Book cover: Transitioning to Quality Education
Open Access Edited Book

Transitioning to Quality Education

Published: August 2021
Pages: 249
ISBN 978-3-03897-892-3 (hardback); ISBN 978-3-03897-893-0 (PDF)
This book is part of the book series: Transitioning to Sustainability
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Transitioning to Quality Education focuses on the fourth UN Sustainable Development Goal. According to SDG 4, every learner should acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development (UN 2015, 17). Thus, the aim of sustainability education is to foster learners to be creative and responsible global citizens, who critically reflect on the ideas of sustainable development and the values that underlie them, and take responsible actions for sustainable development (UNESCO 2017). Sustainability is strongly connected to attitudes and values, therefore, applications of sustainability are complicated. Quality education requires teachers to have competences, knowledge, and skills to be able to plan and carry out meaningful education and teaching in sustainability. The aim of Transitioning to Quality Education is to provide versatile experiences and new knowledge on the cognitive, affective, and social issues that are important for promoting sustainable development in formal and non-formal education.


Transitioning to Quality Education is part of MDPI's new Open Access book series Transitioning to Sustainability. With this series, MDPI pursues environmentally and socially relevant research which contributes to efforts toward a sustainable world. Transitioning to Sustainability aims to add to the conversation about regional and global sustainable development according to the 17 SDGs. The book series is intended to reach beyond disciplinary, even academic boundaries. 


