Pre-service teachers’ attitudes toward education for sustainability and its relevance to their learning: implications for pedagogical practice

  • paper in current issue

Louisa Tomas, Sarah Girgenti & Cliff Jackson

Pages: 324-347 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1109065


The education for sustainability (EfS) literature espouses participatory, praxis-orientated, place-based and holistic approaches to teaching and learning. The introduction of a first-year EfS unit for pre-service teachers at James Cook University provided an opportunity to explore their attitudes toward EfS and their perceptions of the relevant aspects of the unit to their learning. In this mixed-methods study, pre-service teachers (N = 100) completed a Likert-style survey at the beginning and end of the unit that examined their attitudes toward EfS. Three pre-service teachers were also interviewed to explore further their perceptions and experiences, one semester after completing the unit. Significant improvements were found in pre-service teachers’ EfS self-efficacy, and familiarity with and interest in sustainability issues. Participants also perceived EfS to be relevant to their learning, particularly the praxis-orientated pedagogies in which they engaged, as they believed it developed their knowledge, skills and confidence to teach sustainability in schools. For one pre-service teacher, her experiences of EfS during her practicum enhanced its relevance, as she was able to link theory and practice. The implications of these findings for both teacher education and pedagogical practice for EfS in higher education are also discussed.

Keywords: education for sustainability, teacher education, attitudes, self-efficacy, pedagogy



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