Real world problems are rarely confined by disciplinary boundaries. Typical of different sustainability issues is that they touch on several different areas of science. To get answers to the questions that issues of sustainability pose, a certain amount of knowledge and skills must be drawn from the different disciplines. These are often quite good to measure with traditional measuring tools. In addition to traditional instruments measuring knowledge and skills, teaching and learning about climate change /sustainability/ sustainable development, also requires a change in values, opinions, and feeling, changes which are much more difficult to measure in students and adults. These aspects cannot be measured by traditional quantitative test methods.
All national curricula within the project describe various forms of interdisciplinary learning under terms such as phenomenon-based learning, subjectintegrated learning and project learning. Teachers in the participating countries are looking for concrete tools for how objectives that affect values and different competences can be followed up, communicated and measured. The challenges are great, especially for subject teachers who are accustomed to being able to focus on one field of science.
Within the project, we will strive to develop and pilot a measurement tool with which one could demonstrate changed action readiness, social skills and changed values.
After an initial analysis of the four different national curricula and available research in the area during the fall of 2021, we saw a clear need for
- Reflection and discussion within the project group about our perceptions of the concepts formative assessment, attitudes and values with focus on resilience and sustainable development
- Review and sharing of experiences, opportunities and challenges
- Testing different variants of tools in concrete teaching contexts
- Continued and in-depth research in the area
1. Concrete measures until autumn 2022:
The use of Concept Cartoons (CC) in science learning was developed in 1991 by Keogh and Naylor. The model is a strategy for visualising and challenging students' perceptions of scientific concepts and phenomena. With the help of the strategy, the teacher gains knowledge about the students' perceptions - a knowledge that can be used to adapt the teaching to the right level and to support the students to abandon concepts that do not correspond to the current scientific perceptions.
During their work with the Storyline-project “The future village” Katarinaskolan tried out concept cartoons as a tool for formative assessment. Themes in the specific cartoons were - The children’s personal visions of a sustainable future in the local area
- The children’s conception of their own persistence in their work with the school project
As the children were young (8 years old) they got reading help with the alternative texts in the CC. The children reflected on the cartoons twice – before the storyline project and after the project. They answered individually by marking the chosen picture on the IPad screen. According to the teacher the CC fulfilled the purpose to function as a formative tool – for the pupil to reflect on his/her own thinking before and after, as a ground for further discussion and for the teacher to get a view on the pupils’ thinking.
2. Collegial work within the partner school
During the spring 2022 the teachers at Backatorpsskolan have, based on the national curriculum, discussed and reflected on different values, central competences and social skills, and how these are visualised and assessed in their teaching. In April 2022 Ann-Catherine Henriksson, Åbo Akademi, attended one of the planning afternoons at the school. During this afternoon we discussed formative assessment overall and assessment of knowledge versus assessment of skills, attitudes, values, feelings.
"If you want young people to become emocratically and empathetically minded, deomocracy and empathy must be something that is actively proctised in school and should be given a large place and the learning should take place across subjects, preferably in hte form of projects, or theme-based" (Quote from a steering document at the school.)
The themes are implemented in the work in the classes in early autumn and much effort is laid on the assessment of the competencies. During the event in Slovenia the participants had the opportunity to reflect on and discuss the challenge of assessment overall and the assessment of values, attitudes and feelings in particular. The session started with the presentation
3. “To make the immeasurable visible” – a session during the Learning and teaching event in Slovenia, June 2022.
During the learning and teaching event in Slovenia the participants had the opportunity to discuss the challenge of assessment overall and the assessment of values, attitudes and feelings in particular. The participants tested some formative activities and assessment tools. An important part of the time during the session was devoted to comparing how the attitudes, values are visualised in the national curricula and how the assessment of these is described.
In the evaluation and reflection form after the learning and teaching event the participants wrote as follows.
“Critical thinking skills are crucial for the ability to understand an unknown future and for being able to analyse sustainability as an ethical and complex issue in society.”
4. Upcoming work during autumn 2022 – spring 2023
The agenda for the upcoming work with the assessment tool:
- Project meeting in Åbo, October. Assessment overall and the assessment tool package in particular will be the main topic during this meeting.
- The work with testing and analysing of different activities and tools for assessment will continue.
- The compilation of a digital toolbox around assessment. The toolbox will be uploaded to the project's portal to be available to teachers and contain:
This part of the project is lead by Åbo Akademi.