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Topical Collection "Towards a Sustainable Future through Innovative STEM Education"

Editors

Prof. Dr. Maija Aksela
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
LUMA Science Helsinki, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
Interests: science education; STEM education; sustainability education; teacher education; student-centred education; ICT education; non-formal and informal education and co-design
Prof. Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Interests: STEM education; educational technology; teacher education
Dr. Sakari Tolppanen
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, University of Eastern Finland, 80130 Joensuu, Finland
Interests: STEM education; educational technology; teacher education

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

The world is changing, and education needs to change with it. The aim of this Special Issue, “Towards a Sustainable Future through Innovative STEM Education” is to provide understanding on how innovative STEM education can engage and empower students towards sustainability in a changing world.

This Special Issue will especially focus on novel ways (e.g., pedagogical solutions and models) to promote sustainability through formal, non-formal, and informal education from early childhood to post-secondary school as well as in pre-service and in-service teacher education. The exploration of the STEM and sustainability education nexus will allow the exploration of topics relevant to many 21st century educators. For example, to address such questions as:

How can STEM education contribute to solving sustainability issues (e.g., climate change and the COVID crisis)?

How can we educate students to solve real-life problems using STEM knowledge in a sustainable way?

How can innovative technologies help us in the context of sustainable STEM education?

How can we educate future STEM teachers and teachers to incorporate sustainability issues in their teaching practices?

Prof. Dr. Maija Aksela
Prof. Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin
Dr. Sakari Tolppanen
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 collection 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 2000 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

  • STEM education
  • sustainability education
  • climate change
  • ICT education
  • educational technology
  • teacher education

Published Papers (9 papers)

2022

Jump to: 2021

Article
Supporting the Relevance of Chemistry Education through Sustainable Ionic Liquids Context: A Research-Based Design Approach
Sustainability 2022, 14(10), 6220; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14106220 - 20 May 2022
Viewed by 418
Abstract
By introducing the sustainable nature of chemistry to students—makers of the future—teachers, and teacher students we can promote their scientific literacy and increase understanding of the relevance of chemistry research and studies in sustainability. Ionic liquids are a topical example of innovation of [...] Read more.
By introducing the sustainable nature of chemistry to students—makers of the future—teachers, and teacher students we can promote their scientific literacy and increase understanding of the relevance of chemistry research and studies in sustainability. Ionic liquids are a topical example of innovation of green chemistry research offering many possibilities for sustainable chemistry education. This article describes how to develop research-based learning materials on ionic liquids using educational design research as a design strategy. The design process included two cycles and the initial design solution was iterated via a qualitative case study conducted with future chemistry teachers. The main result of this research is the designed context-based activity that engages learners with individual, vocational, and societal levels of relevance. In addition, the study produced new insights into future chemistry teachers’ perceptions of ionic liquids’ possibilities in a chemistry learning context. According to future chemistry teachers, ionic liquids are an interesting new context for laboratory learning and can increase interest in chemistry studies. Full article
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Project Report
Girls in STEM: Addressing SDG 4 in Context
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 4897; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14094897 - 19 Apr 2022
Viewed by 469
Abstract
Raising girls’ aspirations for STEM careers is one way to address Sustainability Development Goal 4 (SDG4)—quality education—which seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Various strategies have been suggested in STEM education research literature to [...] Read more.
