This week we presented our project with an ESD group at KTH university. We had an interesting discussion about how the Sustainability Competence Assessment tool is designed and what type of competence it measures. The questionnaire uses scales already tested in the Sustainability in Higher Education (SHE) literature, which we discuss in our recently published article An Assessment of Key Sustainability Competencies: A Review of Scales and Propositions for Validation (2022). International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. DOI: 10.1108/IJSHE-05-2022-0166. The scales have been tested across the campus over several years and we have found reliable and valid results. We are continuously adapting the scales to improve validity of the scales in different disciplines.
We discussed the differences between the information we can get from using quantitative assessment tools (like ours) and qualitative assessment tools. Thoughts about how to best implement both types of assessments and when it might be more relevant to use one type and when to combine both quantitative and qualitative assessments were shared. We find that it is best to use our tool to help better understand the students’ competence to work for sustainability. Teachers can find out how confident the students feel towards their sustainability competence and provide opportunities for students to advance their skills and abilities to build on their confidence to work for sustainability. In the process the students will probably gain knowledge about sustainability too but gaining knowledge about sustainability is a competence that the students will mostly learn through their discipline on the program and in their life-long learning journey.
Other assessment tools, quantitative or qualitative, can be used alongside our Sustainability Competence Assessment tool so that the teacher can better understand how much the students have learnt for sustainability and how much the students have gained knowledge about sustainability. Support from as many sources as possible will provide the variety of perspectives usually needed to fully understand the whole picture of what is required to help a situation; in this case we are working to advance our education for sustainability to provide a learning progression approach.
Thank you to everyone at KTH that joined the discussion this week. We really appreciate the feedback and questions you had. We look forward to future collaboration and work with you soon.