Ludwig-Maximilian-University (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 150-155
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
A recent debate on environmental problems draws public’s attraction to sustainability, resulting in the UN declaring “Education for Sustainable Development” (ESD) as essential paradigm for the years 2005-2014. According to the Brundtland Report (WCED, 1987) Sustainable Development “is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

One important goal is fostering responsible actions against nature.

Referring to theories of actions three stages can be identified:
(1) Motivation: Being aware of problems leads to occurring motives.
(2) Action Selection: taking different actions into account, comparing and assessing those, results in developing intentions.
(3) Volition: deciding for one action, leads to realizing a specific action.

According to theories like Heckhausen and Ajzen, two necessary requirements are knowledge about actions and attitudes influencing motives and intentions.
• Regarding knowledge, consequences of actions should be considered.
• Mayer and Frantz (2004) assume, that appreciating nature leads to harming nature fewer, suggesting, that attitude towards nature arises through positive experiences within nature.

But there are only few studies analysing fostering those components in primary schools. Therefore this study aims at fostering those components in primary schools.

Research questions:
• R1: To what extent was students’ understanding of consequences of actions fostered?
• R2: To what extent was students’ attitude towards nature fostered?

A 3-day learning environment was developed, aiming on fostering those two requirements. 92 third graders from four primary schools participated. Data were collected before, directly after and three month later.

- Knowledge related to consequences of actions, was measured with a play-based oral knowledge-test, reading a short case to students. Afterwards, they should name consequences of actions and state reasons.
- Attitude towards nature was measured with a students’ questionnaire based on Mayer and Frantz (2004) using a 3-point scale, because a pre-test showed students having problems with 4-point scales. An exemplary item was “I feel ease with the nature”.

R1: Students’ knowledge tests showed an increase in understanding consequences of actions comparing pre- and posttests. According to additionally teachers’ interviews, students understood sustainable use of nature in a more differentiated way.

R2: Analysing students’ questionnaires, attitude towards nature was not rated higher directly after, but was rated substantially higher three months later, assuming, that developing attitudes requires more time.

Conclusion and educational significance of the study:
This study makes a theoretical contribution in conceptualizing essential learning goals for ESD and an empirical contribution in measuring them. Furthermore it contributes practically in developing a feasible ESD learning unit for primary schools. The study can serve as basis for discussing further research focussing on ESD at primary level.

(1) Brundtland, G. (1987). UN Brundtland Comission Report. Our common future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
(2)Mayer, F. & Frantz, C. (2004). The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals' feeling in community. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24, 503–515.
Environment, Sustainability, Primary Students, Attitute, Nature.