International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) (7th : 2015)

Dynamic perception of sustainability in engineering students in a Mexican public higher education institution Juárez-Nájera, Margarita; De la Riva, Gustavo A.; Hernández-Navarro, Efrén M.; Espinosa-Fajardo, Cristina C. Jun 30, 2015

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DYNAMIC PERCEPTION OF SUSTAINABILITY IN ENGINEERING STUDENTS IN A MEXICAN PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTION Margarita Juárez-Nájera1, 5, Gustavo A. De la Riva2, 3, Efrén M. Hernández-Navarro2, and Cristina C. Espinosa-Fajardo4  1 Professor of Metropolitan Autonomous University-Azcapotzalco. Basic Sciences and Engineering Division, Department of Energy. Av. San Pablo 180, 02200 México, D.F., México. 2 Professor of Biology Department, Irapuato Institute of Technology, Carretera Irapuato-Silao Km. 12.5, El Copal, Irapuato, Guanajuato, México.  3 Professor at School of Education and Human Development, La Salle University, Campestre Campus, Av. Universidad, León, Guanajuato, México.  4 Professor of CECYTEG Plantel Irapuato 3, Carretera Irapuato-Silao Km. 12.5, El Copal, 36821Irapuato, Guanajuato, México.  5 mjn@correo.azc.uam.mx Abstract: Education for sustainable development leads the generation of a new culture among engineers and general specialists. We need a change in the cultural conception representing engineering studies. This change is more than a simple extension of the profession; it requires a new academic and professional culture. Education for sustainability leads to reeducation based on previously acquired knowledge. Education for sustainable development cannot be focused solely on formal activities, scheduled in the curriculum, especially limited to the classroom or to be subject of one professor. Education in this field involves leaving the purely ecological paradigm to develop skills that enable students to master a new way of being and learning to live together in connection with nature.  In general in higher educational institutions students are coming from different educational subsystems with different levels of understanding of sustainable development issues. The aim of this study is to track what changes are generated in the perception of sustainability in engineering students to be taught a subject in Sustainable Development.  Prior to starting such a course it was applied to 31 engineering students a 59-item questionnaire to determine the perception associated with sustainability in relation to underlying values, awareness of ecological consequences of acts, ascription of responsibility as an individual and as a member of a community; as well as interpersonal and intrapersonal skills in making specific decisions. These students were involved in different types of sustainable development and human development projects during the 2012-summer semester to reorient their perception of sustainability. After the exit questionnaire, results showed dispersion in criteria regarding students’ perception on sustainability. However, we notice that perception resizing occurred based on new knowledge, a greater appreciation of students´ role in the environment and interest in a healthier lifestyle. Outcomes show didactic recommendations on how it could be implemented the subject and make changes in institutional life to let sustainability be a value inherent in social and professional responsibility that reinterprets the concept of freedom as a philosophical category.   EESD’15    The 7th International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development Vancouver, Canada, June 9 to 12, 2015  007-1 1 INTRODUCTION The 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (UNEP, 2002) reaffirmed the importance of sustainable development as a basis for overcoming poverty and improving quality of life worldwide, especially in the so-called “developing” World. As a follow-up to ´Johannesburg´, in December 2002, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution “Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD)”. The resolution was ratified by the UNESCO in April 2003 and launched in 2005. The DESD resolution (UNESCO, 2005) is based on chapter 36 of Agenda 21, emphasizing that education for all is a vital condition for sustainable development. The crucial message of the ´Decade´ to the world is that “education is the primary agent of transformation toward sustainable development”. Education has the capability of increasing people’s capacity to transform their visions for society into reality. Education not only provides scientific and technical skills, but also provides the motivation, justification, and social support for pursuing and applying these skills (Juárez-Nájera et al, 2006; Juárez-Nájera et al 2010). Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is about values (UNESCO, 2005), with fundamental pillar being consideration and respect for others, including present and future generations, respect for cultural and social differences and diversity, for the environment, and for planetary resources. Education enables us to understand ourselves and others and our relations with the wider natural and social environment (Benavides, 1998), and this understanding serves as a durable basis for building respect.   Table 1 shows ESD principles and characteristics. ESD is based on a holistic vision and is an interdisciplinary, values driven, critical thinking approach focused on problem solving in local, participatory decision-making, taking advantage of pedagogical, recreational, and artistic methods.  Table 1: Principles of Education for Sustainable Development (adapted from UNESCO 2005, 2012) PRINCIPLE CHARACTERISTICS Interdisciplinary and based on systems thinking Learning for sustainable development embedded in the whole curriculum, research, outreach and management campus programs, not as a separate subject. Values-driven ESD shares the values and principles underpinning sustainable development. Critical thinking and problem solving  Leading to confidence in addressing the dilemmas and challenges of sustainable development. Multi-methods Art, debate, drama, playful experiences, different pedagogies, etc., which model the learning process.  Participatory decisión-making Learners participate in decisions on how they are to learn. Locally relevant, effective and contextual Addressing local as well as global issues, and using the languages which learners most commonly use.  ESD is an important activity in generating a new culture among engineers and general specialists. A change in the cultural conception representing the study of engineering is necessary; also this change must be seen beyond a simple extension of the profession, it requires a new academic and professional culture (Godfrey and Parker, 2010). Regularly in institutions of higher education undergraduates students from different educational subsystems with different level of understanding of sustainable development problems are received. Education for sustainability leads to a re-education and reprogramming based on prior knowledge acquired. ESD cannot be focused solely on formal activities scheduled in the curriculum, especially limited to the classroom or to be a matter of a teacher. Education in this field involves leaving the purely ecological paradigm to develop skills that enable students to master a new way of being, learning to live together in communion with nature (Juárez-Nájera, 2010). The aim of this study is to determine what changes were made in the perception of sustainability in engineering students to be taught the Sustainable Development course based on the principles mentioned in Table 1. 2 METHOD AND ANALYSIS Description of participants: The sample consisted of 31 students from the Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Irapuato (ITESI). Students come from the mechatronics engineering. Participants completed 007-2 in 15 minutes a questionnaire prior to the start of the Sustainable Development course to evaluate their perception of sustainability. The average age of student reached 21 years (with a range of 20 to 23 years). 1 (3%) of the participants was female and 30 (97%) were males. The 90% of students, families earn middle incomes and the rest of the students’ families earn low incomes (10%). 13% of participants lives in apartments and 87% in townhouses. Concerning religion the majority, 87%, declared their self as Roman Catholic, 3% Protestants and 10% claimed to be atheist.   Measurement of sustainable behavior: Table 2 shows the descriptive statistics of ITESI students´ answers to 59 items asked to inquire about sustainable behavior. Descriptive statistics include the minimum and maximum value and the mean and standard deviation of such answers. The 59 items were sorted into four sections as they were asked students, namely: (1) universal values according to Schwartz (2004), (2) awareness of consequences and (3) ascription of responsibility, both assigned by Stern et al. (1999) model, and (4) interpersonal and intrapersonal skills defined in the theory of multiple intelligences by Howard Gardner (2001).  