sustainability-logo

Journal Browser

Journal Browser

Teaching and Learning for Embedding Sustainability in Higher Education

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Education and Approaches".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2024) | Viewed by 11727

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. School of Education and Social Sciences, Frederick University, 7, Y. Frederickou Str. Pallouriotisa, Nicosia 1036, Cyprus
2. UNESCO Chairholder, ICT in Education for Sustainable Development, University of Crete, 74100 Rethymnon, Crete, Greece
Interests: ICT in Education for Sustainable Development; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); sustainability; climate change education and global citizenship; critical pedagogy; 21st century skills; curriculum reconstruction

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology (FISPPA), University of Padova, Via Beato Pellegrino, 28, 35137 Padova, Italy
Interests: project evaluation; research in education; ICT; e-learning; education for sustainable development; entrepreneurship in education, psychology, and music education
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Pedagogy, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Campus Sescelades, 43007 Tarragona, Spain
Interests: education for sustainable development (ESD); sustainability; innovative teaching and learning methods; organisational change; sustainable development goals (SDGs)
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the rapidly changing world, with increasing environmental, social, economic and cultural pressures and challenges, embedding sustainability in Higher Education (HE) is of critical importance. Transforming HE curricula and practices is a great challenge, and real outcomes are still lagging behind. Embedding sustainability in HE requires approaches to teaching and learning that enhance critical consciousness, knowledge and understanding, promote ethical and critical reflection, and motivate action (Makrakis, 2014). Most of the teaching methodology applied focuses on lecturing the and limited use of: (i) problem-based learning strategies; (ii) placed-based pedagogy; (iii) utilization of ICTs as enabling pedagogical tools, and other innovative teaching/learning tools suitable to address sustainability and SDGs challenges (Makrakis and Kostoulas-Makrakis, 2017). Unlocking the potentiality and actuality of ICTs for sustainability is not a matter of technology itself, but rather the way we perceive technology, teaching, learning and curriculum (Makrakis, 2017). There is a growing interest in the international literature concerning the exploration, implementation and evaluation of innovative teaching and learning approaches and curriculum developments to foster the embedding of sustainability competencies, including in HE (Cebrián, Junyent and Mulà, 2021). Educating educators and, by extension, professionalizing academic teaching is a fundamental element for embedding sustainability in HE (Biasutti, Makrakis, Concina, Frate, 2018).

The aim of this Special Issue is to share the experiences from efforts to integrate or embed sustainability through the teaching and learning lens. Does teaching about sustainability lead to action and not merely a change in student attitudes? What teaching and learning methods seem to have a more significant effect on action competencies and what are the challenges for instructors? How can the barriers to embedding sustainability through innovative teaching and learning be overcome? How do we address the skills and knowledge of academic staff with regard to sustainability literacy and curriculum reconstruction to embed sustainability? How do we address the issue of “knowledge-attitude-values-action” gap towards sustainable development and climate change? How do we map academic teaching expertise in the field of HE to address sustainability and SDGs? These are some of the critical questions that this Special Issue aspires to give evidence-based answers.

Prof. Dr. Vassilios Makrakis
Prof. Dr. Michele Biasutti
Dr. Gisela Cebrián
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainability
  • education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
  • Higher Education
  • teaching methods
  • learning
  • curricula
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • ICTs
  • competencies
  • professional development

Published Papers (8 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

21 pages, 946 KiB  
Article
Experiential Learning for Circular Operations Management in Higher Education
by David Ernesto Salinas-Navarro, Claudia Yohana Arias-Portela, José Rubén González de la Cruz and Eliseo Vilalta-Perdomo
Sustainability 2024, 16(2), 798; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16020798 - 17 Jan 2024
Viewed by 764
Abstract
This research-to-practice article delves into novel learning experiences for operations management education, involving the circular economy and experiential learning. Higher Education academics are required to develop effective learning that actively and impactfully helps nurture in students the essential competency to face sustainable development [...] Read more.
This research-to-practice article delves into novel learning experiences for operations management education, involving the circular economy and experiential learning. Higher Education academics are required to develop effective learning that actively and impactfully helps nurture in students the essential competency to face sustainable development demands. In operations management education, one possibility is to integrate real-world circular economy challenges into learning activities that address issues concerning solid waste generation in business processes and operations. This type of innovative learning experience involves both conceptual understanding and practical implementation. Accordingly, experiential learning is considered a suitable pedagogy for this purpose in this work because of its hands-on applications, critical thinking, and active engagement. To illustrate this proposition, this paper presents a case study concerning an operations management undergraduate course at a Mexican university. The case study indicates how to translate a situation of solid waste generation in a business into relevant disciplinary experiential learning. The results show that students regarded the learning experience as motivating, interesting, and relevant while widely accomplishing their learning objectives. However, limitations did exist regarding experiential learning, the methodological approach, data collection, and implementation challenges. Future work points to the need for further learning experiences and to improve research reliability, transferability, and validity. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

