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Development of action competence using Education for Sustainability in a New Zealand school

This thesis explores whether an intervention carried out with a senior secondary school Environmental Science class was able to develop action competence in Education for Sustainability (EfS) in the students. The concept of action competence was initially proposed by Danish researchers who were dissatisfied with a focus on behavioural change by other researchers in the field. I was particularly interested in using a New Zealand model of action competence in my classroom and examining the role that the culture of the student played in that model. The United Nations literature includes culture as part of Education for Sustainability but international educational research has not to date. In designing the intervention, examined a range of learning theories and matched them with the needs of students in a city in New Zealand with a very multicultural population. Links were also made between The New Zealand Curriculum and Best Evidence Synthesis from the Ministry of Education here in New Zealand. The resulting intervention had a student centered approach and an emphasis on recognising the culture of students that was based around an action competence model developed for New Zealand. The aim was to see if this combination would enable the students in the intervention to make progress towards being action competent during an EfS unit on action –taking. The intervention was carried out with a class of seventeen students who were undertaking an Education for Sustainability Achievement Standard involving taking an action towards becoming more sustainable. I used an action research approach whereby I taught and supported students through the process. I used their log books, reports, journals and informal conversations to provide my research data. This data was analysed using a continuum I developed that was based on the work of a New Zealand team that adapted the concept of action competence for the New Zealand situation. The research findings indicate that the framework developed by the New Zealand team with the addition of starting from the culture of the students can lead to development of student action competence in EfS.
Type of thesis
Arthur, M. (2011). Development of action competence using Education for Sustainability in a New Zealand school (Thesis, Master of Science (MSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5376
University of Waikato
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