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From recycling to sustainability principles: the perceptions of undergraduate students studying early childhood education of an education for sustainability course

Adiv Gal (The Center of Education for Environmental Sustainability, Kibbutzim College of Education Technology and the Arts, Tel Aviv, Israel)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 6 January 2023

17

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the perceptions of undergraduate students studying early childhood education who took an academic course in which transformative pedagogy is adopted as part of a holistic approach designed to create transformative change and strengthen the students’ self-efficacy for sustainability, and thus, help reduce the environmental crisis in which we live.

Design/methodology/approach

By means of a phenomenological approach, this exploratory qualitative research used three research tools, reflection analysis, drawing analysis and analysis of course summary work, to identify changes in the perceptions of students undertaking the course. Data analysis was based on an inductive approach and included first- and second-cycle coding.

Findings

The results of the study show that the transformative pedagogy adopted in the course created transformative change in the students’ knowledge, attitudes, emotions and self-efficacy to act to reduce the climate crisis, not just through recycling.

Research limitations/implications

The study was conducted with a relatively small, single class of undergraduate early childhood education students. The impact of certain activities may be different in larger classes. The gender imbalance, with the majority of students being female adds a further limitation. Male students may have different perspectives than female students, and those with different backgrounds and interests may respond differently.

Practical implications

This study provides some important insights into how sustainability education can be applied in a higher education curriculum. The study also contributes to the current dialogue on sustainability education by providing a rich description of how students experience alternative approaches to teaching in the field.

Originality/value

This study demonstrates how environmental action can be integrated in higher education.

Keywords

Citation

Gal, A. (2023), "From recycling to sustainability principles: the perceptions of undergraduate students studying early childhood education of an education for sustainability course", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-05-2022-0165

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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