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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Soo Seng Lee

SUSTAINABILITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL TEACHING MATERIAL DEVELOPMENT FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE: FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS AGED 15 TO 18
Education for sustainable development (ESD) is recognised by the UN as a catalyst in the transition toward a sustainable future. However, sustainable development (SD) as a subject has not been fully integrated into secondary school curricula across the world. The lack of suitable educational materials for secondary education is one of the factors which impedes this process.
The first phase of this research explored pedagogical methods which can be adopted to teach SD in secondary education. SD for secondary school students can be taught via four methods, namely integrating SD topics into the existing syllabus; exploring SD-related collaborative projects with other organisations; creating separated SD courses and activities such as forums, games and seminars; and teaching SD concepts through role model methods. The author selected educational role-play game (RPG) as the game is particularly appropriate for ESD.
The second phase of this research involved the development of an educational RPG. The games aims to impart SD concepts to secondary school students aged 15-18, allow the adolescents to reflect on their behaviours and stimulate their passion in SD subject. The game mainly focuses on world issues by delving deeper into unsustainable practices, such as environmental pollution, the loss of biodiversity and poverty, and exploring solutions for the predicaments. In addition, the research formulates ways based on different learning theories such as constructivism and experiential learning approaches to prepare students for a more challenging world through reflective observation, multidisciplinary active experimentation and collaborative conceptual interpretation. Further, the game also facilitates the interaction of students in ESD, empowers participants as well as enabling students to deal with complicated science, technology and engineering problems in a holistic manner.
Two sessions of a pilot study was conducted to assess the game in meeting its objectives. The assessment of this game was based on the tendency of the game in inspiring students to be sustainability conscious, lessons learned by participants, comprehension of participants in the game, interesting level of the material, time allocated for the material and the quality of the material. The assessment results indicated that the goals of this game have generally been met.
As much as the game benefits adolescents, the game also has some shortcomings. In order to attain the optimum outcomes, teachers should pick up mistakes made by students during the game play so that suitable advice can be given to them accordingly.