Educator agency in the enactment of sustainability practices

Year: 2016

Author: Moore, Deborah, Almeida, Sylvia, Barnes, Melissa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Implementation of sustainability initiatives and the evaluation of these programs can often be tokenistic. In adhering to the theme of transforming education research, this paper challenges these tokenistic approaches by evaluating the impact of a sustainability initiative with a view to unravel realities of educators’ approaches towards implementation of a centrally mandated policy in relation to sustainability practices in educational settings. This is of special relevance given ACARA and its prioritisation of ‘sustainability for students to develop the knowledge, skills, values and worldviews necessary to contribute to more sustainable patterns of living’ (ACARA, 2016). This paper will evaluate a government initiative that provided primary and secondary schools with a Data Collection, Storage and Visualisations System (DCSVS) to further their awareness of sustainability outcomes. The initiative aimed to align policy and practice, with a focus on, bringing attention to possible ways to embed sustainability as part of everyday practice in schools. In addition to this aim, the program offered early childhood and school leaders, teachers and students avenues to engage with their consumption of natural resources. This in turn was anticipated to increase awareness about conservation, with the long-term aim to ultimately lead to an engagement with the broader themes of sustainability. This research aims to study the educational benefits of these programs and their role in working with a curricular emphasis on sustainability. The data consists of surveys distributed to primary and secondary teachers and school leaders (e.g. principals, sustainability leaders, and business managers, etc.). The surveys are both quantitative and qualitative in nature in order to answer questions such as How often? Why? How? and make direct links to how the program is furthering sustainability practices and outcomes. The aim of this research project is to explore how this particular initiative and the associated resources it offers is realised as a tool in classroom practices and to provide recommendations to further sustainability outcomes. The project seeks to understand the user-friendliness of these resources, in addition to understanding the access to professional education and support that educators receive in order to work with the resources that enable embedment into their everyday teaching practices.