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COVID-19 and lockdown schooling: how digital learning environments influence semantic structures and sustainability knowledge

Authors
  • Fiedler, Sonja T.1
  • Heyne, Thomas2
  • Bogner, Franz X.3
  • 1 University of Würzburg, Matthias-Lexer-Weg 25, Würzburg, 97074, Germany , Würzburg (Germany)
  • 2 University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany , Würzburg (Germany)
  • 3 University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany , Bayreuth (Germany)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Discover Sustainability
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Publication Date
Jul 25, 2021
Volume
2
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s43621-021-00041-y
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Research
License
Green

Abstract

Promoting sustainable lifestyles through Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is part of the UN’s Agenda 2030. Earlier empirical studies proved direct interactions with and in natural environments to be effective ESD methods. Pandemic-related lockdowns rendered such courses nearly impossible, which raised concerns about achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in general. To evaluate what young learners know about the concept sustainability so far and how it can be taught effectively online, we designed an online learning module tackling sustainability issues and compared it with data from an on-site intervention module for Bavarian 5th graders (~ 10 years old). Cognitive learning as well as attitudinal preferences of 288 learners were monitored in a pretest–posttest design. The learning module comprised two sections: One about botany, plant characteristics, and plant families; the other about the advantages and disadvantages of traditional as well as sustainable farming methods. The customized cognitive test and semantic differentials for sustainability and environmental protection produced three major findings: (1) A digital learning environment successfully and significantly increased sustainability knowledge (2) Learners clearly distinguished the concepts Sustainability and Environmental Protection (3) There is no direct correlation between semantic differential scores and learning outcome.

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