educational Research, Dublin, Ireland, 23-26 August, 2016, 2016Conference paper (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.

  • 16.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Svanström, Magdalena
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Systems thinking for dealing with wicked sustainability problems: beyond functionalist approaches2016In: New developments in engineering education for sustainable development / [ed] Walter Leal Filho and Susan Nesbit, Springer, 2016, p. 151-160Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Many of the most pressing sustainability issues are not purely technical problems. To work for sustainable development (SD) requires addressing wicked sustainability problems (WSPs), such as climate change, poverty, and resource scarcity. Previous research has shown that addressing WSPs is challenging for engineering students. In particular, students may feel overwhelmed by a WSP if they lack appropriate tools for dealing with the complexity, uncertainty, and value conflicts that are present in the situation. In this paper, we aim to investigate whether systems thinking competence (ST) can provide such a tool in engineering education for sustainable development (EESD). For this purpose, we elaborate on previous descriptions of WSPs, and draw on (E)ESD literature about ST to discuss different approaches to ST and their usefulness for addressing WSPs. We conclude that ST indeed can be valuable for addressing WSPs, but that it is necessary to be clear about how ST is defined. We suggest that mainstream approaches to ST in engineering education (EngE) are not sufficient for addressing WSPs.

  • 17.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Department of Applied IT, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
    Svanström, Magdalena
    Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
    Systems thinking for dealing with wicked sustainability problems: beyond functionalist approaches2015Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

     Many of the most pressing sustainability issues are not purely technical problems. To work for

    sustainable development (SD) requires addressing wicked sustainability problems (WSPs), such as

    climate change, poverty, and resource scarcity. Previous research has shown that addressing WSPs is

    challenging for engineering students. In particular, students may feel overwhelmed by a WSP if they lack

    appropriate tools for dealing with the complexity, uncertainty, and value conflicts that are present in the

    situation. In this paper, we aim to investigate whether systems thinking competence (ST) can provide

    such a tool in engineering education for sustainable development (EESD). For this purpose, we elaborate

    on previous descriptions of WSPs, and draw on (E)ESD literature about ST to discuss different

    approaches to ST and their usefulness for addressing WSPs. We conclude that ST indeed can be

    valuable for addressing WSPs, but that it is necessary to be clear about how ST is defined. We suggest

    that mainstream approaches to ST in engineering education (EngE) are not sufficient for addressing WSPs.

  • 18.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Svanström, Magdalena
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Transboundary Learning through Perspective Shift: Introducing a Theoretical Model of Perspective Shift as a Key Competence in Engineering Education for Sustainable Development2012Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) literature, perspective shiftis frequently mentioned as a key competence in ESD (see for example UNECE 2011, Wals 2010, Wals & Blaze Corcoran 2006, Svanström et al 2008, Tilbury 2011). ESD scholars point out the importance of designing teaching and learning activities which can help draw students’ attention to, and facilitate their understanding of, different perspectives. There is however a lack of concrete descriptions on how this ability to shift perspectives can be understood; this makes designing specific educational activities a difficult task.

    In this paper, we provide a model of perspective shift as a competence in Engineering ESD (EESD) and discuss how this competence can facilitate transboundary learning (TBL) and understanding. Our model is based on two separate studies in the context of Engineering Education. The first study is carried out within an undergraduate engineering course on sustainable development in which the course leaders actively try to incorporate as many different perspectives as possible. This study is based on in-depth interviews with course participants, video-recordings of group discussions in role play situations, student assignments, and personal observations. In the second study, doctoral students’ concept maps of their conceptualization of “Sustainability” are analyzed. The findings from both studies are combined to create a rich description of perspective shift in EESD.

    We identify three levels of TBL which can be facilitated by practicing different kinds of perspective shift: 1. crossing thematic boundaries such as intercultural, interdisciplinary, intergenerational, or interspatial boundaries; different scales and foci; or different ways of thinking; 2. crossing interpersonal boundaries; and 3. crossing boundaries of personal knowledge and experience horizons.

    It is our hope that this work can facilitate discussions about, and practical improvement of, teaching and learning activities for perspective shift, and thus transboundary learning, in both Engineering Education and in other settings.

  • 19.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Svanström, Magdalena
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Ingerman, Åke
    Göteborgs universitet.
    Holmberg, John
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Dealing with the multidimensionality of sustainability through the use of multiple perspectives: a theoretical framework2016In: European Journal of Engineering Education, ISSN 0304-3797, E-ISSN 1469-5898, Vol. 41, no 3, p. 342-352Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The concept of perspectives is important in discussions about the multidimensionality of sustainability problems and the need to consider many different aspects when dealing with them. This paper aims to facilitate discussions among both educators and researchers about didactical approaches to developing students’ abilities to deal with the multidimensionality of sustainability challenges through the use of multiple perspectives. For this purpose, a theoretical framework was developed that describes perspectives in terms of a set of general characteristics, as well as a number of ways in which students can develop and reflect on perspectives. Development of the framework was supported by a qualitative content analysis of transcripts from interviews with undergraduate engineering students in Sweden.

  • 20.
    Lönngren, Johanna
    et al.
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    Van Poeck, Katrien
    Ghent University.
    Simons, M
    Ghent University.
    Vandenabeele, J
    Ghent University.
    Eeckhout, E
    Ghent University.
    Lassoe, Jeppe
    Aarhus University.
    The relationship of theory and practice in ESE2014Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 21. Zhang, Zheng
    et al.
    Fyn, Dawn
    Langelotz, Lill
    Lönngren, Johanna
    Chalmers tekniska högskola.
    McCorquodale, Lisa
    Nehez, Jaana
    Our way(s) to action research: Doctoral students’ international and interdisciplinary collective memory work2014In: Action Research, ISSN 1476-7503, E-ISSN 1741-2617, Vol. 12, no 3, p. 293-314Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study involved six Swedish and Canadian doctoral students who shared interests in using action research in professional education in different disciplines. We employed Noffke’s three dimensions of action research as a theoretical framework (i.e., the Professional, the Personal, and the Political). Using collective biography as a methodology, we cooperatively examined how our personal and professional agendas and macro-level structures have been shaping our intentions to conduct action research projects in our respective disciplines. The key findings of this international and interdisciplinary collective biography relate our growing awareness of the intimacy between research and life in vari- ous professional and geographic contexts. Collectively addressing our shared frustrations, we celebrated action research as a methodology that attends to the dynamic and concrete lived experiences of our participants in various spatio-temporalities. Reflecting upon the hybridity of our own researcher identities, we were also able to see the intimate relation between ourselves as active citizens and critical action researchers who are determined to take up the challenges and engage in critically oriented action research that could nurture more ‘‘caring,’’ ‘‘empowering,’’ and ‘‘transforming’’ public spheres.

1 - 21 of 21
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