Whole Systems Thinking and Context of the University Teacher on Curricular Sustainability in Primary Education Teaching Degrees at the University of Zaragoza
1.1. Sustainability Awareness of University Teachers
1.2. Does Teacher Training Create Awareness or Knowledge?
1.3. The University as a Setting for System-Wide Change
2. Materials and Methods
- The pre-analysis phase involved a superficial reading of the transcripts. A pilot test was applied using the system of categories obtained from the expert consultation, which allowed greater specificity of some indicators around the object of study. The material obtained was divided into paragraphs, and 30% of these were randomly selected for the subsequent concordance test. The Fleiss Kappa test was then applied to the 3 main researchers, obtaining an agreement of k = 0.85.
- During the exploitation phase, all the fragments referring to the three focus groups were analysed by consensus among the three researchers. The procedure to be followed had to do with a first identification of the fragment in relation to the main dimension. Once this had been agreed, the category describing the content of the fragment was identified. The last level of specificity was given by the indicator that the argument resembled, the second category had only one indicator, so this step was omitted. In the event that an argument contained more than one idea corresponding to several indicators, the argument was broken down into the respective paragraphs.
- Finally, the results were interpreted using the content analysis program QRS NVIVO 12. The software allows for downloading a report for each of the indicators, in which each fragment is compiled by indicator, indicating its origin, i.e., one of the three focus groups we had carried out. In this way, the interpretation of the results was based on this compilation, identifying content units that organised the ideas of the informants.
3.1. Belief in the Possibility of Developing ESD: Training Students Based on Real Learning and Action—Category 1.1. Whole Systems Thinking
“Well, I think I have very little knowledge, skills or abilities. At a general level or at a formative level, beyond your way of seeing life (...) I think that many things are inherent to the person, and that no matter how much we set ourselves objectives, there are objectives that are so well-embedded in the person as to be able to transmit them afterwards (…).”(Alexa)
“(…) I think it is very important, on a personal level, for us all to believe in the SDGs (...) I really do believe in many of them. So, if I believe in them, I think it is much easier for me to pass them on to my students than if I don’t believe them.”(Thomas)
“With the global vision that the SDGs pursue, it is impossible to limit it to an area like ours; we need to have alliances with other areas to develop common projects (...). So, I think it is an essential condition for collaboration with other people to develop more global projects, the more of us who think about the issue of sustainability and have a similar idea of the world, the easier it will be to transfer it to the students and this can take hold.”(Sam)
“(…) a first step from the university is to locate those subjects that have the same SDGs, see if some of them have already incorporated them in other years and generate some kind of group or groups where they can share experiences and gradually grow.”(Charlie)
“I think that one of the best training forums could be the innovation conferences that the Institute of Education Sciences always organises (...). But I certainly agree that a traditional course would not have much effect.”(William)
“I think that nowadays it is more important to do and share, and work together with colleagues on small projects... in fact, it is how you learn and how you end up training, and how you learn to participate in this type of project (...). That is why it is better to work on small projects that help you to learn by doing.”(James)
“(…) I think that all this more transversal or more social, more environmental issue is very inherent to your way of living or your way of seeing life. So, no matter how much training they give you on something that you don’t experience or don’t live with, I think it’s complicated (…).”(Alexa)
3.2. Educational Insecurity to Implement ESD due to the Lack of a Joint University-Wide Institutional Strategy—Category 1.2. Sustainable University
“The education system is currently in the process of revising the curriculum at national level, a process that is well advanced and which has deadlines for implementation depending on the LOMCE (Organic Law for the improvement of the quality of education, Spanish Law)—the current education law in Spain—and we are now subject to the fact that we do not know what the curriculum scenario is going to be and how these issues are going to be dealt with in the education system, as I have said (…).”(Oliver)
“(…) The environment week and there they do a series of workshops, talks, they deal with all the SDGs related to aspects of the environment. They also talk about the aspect of guaranteeing responsible and sustainable consumption, the issue of renewables, the truth is that it’s good. This year, for example, they brought in the people from Ecoembes (environmental non-profit organisation) and they talked about the use of recycled material, where this material goes, etc. In fact, we did give that talk as part of a Natural Environment class.”(David)
“As for the legal framework, well, this year the actual university is going to include the SDGs in the teaching guides, so I understand that it is beginning to be facilitated and the teaching staff is beginning to be asked to do so explicitly. So, I think that it will help to develop these actions.”(David)
“In terms of facilitators, I see that there is a greater awareness in society of the need to work on these issues, and I would dare to use a word that is in vogue, it is a trend that is currently in vogue. So that obviously makes it easier for people to get on the bandwagon. So, I think that this can be a facilitator because it encourages people, it is starting to be heard, it is already being heard in schools.”(Harry)
“For me, one of the difficulties or barriers that might exist in implementing these issues is that surely many of the objectives to be addressed will require transversality, they will require projects to be established, from different subjects, which can have an impact on these issues. But, on the other hand, the barrier is that we continue to have an excessive atomisation of training. Each subject acts independently, so it seems to me that these issues of sustainability, the SDGs, etc., in addition to the fact that things should be done in each subject, should demand greater transversality, greater coordination (…).”(Mike)
“One of the main difficulties would be the absence of a clear guide and guidelines set by the University of Zaragoza on how these issues should hypothetically be addressed within the different subjects, which would be a difficulty when it comes to proposing any type of initiative with respect to this subject.”(Harry)
“So not only should we be in contact so that they can tell us what they are doing, but we should also work together and collaboratively, university teachers with teachers from the education system, because I believe that this is a way in which we have to be expectant. We should be able to make proposals that are put into practice because we are working or should be working with practical projects, with real things. And in which we work with teaching staff from the education system.”(Charlotte)
“We also have to change the concept of subjects (...) But we cannot transmit an ever-increasing package of knowledge to the student (...) And I believe that we have to turn around the subjects, and really work on competencies and not on content. We also need to work on competencies at university for our students. And not to worry about arriving at what we currently understand as a subject syllabus. And that is a whole systems problem, a problem of all of us, of the approach to the curriculum.”(Oliver)
“So, I think that in order to make a good start and not put the cart before the horse, at university level, we would need our leaders, our university, to clearly define where it wants to go, what it wants to achieve (...). That is to say, a roadmap, but that roadmap should be based on the roadmap established by our own university. So, I insist that we want to get down to basics, and I believe that the foundations are lacking.”(Mike)
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|1. Education in sustainability||1.1. Whole-systems-thinking of the subject||1.1.1. Knowledge, skills and abilities|
|1.1.2. Teacher training|
|1.2. Sustainable university||1.2.1. Context|
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Lorente-Echeverría, S.; Canales-Lacruz, I.; Murillo-Pardo, B. Whole Systems Thinking and Context of the University Teacher on Curricular Sustainability in Primary Education Teaching Degrees at the University of Zaragoza. Educ. Sci. 2023, 13, 341. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040341
Lorente-Echeverría S, Canales-Lacruz I, Murillo-Pardo B. Whole Systems Thinking and Context of the University Teacher on Curricular Sustainability in Primary Education Teaching Degrees at the University of Zaragoza. Education Sciences. 2023; 13(4):341. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040341Chicago/Turabian Style
Lorente-Echeverría, Silvia, Inma Canales-Lacruz, and Berta Murillo-Pardo. 2023. "Whole Systems Thinking and Context of the University Teacher on Curricular Sustainability in Primary Education Teaching Degrees at the University of Zaragoza" Education Sciences 13, no. 4: 341. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040341