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Student Perceptions of Engineers’ Versus Teachers’ Roles and Responsibilities in Contributing to Sustainable Development

Teaching and Learning Strategies for Sustainable Development

ISBN: 978-1-78973-640-3, eISBN: 978-1-78973-639-7

ISSN: 2055-3641

Publication date: 27 May 2020

Abstract

In this study, we critically examine how students enrolled in a combined engineering and teacher education program given at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, understand the concept of sustainable development (SD) and the professional responsibilities of engineers versus teachers in contributing to this goal. A questionnaire was used to collect and analyze data based on five research questions: (1) How do students conceptualize the notion of SD? (2) What aspects of SD are students interested in? (3) Are there any gender differences in what aspects of SD students are interested in? (4) How do students perceive the roles and responsibilities of engineers versus teachers in contributing to SD? and (5) How confident are students in their abilities to address SD issues vocationally? The data indicated a conventional view of SD among the students; a clear interest in sustainability issues, especially for ecologically linked questions; a tendency to ascribe significant but differentiated responsibilities to engineers/teachers; and a low degree of confidence in their own ability to adequately address SD issues vocationally. The data also indicated differences between male and female students when looking at interest in different aspects of SD. Overall, female students were found to be slightly more interested in SD than the male students. This gender difference is larger in relation to social aspects than ecological or economic aspects. It is suggested that future sustainable development education needs a shift of focus from what separates female and male students to what unites them. The observed “confidence gap” that exists between stated degree of interest in, and perceived importance of, sustainability issues, suggests the potential for significant improvement of the design of the Master of Science in Engineering and in Education program (CL-program).

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Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the student informants for their participation in our study.

Citation

Björnberg, K.E., Skogh, I.-B. and Gumaelius, L. (2020), "Student Perceptions of Engineers’ Versus Teachers’ Roles and Responsibilities in Contributing to Sustainable Development", Sengupta, E., Blessinger, P. and Yamin, T.S. (Ed.) Teaching and Learning Strategies for Sustainable Development (Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning, Vol. 19), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 177-195. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2055-364120200000019015

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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