14 pages, 255 KiB  
Article
Predictors of Motivation and Barriers to ICT-Enabling Education for Sustainability
by Widad Othman, Vassilios Makrakis, Nelly Kostoulas-Makrakis, Zahari Hamidon, Oo Cheng Keat, Mohd Lokman Abdullah, Norazzila Shafie and Hamidah Mat
Sustainability 2024, 16(2), 749; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16020749 - 15 Jan 2024
Viewed by 828
Abstract
There is an increasing interest and effort in reorienting university curricula to address sustainability and preparing teachers to get involved in embedding sustainability and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in teaching and curricula enabled by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Evidence shows [...] Read more.
There is an increasing interest and effort in reorienting university curricula to address sustainability and preparing teachers to get involved in embedding sustainability and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in teaching and curricula enabled by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Evidence shows that this interest and effort is often prevented by various barriers at three levels: teacher- level barriers, school-level barriers, and system-level barriers. In this study, the attempt was geared towards identifying the constituencies of these three levels of barriers and examining the extent to which they predict teachers’ motivation to embed sustainability and SDGs in various school subject areas, including arts-based education. A survey of 1253 teachers in Malaysia revealed that the teacher- and system-level barriers explain 83% of the motivation variance. By identifying, addressing, and investigating these barriers, higher education institutions—and especially teacher education—could be better informed in reorienting university curricula to embed ICT-enabled Education for Sustainability (ICTeEfS). These results were also used in planning and implementing in-service teacher training interventions in the context of a European Commission Erasmus+-funded project. Full article
33 pages, 1088 KiB  
Article
Leveraging Systems Thinking, Engagement, and Digital Competencies to Enhance First-Year Architecture Students’ Achievement in Design-Based Learning
by Stanislav Avsec, Magdalena Jagiełło-Kowalczyk, Agnieszka Żabicka, Agata Gawlak and Joanna Gil-Mastalerczyk
Sustainability 2023, 15(20), 15115; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152015115 - 20 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1304
Abstract
In recent years, teaching and learning practices have transformed greatly due to emerging technologies. Despite various pedagogical and technological innovations, the learning effectiveness of the new learning environments is still being debated. Systems thinking concepts and methods are needed regarding how to accommodate [...] Read more.
In recent years, teaching and learning practices have transformed greatly due to emerging technologies. Despite various pedagogical and technological innovations, the learning effectiveness of the new learning environments is still being debated. Systems thinking concepts and methods are needed regarding how to accommodate digital technology to optimize the efficacy of students’ learning, especially when student cohort specificities are addressed. For the purpose of this study, we used an empirical research design supported by a bibliometric analysis. Multiple regression using dummy coding of the predictor variables was conducted to compare the prediction models across different groups of first-year students, while a sequential mediation model was used to examine the students’ perceptions of systems thinking, engagement in the design course, and information communication technology (ICT) self-concept in relation to academic achievements. The results indicate that systems thinking centered around the understanding of feedback behaviors and causal sequences in the system has a direct effect on the design outcome and ICT self-concept related to problem solving and cognitive engagement, while, indirectly, systems thinking also mediates achievement in design courses. The ICT self-concept related to problem solving and cognitive engagement mediates the relationship between systems thinking and design course achievement. This study highlights the importance of leveraging learning system dynamics factors in diverse student cohort design courses and provides implications for developing a high-performance digital education sustainable ecosystem. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

