Fostering participation, collaboration and problem solving in the classroom – developing discussion and actions for sustainability

Glover, Alison (2022). Fostering participation, collaboration and problem solving in the classroom – developing discussion and actions for sustainability. In: Teacher Education for Equity and Sustainability Network (TEESNet) 13th Annual Conference, 28 Sep 2022, Liverpool Hope University.



Young people are key actors in addressing the world’s sustainability challenges and consequently contributing to the decision making required. This presentation explores a participatory approach to support the acquisition of knowledge, skills and attributes that contribute to the transformation needed (Sterling, 2011). By encouraging communication and collaboration, improvements in attitude and self-confidence are supported (Du Plessis, 2020). Moving from individual perception to an agreed group idea moves people from theory to action. Such active involvement is important, yet it is frequently reported to be missing in classroom activities (Mogran and Gericke, 2017).

An activity that used images as a stimulus for discussion on the concept of sustainability and its boundaries is explored. Examples of sustainability practices in higher education illustrate how universities have approached this in different contexts. All of which demonstrate that sustainability can mean different things, depending on the cultural, social and contextual perspective. Finally, the findings of a research project that investigated the delivery of the activity across different settings will be presented; this reported on individual and group perceptions of sustainability and the importance of particular actions for sustainability. The adaptations made to the activity and resources for younger learners will also be discussed. By considering sustainability as something less abstract it becomes more accessible by proposing real actions.

Du Plessis, E. (2020) Student teachers’ perceptions, experiences, and challenges regarding learner-centred teaching. South African Journal of Education, 40(1), pp. 1-10.
Mogren, A. and Gericke, N. (2017) ESD Implementation at the School Organisation Level, Part 1: Investigating the quality criteria guiding school leaders’ work at recognized ESD schools. Environmental Education Research, 23(7), pp. 972-992.
Sterling, S. (2011) Transformative Learning and Sustainability: Sketching the conceptual ground. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 5, pp. 17-33.

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