Raising girls’ aspirations for STEM careers is one way to address Sustainability Development Goal 4 (SDG4)—quality education—which seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Various strategies have been suggested in STEM education research literature to achieve this. One such initiative begins with exposing girls to STEM industries during their formative school years. While a range of industry-school partnerships exist, examples of successful models that might inform practice are scarce. This article describes an investigation into how industry professionals, university educators, teachers, and students successfully implemented a STEM education experience (Girls as Leaders in STEM (GALS)). Formative and summative evaluation processes were used to generate data through a co-design research approach to describe and measure changes in student practices, attitudes, and engagement in relation to STEM and leadership as a result of connecting to industry problems. This research focused on the analysis of teacher and student interview data generated upon the completion of the program, which provided feedback on the different aspects of the process and, in particular, the role of industry in relation to the girls’ attitudes. This research highlights the benefits of industry involvement with girls in terms of their engagement with STEM, the authenticity of STEM learning, and the novelty of the learning experience. These benefits are discussed with respect to how they can raise girls’ STEM aspirations and ensure equitable educational opportunities—aligning with SDG4. Full article
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Article
Early Childhood STEM Education for Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2022, 14(6), 3524; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14063524 - 17 Mar 2022
Viewed by 644
Abstract
Early childhood education is crucial for the development of young children’s understanding of the natural world. Children have a role in sustaining a viable environmental and social future. This research interrogated key ideas concerning STEM education for sustainable development, drawing on seminal research [...] Read more.
Early childhood education is crucial for the development of young children’s understanding of the natural world. Children have a role in sustaining a viable environmental and social future. This research interrogated key ideas concerning STEM education for sustainable development, drawing on seminal research and a range of government policy documents to formulate a futures-oriented approach to supporting children to build understandings in early childhood sustainability. Through the use of ethnography, a research methodology that uses both participation and observation of research participants, it became apparent that young children’s play-based learning enabled agentic responses in aligning with early understanding of STEM and sustainability. Using accepted descriptors of international Sustainable Development Goals within an early childhood research study, the research highlights how the development of interactive, learner-centred STEM teaching not only enables investigative, action-adapted learning, but also fosters independent learners who are responsive to their natural environment. The implication of this research is that further development of children’s environmental agency is suggested by the authors. The introduction of a whole-of-kindergarten approach that focuses on the systemic development of quality STEM education is posited as an avenue for educators to build young children’s understandings of sustainable development. Full article
Article
Health First: The Sustainable Development of Physical Education in Chinese Schools
Sustainability 2022, 14(5), 3133; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14053133 - 07 Mar 2022
Viewed by 867
Abstract
Strengthening school physical education (PE) is of great strategic significance in enhancing students’ all-round development, which mainly includes their morality, intelligence and physique development. School PE has upheld the guiding ideology of ‘health first’ and continuously enhanced PE development in China. The guiding [...] Read more.
Strengthening school physical education (PE) is of great strategic significance in enhancing students’ all-round development, which mainly includes their morality, intelligence and physique development. School PE has upheld the guiding ideology of ‘health first’ and continuously enhanced PE development in China. The guiding ideology of ‘health first’ has involved three stages: (1) improving students’ physical conditions; (2) enhancing students’ physical health, mental health and ability to socially adapt; and (3) promoting students’ all-round human development. This paper provides a comprehensive review of the social and political contexts, aims, policies and practice of Chinese school PE, and goes on to analyze different sports views that reshape the value orientation of ‘health first’. Moreover, this paper shows that a regulated and institutionalized Chinese school PE system has gradually formed with the evolving ideology of ‘health first’ and policy changes, but it has a long way to accomplish the new mission of ‘foster virtue through education’ in students’ all-round development. For students’ all-round development, Chinese school PE needs to prioritize the value proposition of ‘foster virtue through education’, advance the theoretical research on PE curriculum and teaching materials, and further enhance the reform of the assessment and evaluation system of constitutional health. Eventually, a new national school PE core curriculum needs to be established to integrate the mission of ‘foster virtue through education’ and guiding ideology of ‘health first’ together. Full article

