Education for sustainability: An ethnographic study of 15 year-2/3 rural Western Australian children’s attitudes on sustainability
Learning for sustainability
Science and Mathematics Education
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AbstractThe study occurred in rural Western Australia in 2011, during UNESCO‟s Decade of Education for Sustainability Development, when sustainability became one of three cross-curriculum priorities of the Australian Curriculum. The study involved the development and implementation of a sustainability focused science program embedded in a class of 15 Year-2/3primary participants. The study emphasised a qualitative approach, but also included embedded quantitative data analysis. The aim of the science program focussed on the enhancement of the children‟s attitudes towards sustainability, to equip them with the skills needed to change their behaviours in relation to practicing the principles of sustainability. The children‟s attitudes towards sustainability were assessed before and after engaging in the program. A range of observation techniques identified changes in attitudes and behaviours, including children‟s work samples, teacher reflections, interviews and vignettes constructed from the synthesis of this data. In addition, both pre and post program questionnaires were administered to further assess attitudinal changes. The research offers an insight into children‟s attitudes to sustainability, as well as junior primary science learning and teaching practices that encourage decision making for sustainable development.