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Incorporating collaborative learning in teacher education to foster self-efficacy to implement environmental citizenship: an action research

Dafna Gan (Faculty of Science Education, Center of Sustainability and Environmental Education, Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts, Tel Aviv, Israel)
Iris Alkaher (Faculty of Science Education, Center of Sustainability and Environmental Education, Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts, Tel Aviv, Israel)
Tamar Segal (Faculty of Science Education, Center of Sustainability and Environmental Education, Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts, Tel Aviv, Israel)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 13 September 2022

Issue publication date: 3 February 2023

399

Abstract

Purpose

Engaging students in environmental citizenship to promote education for sustainability (EfS) as an explicit goal of academic courses is not common, notwithstanding wide consensus on its importance. Collaborative learning has rarely been investigated using action research methods in the context of environmental citizenship in higher education; the purpose of this study is to fill the gap.

Design/methodology/approach

Adopting Bandura's (2012) theory of self-efficacy and collective efficacy, this study explores how collaborative learning, used throughout an action research-based course, encouraged students’ efficacy to implement environmental citizenship in their communities. Data were collected through multiple sources: students’ written reflections, instructors’ reflective journals and continuous discussions, interviews with students and different documents (course syllabi, lesson plans and students' scientific posters).

Findings

The findings of this study indicate that the authors succeeded in creating an appropriate social academic setting for the students to become acquainted with each other and to share ideas, successes and challenges in an accepting atmosphere, which proved beneficial to developing their self-confidence to promote EfS in practice. Adopting collaborative learning in the context of environmental citizenship also increased students' self-efficacy and collective efficacy. Self-efficacy was strengthened in the four sources discussed by Bandura (2012): mastery experiences, social modeling, social persuasion and emotional states. Collective efficacy was developed both in the academic and practical domains.

Originality/value

The findings of this study suggest that collaborative learning could serve as a powerful way to promote EfS in higher education, especially in teacher education. This contribution was achieved through integrating academic and practical knowledge foundations, which are required to implement environmental citizenship successfully, supporting learners’ initial steps towards becoming change agents in the society.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the participants and the students for their cooperation and agreement to participate in this study. The authors appreciate the funding of the Kibbutzim College of Education which supported this study.

Citation

Gan, D., Alkaher, I. and Segal, T. (2023), "Incorporating collaborative learning in teacher education to foster self-efficacy to implement environmental citizenship: an action research", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 700-718. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-07-2021-0258

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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