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Understanding Student Conceptions of Sustainability Nicola Walshe Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding Student Conceptions of Sustainability Nicola Walshe Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding Student Conceptions of Sustainability Nicola Walshe Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

2 geography is a focus within the curriculum for understanding and resolving issues about the environment and sustainable development (DfEE/QCA, 1999) The goal of sustainable development is to enable all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life, without compromising the quality of life of future generations (DfES, 2006)

3 Research Design One class of 27 Year 8 students (case study) Methods: –Concept mapping (context: sustainable tourism) –Interviews (semi-structured interviews with four pupils: Edward, Catherine, James and Lizzi) –Written definitions –Further interviews Data Analysis - open and a priori coding of content of concept maps and interviews - analysis of pattern of conceptual development of concept maps (after Kinchin et al., 2000)

4 James Concept Maps: Example 1

5 Daniel Concept Maps: Example 2

6 Donna Concept Maps: Example 3

7 Economic = 77 Environmental = 113 Social = 54 Categories capturing features of sustainable tourism: Environmental Social Economic

8 Categories capturing features of sustainable tourism

9 Patterns of Content in Concept Maps Socially-focused sustainability (Kerry) 4 1 1 2 4 Economically-focused sustainability (Cheyenne) 5 1 1 2 Environmentally-focused sustainability (George) 1 5 Complex sustainability (Lizzi) 1 2 2 4 2 1 1 6 1

10 George (environmentally-focused) Environmentally-focused sustainability (George)

11 Kerry (socially-focused) Socially-focused sustainability (Kerry)

12 Lizzi (complex) Complex sustainability (Lizzi)

13 Interview Analysis (1) Defining Sustainable Development I think that it means that something can last (Catherine) where something that can stay the same for a long time and never, like, deteriorate (James) I think it means something that can last quite a long time without damaging peoples lifestyle, culture, or the environment around them (Lizzi) you teach someone something, and then, what happens to the reason why you taught them, it happens again, then they can build a house again, because you taught them already (Edward).

14 Interview Analysis (2) Students elaborate significantly on concepts they are describing when in an interview situation, whereas their ideas are often poorly expressed and lacking detail when included in a concept map. For example: Edward more cars more light so people cant sleep it would be very crowded, and it would have a.... it would have an exceeded carrying capacity. So the people would be everywhere, thered be no space anywhere. The cars and the local amenities would be just so packed in and overdone and over rushed and things. CONCEPT MAPINTERVIEW

15 Interview Analysis (3) In the interviews, all four students discussed the future (timescale); this is despite the fact that this concept was rarely mentioned in concept diagrams. For example: Lizzi Why? Sustainable tourism is something that, well, that can last for a long time... youd also have maybe a small town that starts off thinking its going to start sustainable, then after a couple of years they realise that they can make more money, so they build higher skyscrapers, more hotels, and they just ruin the countryside around it, and take away all the culture.

16 Where is TIME? I think [lasting a long time] would maybe fit under mostly all of [the other categories] because theyre all about everything lasting longer in each category (Catherine) [I would] most probably put it in economics in the way that Id say that the money is spent on things that will last for a long time. And pollution Id put about the rubbish and then social Id put in about the carrying capacity of a place (Edward)

17 Implications for Practice Content: The three concepts of environmental, social and economic sustainability Purpose: What is the relevance of sustainability? I think its good to be taught in the way that it will help you understand from situations, but maybe it needs to be taught in a kind of a different way, if its more to teach you about how to use it like later on in life, and stuff …… [We need] like steps [we] could try and use. James Methodological implications: Researching childrens understandings

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