23 pages, 2666 KiB  
Article
Managing Competences of Generation Y and Z in the Opinion of the Employees in the Modern Business Services Sector in Poland in the Post-Pandemic Period
by Aleksandra Kuzior, Bartosz Sobotka, Katarzyna Anna Postrzednik-Lotko and Brygida Smołka-Franke
Sustainability 2023, 15(20), 14925; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152014925 - 16 Oct 2023
Viewed by 851
Abstract
The article deals with the issue of changes and competence needs occurring in the work environment related to the increasingly developed Modern Business Services (MBS) sector in Poland. The section “Competencies of Tomorrow and Education of the Future” devotes special attention to showing [...] Read more.
The article deals with the issue of changes and competence needs occurring in the work environment related to the increasingly developed Modern Business Services (MBS) sector in Poland. The section “Competencies of Tomorrow and Education of the Future” devotes special attention to showing the specific impact of soft/hard skills on teaching methodologies and, secondly, how soft/hard skills are linked to education for sustainable development. In order to answer the research questions posed, a survey was conducted. The target group covered by the research was people employed in the modern business services industry, representing the youngest generational groups, defined as Y (Millennials—the generation of people born between 1980 and 2000) and Z (the post-2000 generation just entering the workforce). The research was quantitative. Specifically, the results of the research should provide answers to the following research questions: (1) Were the competencies acquired during school education (high school, college) useful in performing professional tasks? (2) Which of the competencies acquired during education are most frequently used when performing professional tasks? (3) Which of the future required competencies (knowledge and skills) necessary/expected when performing professional tasks were not acquired during education? (4) Do employers value and use the competences acquired by employees during their education? (5) In addition to “hard” (technical) competences, do employers also check so-called “soft” (social/personal) competences during the recruitment process? (6) To what extent are the so-called “soft” competences, i.e., social/interpersonal and personal, becoming important in the modern business services sector, according to employees? The research was intended, on the one hand, to show the direction of expected changes in competencies, i.e., the range of knowledge and skills that is becoming necessary today from the point of view of the employer and the requirements for employees, and on the other hand to diagnose whether there is a discrepancy between the current educational systems at the level of secondary and higher education and the needs reported by employers of the sector under study. The research confirmed that the contemporary education system is not sufficient to prepare competent personnel for the modern business services sector. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

19 pages, 475 KiB  
Article
Embedding Sustainable Mathematics Higher Education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution Era Post-COVID-19: Exploring Technology-Based Teaching Methods
by Jayaluxmi Naidoo and Sarasvathie Reddy
Sustainability 2023, 15(12), 9692; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15129692 - 16 Jun 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1415
Abstract
Higher Education Institutions have adopted technology-based teaching methods to prevent the spreading of the contagious coronavirus (COVID-19). In the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) era, technology-based teaching methods are indispensable for scaffolding teaching, learning and assessment. Mathematics is an important discipline in education, and [...] Read more.
Higher Education Institutions have adopted technology-based teaching methods to prevent the spreading of the contagious coronavirus (COVID-19). In the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) era, technology-based teaching methods are indispensable for scaffolding teaching, learning and assessment. Mathematics is an important discipline in education, and provides a basis for problem solving, critical thinking and analytical skills, which is important to consider when focusing on sustainability. Thus, to add knowledge to the field about integrating technology-based teaching methods in mathematics, Higher Education environments during and post-COVID-19 need to be interrogated. This added knowledge is be valuable in the 4IR era post-COVID-19 for sustaining mathematics in Higher Education. This study explored participants’ experiences, views, implications and suggestions for technology-based teaching methods for mathematics. These participants (N = 45) were postgraduate students and mathematics school teachers at the research site in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The research location for this qualitative study was a South African Higher Education Institution, and the study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Community of Inquiry theoretical framework and the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition (SAMR) theoretical model guided this study. Participants were invited to two interactive online workshops. At these workshops, participants were introduced to different technology-based teaching methods. Then, they were invited to individual online interviews. The findings of this study suggest important experiences, views and suggestions for using technology-based teaching methods in Higher Education mathematics contexts in the 4IR era. These findings provide important implications and further research possibilities for embedding sustainable mathematics in Higher Education in the 4IR era, post-COVID-19. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