2021

Jump to: 2022

Article
Sustainable Development Indicators—Untapped Tools for Sustainability and STEM Education: An Analysis of a Popular Czech Educational Website
Sustainability 2022, 14(1), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14010121 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 618
Abstract
Environmental education has been included in Czech curricula since the 1980s, albeit without clear evidence of education for sustainable development (SD), which addresses complex socio-economic issues using SD indicators (SDIs), such as charts, single numbers, tables, maps, and (interactive) images. However, understanding such [...] Read more.
Environmental education has been included in Czech curricula since the 1980s, albeit without clear evidence of education for sustainable development (SD), which addresses complex socio-economic issues using SD indicators (SDIs), such as charts, single numbers, tables, maps, and (interactive) images. However, understanding such a comprehensive topic requires developing basic mathematical knowledge and skills. In this study, we aimed to analyse the nature, quality, and availability of teaching materials for SD, primarily using SDIs, which could be applied by Czech teachers. For this purpose, we performed a qualitative and basic quantitative content analysis of several descriptors of documents retrieved from a website for teachers, provided by the National Pedagogical Institute of the Czech Republic. A full-text search identified 1376 records, which were analyzed for SD pillars and SDIs. Our results showed that most records (95%) do not contain SDIs in teaching materials. Only 59 records mentioned (128) SDIs, mostly covering the environmental pillar, 26 of which contain a single SDI. The most frequent issues were waste production, treatment, savings, water parameters, and energy consumption. Mathematical skills were used in 56 SDIs, primarily for evaluating data sets and quantitative expressions of an amount. Overall, only a small number of SDIs are used in education for SD, economic and social SDIs are in the minority, and the STEM potential remains untapped. Full article
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Review
Experimental Work in Science Education from Green Chemistry Perspectives: A Systematic Literature Review Using PRISMA
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 12977; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132312977 - 23 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 978
Abstract
Experimental work is an important component of science subjects at all educational levels. The implication of green chemistry ideas indicated the need for optimization of traditional experimental work by implementing green chemistry principles to promote sustainable development. The aim of the study is [...] Read more.
Experimental work is an important component of science subjects at all educational levels. The implication of green chemistry ideas indicated the need for optimization of traditional experimental work by implementing green chemistry principles to promote sustainable development. The aim of the study is to present findings from a systematic literature review on the use of experimental work in science education from green chemistry perspectives in the literature from 1995 to 2020. Thus, three electronic databases were reviewed following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews (PRISMA) guidelines. The literature search identified a total of 1199 papers from Web of Science (N = 419), Scopus (N = 578), and Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) (N = 202). After applying inclusion/exclusion criteria, 263 papers were obtained and then analyzed in further detail. The findings highlighted trends in the integration of green chemistry principles into experimental work from primary to tertiary education levels and identified a literature gap, as well as the challenges and the possibilities for future development. The review outlined various opportunities for active learning within experimental work from green chemistry perspectives using a range of methods, with a particular focus on practical, hands-on, and laboratory activities. Full article
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Article
Is the Earth Crying Wolf? Exploring Knowledge Source and Certainty in High School Students’ Analysis of Global Warming News
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12899; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212899 - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 544
Abstract
The marked contrast between the scientific consensus on global warming and public beliefs indicates a need to research how high schoolers, as future citizens, engage with and make meaning from news articles on such topics. In the case of socioscientific issues (SSIs) such [...] Read more.
The marked contrast between the scientific consensus on global warming and public beliefs indicates a need to research how high schoolers, as future citizens, engage with and make meaning from news articles on such topics. In the case of socioscientific issues (SSIs) such as global warming, students’ acquisition of knowledge from the news is mediated by their epistemic understandings of the nature of science (NOS) and use of informal reasoning in evaluating claims, evidence, and sources. This exploratory qualitative study examined twelve U.S. high school students’ understandings, opinions, and epistemic beliefs concerning global warming knowledge. Researchers examined microgenetic changes as students discussed global warming during semi-structured interviews and a close reading of global warming news texts. Although results showed that most students could articulate a working concept of global warming, in follow-up questions, a subset offered personal opinions that differed from or contradicted their previously stated understandings. Meanwhile, students who offered opinions consistent with the scientific consensus often argued that the dangers of global warming were exaggerated by politicians and scientists who wished to profit from the issue. This study suggests a need for more explicit focus on NOS and scientific news literacy in curricula, as well as further research into the interplay between epistemic beliefs and the informal reasoning students use to negotiate diverse sources of SSI knowledge—from the classroom to the news media and public life. Full article
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Article
Toward Integrated and Inclusive Education for Sustainability with School–University Cooperation
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12486; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212486 - 12 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 568
Abstract
Sustainable development has been a topic in the Finnish core curriculum for several years, but integrating this cross-cutting theme into a subject-based curriculum is perceived to be difficult. Hence, the city of Lappeenranta has developed its own educational model to support the development [...] Read more.
Sustainable development has been a topic in the Finnish core curriculum for several years, but integrating this cross-cutting theme into a subject-based curriculum is perceived to be difficult. Hence, the city of Lappeenranta has developed its own educational model to support the development of pupils’ ecosocial attitudes and abilities. This study evaluates the implemented educational model by empirically examining the pupils’ perceptions of sustainability as well as studying differences between different groups of pupils. Analysis methods consisted of a combination of factor analysis, linear regression, and statistical tests for group differences. Young people were discovered to hold three different kinds of orientations to environmental issues and ecological sustainability. These were coupled with different perceptions of science, technology, and business in a way that indicates three different types of perceptions of a more holistic conception of sustainability. The significant differences in the sustainability-related perceptions between girls and boys as well as between pupils with different educational aspirations suggest that in the future, special attention needs to be paid to develop the educational model for better equity and inclusivity. Full article
Article
Reconceptualizing STEM Education in China as Praxis: A Curriculum Turn
by
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4961; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094961 - 28 Apr 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1121
Abstract
STEM education has drawn considerable international attention in recent decades. Current practices of STEM Education in China have shown that STEM is understood primarily as a policy-driven and economic problem. This paper challenges the reduced technical frameworks of STEM education and draws on [...] Read more.
STEM education has drawn considerable international attention in recent decades. Current practices of STEM Education in China have shown that STEM is understood primarily as a policy-driven and economic problem. This paper challenges the reduced technical frameworks of STEM education and draws on the theoretical framework of the reconceptualization movement in the curriculum field. It aims to shift scientific or social science paradigms with languages of humanity to reapproach STEM education. STEM education is hence reconceptualized as praxis in its lived, ethical and historical dimensions. It would transform STEM education in China from being targeted for economic growth to attending to lived, nuanced and rich STEM experiences, structured by ethics and threaded by history. STEM teachers and teacher educators are advised to understand anew about STEM in their situatedness. STEM could serve as an opportunity to critically reflect on and research each discipline in greater depth with inter-disciplinary lenses. Instead of integrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics seamlessly to form omnipotent toolsets for the 21st-century workforce in China and on the international landscape, a reconceptualization of STEM as praxis could continue to generate more sustainable STEM education. Full article
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