What Does The Research Say About Education for Sustainability
Education for Sustainability has multiple, positive effects on student achievement, school culture, community vitality, and ecological integrity.
“When a school has employed this approach for several years, implemented in day-to-day actions of school community members, a well-planned curriculum and explicit instruction, Education for Sustainability not only improves learning outcomes but also, students’ sense of place within their community is an indispensible foundation for other learning…as is their understanding that their relationship with their community is both reciprocal and valuable….”
(Becker-Klein et al, 2008; Duffin, 2006; AED, 2007; Sobel, 2008; Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2010; Ofsted, 2009; Gayford, 2009; Barrat-Hacking et al, 2010; PEER Associates, 2010).
Impact on Students
improves student learning and standards achievement
enhances attitudes toward learning
significantly decreases students’ feeling that they cannot succeed
produces better behavior and attendance
is consistent with human’s natural style to learn holistically
attends to the needs of the whole child
provides a safe and secure space in which children can take risks and develop skills of active participation
encourages students to make connections between themselves and the systems of which they are a part
produces statistically significant increases in the strength of students’ attitudes about civic engagement
develops in students a greater awareness of community, and a greater appreciation of the democratic process
Impact on Teachers
meaningful effects on teacher attitudes
both new and veteran teachers are able to achieve strong academic outcomes from their students
Impact on School & Community
whole school cultures and improved relationships between the school, parents and the community
models actions and attitudes that promote sustainable living
improves air quality, reduced waste, decreased energy use
contributes to children’s health by improving children’s food eating choices
Academy for Educational Development (2007). An evaluation of the Cloud Institute’s “Business and Entrepreneurship Education for the 21st Century” and Inventing the Future curricula. Washington: AED.
Barrat Hacking, E., Scott, B., and Lee, E. (2010). Evidence of impact of sustainable schools. Bath, U.K.: University of Bath, Center for Research in Education and the Environment. Downloaded April 16, 2010 from http://publications.teachernet.gov.uk
Duffin, M., Murphy, M., & Johnson, B. (2008). Quantifying a relationship between place-based learning and environmental quality: Final report. Woodstock, VT: NPS Conservation Study Institute in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency and Shelburne Farms.
Duffin, M., & PEER Associates (2007). Why use place-based education? Four answers that emerge from the findings of PEEC, the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative, (Presentation version). Retrieved on May 10, 2011 from http://www.peecworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports/S01248363-0124838.
Sobel, D. (2008). Nature and children: design principles for educators. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers
Ofsted, The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (2009) Education for Sustainable Development: Improving Schools - Improving Lives. Manchester, UK. Crown http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/education-for-sustainable-development-improving-schools-improving-lives
Gayford Christopher (2009) Learning for Sustainability: from the pupils’ perspective. Godalming, Surrey: World Wide Fund for Nature http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/wwf_report_final_web.pdf