Assessing international teacher students´ knowledge on environmental and sustainability challenges through a literature seminar

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Assessing international teacher students´ knowledge on environmental and sustainability challenges through a literature seminar

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Publication Other
Title Assessing international teacher students´ knowledge on environmental and sustainability challenges through a literature seminar
Author(s) Sonesson, Kerstin ; Nordén, Birgitta
Date 2015
English abstract
This presentation is based on international teacher students` experiences of a learning assessment on environmental and sustainability challenges. In Teaching for sustainability (15 credits, ), a course offered once a year by Malmö University, the perspective is learner oriented with a holistic approach on education and sustainability. The heterogeneous group of students has a variety of knowledge on sustainability issues, different experiences of learning activities and examination forms. Consequently, a common platform for progression of knowledge formation among the students is needed. One of the first learning activities is to read World on the Edge (Brown, 2011) and to formulate three questions on environmental and sustainability challenges that the student considers important. Prior to the first out of three assessments in the course, the lecturer selects one question per student and during the assessment seminar the student directs the discussion of the selected question among a group of 5-7 students. During the seminar, the students share their thoughts, experiences and knowledge for meaning-making through discussions. The learning outcome is to be able to describe what effect humans have upon their environment. Students are graded “Passed with distinction”, “Passed” or “Fail”, whereas the full course has a six-pointed grading system (Passed with distinction; A-B, Passed; C-E, Failed; F). Our aim of the research study is to investigate how heterogeneous groups of teacher students experiences a student-driven, non-traditional learning assessment, their learning process and meaning-making within environmental and sustainability education. Qualitative group interviews, semi-structural questions, and analysis were carried out through a phenomenographic approach. Focus was on previous experiences of assessments, ways of reading the book and formulating questions, expectations and reflections, and learning processes for meaning-making. The interviews with the international teacher students (n=41) in 2012 and 2014 were recorded, transcribed and thematically categorised. To many students the assessment was a new learning experience. While reading the book students were mainly concentrating on bigger concepts. A few students were afraid and nervous as they were unfamiliar with planning and taking responsibility for a discussion. However, the participatory and collaborative learning assessment with sharing of experiences among the students resulted in a rewarding meaning-making process. After the assessment students continued to reflect and talk about the questions raised. According to them, it generated a deep learning opportunity compared to written examination. A tentative result shows some categories of the students’ experiences of meaning-making: developing critical thinking, focusing on learning and understanding, learning by collaboration, seeing a bigger picture, and taking responsibility in learning for understanding. When students share their knowledge and experiences of global environmental and sustainability challenges, sustainability literacy for understanding seems to develop. The students describe their learning processes as on-going after closing the seminar.
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) assessment
deep learning approach
global challenges
higher education for sustainable development (HESD),
international teacher education
sustainability literacy for understanding
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
Note COPERNICUS Alliance Conference Caxia Forum, Madrid, Spain, 2015 November 24, 2015
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