  • Transitioning to Quality Education: Examining Education for Sustainable Development Goals, Its Limitations, and Alternatives
    Despite the willingness of many educational institutions worldwide to embrace Education for Sustainable Development and Education for Sustainable Development Goals, critical scholars have pointed out that the very enterprise of sustainable development is not without its contradictions. Therefore, any education that engages with sustainable development needs to be carefully reviewed, rather than supported, in its ambition to promote the supposedly universally desirable aims. The rhetoric of sustainable development as meeting the needs of present and future generations is largely anthropocentric in failing to take nonhuman species into account when setting up pragmatic and ethical objectives. Similarly to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that have helped to raise living standards across the world, but have largely failed to address environmental sustainability challenges, the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) tend to prioritize “inclusive economic growth” at the expense of ecological integrity, which is very likely to negatively affect not only nonhuman species but also future generations and their quality of life. Thus, as this chapter will argue, universally applicable Education for Sustainable Development Goals (ESDGs) is problematic in the context of addressing the long-term sustainability for both human and nonhuman inhabitants of the planet. Given escalating climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and depletion of natural resources, this chapter questions whether ESDGs can qualify as a desirable “quality education”. The paradoxes of sustainable development and ways forward that seem a better alternative for ESDG include indigenous/traditional learning, ecopedagogy, ecocentric education, and education for degrowth, steady-state, and Cradle-to-Cradle and circular economy. Advantages of universal education are also highlighted, as any education that supports basic literacy, numeracy, and values attributed to the intrinsic rights of humans and nonhumans can help students to be equipped to deal with social and environmental challenges.
  • High Quality Educated Teachers and High-Quality Textbooks—The Two Pillars of Quality Education
    This book chapter is a theoretical discussion highlighting two important pillars of quality education. The importance of teaching material and textbooks is discussed and issues around implementation of sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals in education. It contains research results from the Nordic countries around teacher education and early childhood education teachers, discussions on issues and obstacles and some possible solutions for a way forward.
  • Systems Thinking Research in Science and Sustainability Education: A Theoretical Note
    Systems thinking is a very important skill in both science education and sustainability education. In order to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs), the quality of education should be increased to be able to deal with the complex problems of today, and the systems thinking skills of students and teachers should be developed. Many studies have so far investigated systems thinking skills within the science education and sustainability education context, and they have shown that systems thinking skills can be developed at different grade levels using various teaching strategies. The aim of this literature review is to examine these studies in terms of topic, research methodologies and systems thinking models. Moreover, 32 articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals from 2009 to 2019 were selected and examined. The data were analyzed through qualitative content analysis. The results revealed that the topics that the majority of researchers focused on included sustainability problems, complex systems and earth system (especially water cycle). In the 13 articles, researchers studied systems thinking skills with lower secondary school students. Fewer studies were conducted with primary school, upper secondary school and undergraduate students. Furthermore, 17 articles included intervention studies and the most frequently used teaching strategies were inquiry-based teaching and computer simulation programs. Systems thinking models used in the selected articles were also examined and discussed. This literature review provides several directions for future studies.
  • Finnish Subject Student Teachers’ Views on Their Social Competencies at the End of Their Educational Studies
    In subject teacher education, the main issues in sustainable development education (SDE) lie in questions as to what the educators are supposed to teach, what the status of subject teacher education is today in embedding SDE, and how SDE relates to the focus on professional competencies in teacher education. The aim of this study is to investigate the subject student teachers’ views on their social competencies in teaching students about sustainable development (SD) with respect to local, regional, and global environmental issues. The study questions were: (1) What kind of environmental problems do the students regard as core environmental problems—locally, regionally, and globally? (2) What kind of opportunities do the students feel they have to socially influence local, regional and global environmental issues? (3) How do the students identify and understand the social relationships in the classroom? and (4) How do the students see their likelihood of influencing the school culture they are working in with respect to sustainable development? A total of 142 subject student teachers at six Finnish universities were surveyed. The material was collected using a web-based questionnaire and analyzed by inductive content analyses based on two factors: (1) the multidimensional adapted process model of teaching, especially regarding teachers’ social competences and (2) the competences in SDE. The results showed the students are concerned about issues such as climate change and littering, and would address these by reasonable knowledge construction and social means. In the school environment, the students are interested in SD decision-making, and they value equality and the mental wellbeing of students, which are supported by the quality of education goals, especially Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4). The findings are discussed with respect to the social skills introduced in the multidimensional adapted process model of teaching, in particular with respect to the UNESCO’s listed competencies in teaching and learning about SD.
  • Start for Sustainable Development: Ecological Footprint
    The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between elementary school students’ ecological footprint mean scores and their attitudes towards sustainable development. Two hundred and ten elementary school students from three different regions of Turkey (east, middle and west) were included in the study group. As a result of the research, the mean ecological footprint scores of elementary school students were calculated as 2.11 global hectare (gha) and their ecological footprint has been determined to be lower than Turkey’s mean (2.7 gha), but higher than the world mean (1.8 gha). The mean score of attitude towards sustainable development of elementary school students was calculated (X = 3.62), and the low mean score showed that elementary school students did not exhibit the expected sustainable development attitude. A negative correlation was determined between the mean scores of ecological footprints of elementary school students and the mean scores of sustainable development attitude and it was concluded that this relationship was significant. This result shows an inverse relationship between ecological footprint and sustainable development for elementary school students. Achieving sustainable development is primarily possible by changing the consumption habits of individuals. This can be achieved with SDG goal 4 “Quality Education”. Ecological footprint awareness can be used as a tool for the students to become aware of their own consumption habits, to develop the characteristics expected from it and thus to create sustainable development by using natural resources more effectively.