19 pages, 298 KiB  
Article
E-Service-Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Experiences of Mainland Chinese Students Enrolled at a University in Hong Kong
by Lu Yu, Meng Du and Xiaohua Zhou
Sustainability 2023, 15(12), 9211; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15129211 - 07 Jun 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1533
Abstract
E-learning has been proposed as a sustainable delivery method for higher education. During the COVID-19 pandemic, online/e-service-learning was widely adopted around the world as a replacement for face-to-face service learning, providing an opportunity to explore whether e-learning as a sustainable delivery method could [...] Read more.
E-learning has been proposed as a sustainable delivery method for higher education. During the COVID-19 pandemic, online/e-service-learning was widely adopted around the world as a replacement for face-to-face service learning, providing an opportunity to explore whether e-learning as a sustainable delivery method could be applied to service learning. The present study adopted a qualitative approach to investigate the e-service-learning experiences of Mainland Chinese students studying at a Hong Kong university with regard to their general perceptions about the e-service-learning projects, perceived learning gains, and factors associated with their learning gains. A total of 28 undergraduates who participated in e-service-learning in the 2020/21 academic year were recruited from different faculties of the university. Seven focus groups were established with the participants. The results showed that Mainland Chinese students generally had positive perceptions about their experiences in e-service-learning during the pandemic. They appreciated the convenient and effective online learning and service, although they needed contact that is more direct with service recipients to deepen their reflection. Students perceived that they had improved their problem-solving skills and subject knowledge; they also gained meaningful personal growth and positive emotions through e-service-learning. Facilitators of and barriers to students’ effective learning were also identified. The findings provide important evidence for the effectiveness of e-service-learning from the perspective of Mainland Chinese students at Hong Kong universities and the potential of e-service-learning as a sustainable delivery method for service-learning programs in the post-pandemic era. Full article

Review

Jump to: Research

16 pages, 799 KiB  
Review
Research Trends in Learning Needs Assessment: A Review of Publications in Selected Journals from 1997 to 2023
by Hee Jun Choi and Ji Hye Park
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010382 - 31 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1322
Abstract
This study analyzes existing research on learning needs assessments to identify key insights into the discipline and propose implications for future studies. Eighty-nine SSCI journal articles from 1997 to 2023 were reviewed. The findings are as follows. Firstly, concerning the nature of learning [...] Read more.
This study analyzes existing research on learning needs assessments to identify key insights into the discipline and propose implications for future studies. Eighty-nine SSCI journal articles from 1997 to 2023 were reviewed. The findings are as follows. Firstly, concerning the nature of learning needs, prominent fields identified included education, social welfare, medicine and nursing, business, and psychology. Research identifying the learning needs of medical staff was the most prevalent, followed by K–12 teachers, lifelong learners without professional goals, university faculty, and social workers. Notably, Europe and North America were the primary research regions. Secondly, researchers mostly employed quantitative data, then combined methodologies, and qualitative data. Numerous studies involved only target learners in their needs assessments, with fewer involving stakeholders. Many studies did not employ multi-faceted approaches combining different source inputs or incorporating complementary needs assessment methods. Future needs assessment studies should involve diverse individuals and integrate indicators such as relevant test results or performance appraisal outcomes to obtain more trustworthy data for the needs assessment process. Most studies containing quantitative analysis components used mean values to determine learning needs. The ranked discrepancy model is recommended when conducting ordinal surveys for learning needs assessment to avoid misinterpretations and inaccurate conclusions. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

25 pages, 411 KiB  
Review
Developing Design Principles for Sustainability-Oriented Blended Learning in Higher Education
by Marieke Versteijlen and Arjen E. J. Wals
Sustainability 2023, 15(10), 8150; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15108150 - 17 May 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2046
Abstract
Climate change forces higher educational institutions (HEI) to reconsider their traditional ways of teaching and organising education. This implies that they should reduce their impact on the environment and provide sustainability-oriented education. Blended learning (fusion of on-campus and online learning) may provide an [...] Read more.
Climate change forces higher educational institutions (HEI) to reconsider their traditional ways of teaching and organising education. This implies that they should reduce their impact on the environment and provide sustainability-oriented education. Blended learning (fusion of on-campus and online learning) may provide an appealing solution to achieve both objectives. It may reduce HEI’s climate impact by reducing student travel to and from campus and support the development of students’ sustainability competencies. In this paper, pedagogical design principles and recommendations are developed to design such a sustainability-oriented blended learning configuration. A realist review methodology is used to distil and develop pedagogical principles for blended learning. These principles were mirrored against pedagogical approaches that have been identified as suitable for developing sustainability competencies. This mirroring revealed some overlap but also some notable differences. Common principles include self-regulation, community building, discussion, knowledge management, and collaboration, but some principles identified in sustainability-oriented education are noticeably absent, including self-awareness, orientation towards sustainable change, and interdisciplinary collaboration. The insights guide designing sustainability-oriented blended learning and vice versa can also provide ideas for people working in off-line place-based contexts on sustainability-oriented education, to consider blended options. Full article
Back to TopTop