Developing ESD: what role for indicators?
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Developing ESD: what role for indicators? William Scott Centre for Research in Education and the Environment University of Bath [email protected] www.bath.ac.uk/cree. What is an indicator? a device for showing the operating condition of some system a signal for attracting attention

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Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

Developing ESD: what role for indicators?

William Scott

Centre for Research in Education and the Environment

University of Bath

[email protected]

www.bath.ac.uk/cree


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

  • What is an indicator?

  • a device for showing the operating condition of some

    system

  • a signal for attracting attention

  • an indirect measure of a broad concept which cannot

    be measured directly

  • any of various statistical values that together provide

    an indication of the condition or direction of a process

    or system


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

  • Functions of indicators

  • to monitor change and assess trends

  • to evaluate the effects of actions

  • to engage people and help communicate

  • to focus attention on important issues


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

Functions of indicators

Talking about sustainable development is not enough… .

We must hold ourselves to account as a government,

but also as a country. All this depends on devising

new ways to assess how we are doing

Tony Blair, introduction to the UK Sustainable Development Strategy, 1999


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

  • Properties of indicators

  • selective / simplifying

  • technical or resonant

  • assessing performance or process

  • qualitative or quantitative

  • present / absent


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

Limitations of indicators

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not

everything that counts can be counted

Albert Einstein


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

  • Limitations of indicators

  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a widely-used indicator

    for economic development

  • are data available and valid?

  • does all economic activity contribute to economic development?

  • is GDP a valid indicator of economic welfare, or economic potential?


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

  • Selecting indicators

  • single or multiple indicators?

  • do indicators relate to process or system?

  • do they meet the needs of policy makers / practitioners?

  • do they indicate what’s important / show trends?

  • are they understandable: simplifying, but not oversimplifying?

  • are they easily measurable?

  • can they inform action?


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

Indicators in the UK strategy

Indicators are central to the monitoring and reporting of

progress towards sustainable development. They are also

powerful tools which can help focus public attention on what

sustainable development means and to give a broad overview

of whether we are achieving ‘a better quality of life for

everyone, now and for generations to come’.

UK Sustainable Development Strategy, 1999


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

  • Indicators in the UK strategy

  • 147 indicators, 15 headline indicators

  • split into ‘economic growth’, ‘social progress’, ‘environmental protection’

  • headline indicators published annually as ‘quality of life’ barometer

  • mostly performance indicators

  • mostly existing national statistics

  • indicator model problematic (Foster et al.)


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

  • Learning indicators in the UK strategy

  • Level 2 qualifications at Age 19

  • Other indicators include those on adult literacy and numeracy, participation in lifelong learning, truancies and exclusions from school

  • Awareness of Sustainable Development in Schools

    - how does awareness relate to understanding?

    - how does understanding relate to sustainable development?


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

New Indicators

  • But we need indicators that are …

  • beyond attendance (and percentages staying on at school, or going to higher education) – though spending more rather than less time being appropriately educated is to be encouraged

  • beyond qualifications and proportions qualifying – though the more learned and skilled we are, the better all our lives will surely be.


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

New Indicators

  • … and that are …

  • beyond content (that is, expert-specified concepts, outcomes and assessment) – though knowledge is important

  • beyond experts (ie, having to know exactly what others know otherwise it doesn’t count as knowledge - although we need to take seriously people’s experience (wherein, after all, lies their expertise)


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

  • Current Education Learning Indicators

  • Level 2 Qualifications at Age 19

  • The impact of formal learning on knowledge and

    awareness of sustainable development


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

Some possible indicators

process indicator:

schools judged higher than satisfactory against Ofsted

ESD good practice guidelines

output indicator:

number of people with qualifications linked strongly to

sustainable development / ESD

outcome indicator:

performance in surveys of understanding of sustainable

development


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

Developing ESD: what role for indicators?

William Scott

Centre for Research in Education and the Environment

University of Bath

[email protected]

www.bath.ac.uk/cree


Developing esd what role for indicators william scott

Your Task:

In a context that makes sense to you, generate one

indicator that you think could be used as an effective

measure of whether an ESD programme is building

our capacity to live sustainably.


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