  • Possibilities of Popularizing a Philosophy Course in High Schools: The Case of Croatia
    In the text, the authors provide a research plan related to changes in a high school philosophy course. The mentioned description, analysis, review and suggestions are put together in the following way. 1st Part: we supply a theoretical context for a different understanding of the high-school philosophy course in gymnasiumbased educational systems. This understanding is based on the inclusion of a series of topics in popular philosophy as a philosophy of popular phenomena and the inclusion of modern teaching methods and tools, such as philosophy in comic book format or philosophy by the film. 2nd Part: we suggest some principles of remodeling for the high school philosophy course, based on previous descriptions of different understandings of philosophy as popular, but also with the inclusion of inter-course topics that overlap with 2 or more courses that are different to philosophy. 3rd Part: we present the results of the primary research related to high school philosophy course textbooks in Croatia in the period 1965–2019.
  • An Argumentation Practice Based on STEAM for the Chemistry Education of Gifted
    In this study, it was aimed to enhance gifted students’ argumentation skills by making them complete the missing parts of chemistry animation scenarios based on STEAM and then reconstruct them as an argument as an enrichment. The study was conducted with 12 gifted students at a school for the gifted in Ankara province in Turkey. A case study was used as one of the qualitative designs during the study. Seven different worksheets requiring the students to draw the missing part of each chemistry animation scenario and then criticize them as arguments were used as data collection tools. Content analysis was utilized for the gathered data. At the end of the study, it was found that the gifted students were able to complete the missing parts of the chemistry animation scenarios in order to construct proper concept images and then reconstruct them as arguments. It could be said that the gifted students’ argumentation skills were enhanced based on their increasing success of arguing the missing parts of the chemistry animation scenarios with the help of justifying their conclusions with premises.
  • Academic Literacy Supporting Sustainability for Mathematics Education—A Case: Collaborative Working as a Meaning Making for “2/3”?
    In this article, we focused on sustainable development in mathematics education from the point of view of academic literacy in mathematics (ALM). ALM was understood here through three integrated components: mathematical proficien-cy, mathematical practices, and mathematical discourse (languaging). ALM skills support 21st Century competences which are important for citizen skills. Both ALM skills and 21st Century competences support lifelong learning and sustainable education. Citizens of future society need both ALM and 21st Century competences to model and solve the issues of sustainable development. We want to develop prospective teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical con-tent knowledge of school mathematics in the spirit of sustainable education. As the case, we chose the mathematical symbol “2/3” and how collaborative mean-ing making for “2/3” influences prospective class teachers’ interpretations. Col-laborative meaning making is part of ALM. Collaborative working as a tool for meaning making supports the other parts of ALM. By languaging different meanings for “2/3” in pairs, prospective class teachers deepened their under-standing about fractions. By supporting ALM skills in teacher education, future class teachers can have a more sustainable basis to teach mathematics for chil-dren. As a conclusion, based on the results of our case study, we summarized objectives for sustainable development for teacher education, teachers, and stu-dents in mathematics education.
  • Outstanding Performance or Reversal of Fortune in Burundi’s Education System?
    From the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals, the focus of educational policies recommendations for the Global South has shifted from the quantity to the quality of education. The learning crisis many developing countries face is even more severe in sub-Saharan Africa and exhibits the difficulty of reforming education systems. The political economy of education seems to be a key factor in study education quality. In that regard, Burundi provides an insightful case study: its education system stands as an outlier when it comes to primary school quality and presents a strong geographical heterogeneity. We find that Burundi has experienced a sharp increase in test scores from 2009 to 2014, both in an absolute sense and relative to similar sub-Saharan African countries. We find this increase is mainly due to the performance of the Northern provinces, the region of birth of late President Nkurunziza. Turning to the mechanisms, no other hypothesis has been tested, but our difference in difference analysis reveals that the improved performance of this region cannot be explained by better infrastructure.
  • Integrating Sustainability Issues into Science Education through Career-Based Scenarios in the MultiCO Project
    The MultiCO project focused on creating career-based scenarios with the intent to make science education more relevant to students and to enhance students’ interest towards science studies and their awareness of scientific careers. This was undertaken through longitudinal studies involving interventions that used motivational scenarios, which were created with multi-stakeholder co-operation between scientists in education and natural sciences, experts from industry and civil society organisations, and formal, as well as non-formal science educators and students. Scenarios were defined as motivational student-relevant constructs related to an attractive issue with the possibility to involve students in an unusual scientific, hands-on activity appreciated as relevant by students, and included career-related aspects. The scenario problem, issue or situation was linked to EU challenges related to energy, water, waste, climate change, food, health, and transport issues. In this book chapter we introduce these scenarios in the light of sustainability focusing on content, context, pedagogy, and skills considered in the scenarios. In relation to Education for Sustainable Development, MultiCO scenarios incorporate both affective and cognitive aspects of learning using contexts relevant to students. The scenarios include decision-making through social learning, local or global perspectives, critical thinking and analysis, and empower students to take action on issues related to sustainability.

Review Mode

Each chapter in this edited book has been reviewed by the editor/s, and a minimum of one single-blind reviewer. The opinions expressed in the chapters do not reflect the view of the publisher.





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