Table 2: Descriptive statistics of engineering students´ answers (N=31) LATENT VARIABLES/ factors Min. Max. Diagnostic Test Final Test Media St. deviation σ n-1 Media St. deviation σ n-1 I.UNIVERSAL VALUES       1.1 World at peace 1 5 1.74 0.96 1.05 0.23 1.2 Influential 1 5 4.10 1.08 4.47 0.56 1.3 Ambitious 1 5 3.26 1.21 2.53 0.79 1.4 Broadminded, open-minded 1 5 1.65 0.98 1.00 0.00 1.5 Authority 1 5 3.32 1.14 3.42 0.79 1.6 Creativity 1 5 1.52 0.77 1.00 0.00 1.7 Social power. 1 5 2.61 1.12 3.82 0.83 1.8 Social order. 1 5 1.65 0.98 1.29 0.46 1.9 Prevention 1 5 1.58 0.96 1.00 0.00 1.10 Varied life, plenty in emotions, challenges and chances 1 5 4.39 1.05 5.00 0.00 1.11 Social Justice 1 5 2.13 1.09 1.03 0.16 1.12 Enjoying life 1 5 4.42 1.23 4.74 0.45 1.13 Self-discipline. 1 5 2.00 1.06 1.18 0.39 1.14 Unity with nature 1 5 2.13 0.99 1.00 0.00 1.15 Wealth 1 5 1.48 0.72 1.00 0.00 1.16 Responsive to the nature and society 1 5 1.55 0.85 1.11 0.31 1.17 Respectful to earth harmony with wildlife 1 5 1.74 0.89 1.00 0.00 1.18 Moderate 1 5 1.97 0.80 1.76 0.43 1.19 Equality with all 1 5 1.52 0.89 1.63 0.49 1.20 Accepting life as it comes 1 5 2.39 1.36 4.92 0.27 II. AWARENESS OF CONSEQUENCES       2.1a Do you believe that climate change will be a problem to you and your family? 1 3 1.32 0.79 1.03 0.16 2.1b Do you believe that climate change will be a problem for the whole country? 1 3 1.13 0.34 1.00 0.00 2.1c Do you believe that climate change will be a problem for other animal and plant species?  1 3 1.13 0.34 1.00 0.00 2.2a Consider you that the tropical rain fall forest will be problem for you and your 1 3 1.03 0.18 1.00 0.00 007-3 LATENT VARIABLES/ factors Min. Max. Diagnostic Test Final Test Media St. deviation σ n-1 Media St. deviation σ n-1 family? 2.2b Consider you that the tropical rain fall forest will be problem for to the whole country? 1 3 1.39 0.50 1.00 0.00 2.2c Consider you that the tropical rain fall forest will be problem for other plant and animal species? 1 3 1.29 0.46 1.00 0.00 2.3a Do you believe that toxics in air water and soil will be a problem for you and your family? 1 3 1.10 0.30 1.00 0.00 2.3b Do you believe that toxics in air water and soil will be a problem for the whole country? 1 3 1.10 0.30 1.00 0.00 2.3c Do you believe that toxics in air water and soil will be a problem for other species of plants and animals? 1 3 1.06 0.25 1.00 0.00 III. ASCRIPTION OF RESPONSABILITY       3.1 Should the Government take strong actions to clean up environment from toxics? 1 5 1.32 0.48 1.03 0.16 3.2 I feel  a personal  obligation to make all the possible to prevent the climate change 1 5 1.74 0.77 1.03 0.16 3.3 I feel a personal obligation to make all the possible to prevent the discharge of toxics to air, water and soil. 1 5 2.19 1.11 1.03 0.16 3.4 The private investment and industry must to reduce the toxics discharge to prevent the climate change.  1 5 1.45 0.72 1.00 0.00 3.5 The Government must put pressure in the nation to preserve rain fall forest 1 5 1.32 0.54 1.00 0.00 3.6 The Government must take strong action to reduce toxic emissions and to prevent global climate change. 1 5 1.52 0.63 1.00 0.00 3.7 The companies that import products from tropical regions have responsibility to prevent forest destruction in those countries 1 5 1.65 0.91 1.82 0.51 3.8 People like me must take the necessary actions to prevent the tropical rain forest lost 1 5 1.94 0.81 1.03 0.16 3.9 The chemical industry must to clean up the toxic discharged to the environment. 1 5 1.87 1.98 1.00 0.00 IV. PERSONAL INTELLIGENCES       4.1 Anticipates obstacles? 1 5 3.48 0.89 3.24 0.43 4.2. Adapt ideas based on new information? 1 5 3.77 0.96 4.11 0.39 4.3 Do you require the contributions of others? 1 5 3.65 0.88 3.97 0.37 4.4 Do you take calculated risks to achieve a goal? 1 5 3.87 0.85 3.16 0.37 4.5 Do you relate well with people from different backgrounds? 1 5 4.16 0.90 4.32 0.47 4.6 Do you stay compose and optimist even in stressful situations? 1 5 3.87 0.99 3.95 0.32 007-4 LATENT VARIABLES/ factors Min. Max. Diagnostic Test Final Test Media St. deviation σ n-1 Media St. deviation σ n-1 4.7 Do you led by example? 1 5 3.58 1.06 3.82 0.46 4.8 ¿Advocates for change despite the opposition? 1 5 3.58 0.85 4.66 0.48 4.9 Do you act impulsively? 1 5 2.32 1.17 1.76 0.43 4.10 Personally leads change initiatives? 1 5 3.10 0.87 3.18 0.65 4.11 Do you keep your promises? 1 5 4.29 0.69 4.08 0.49 4.12 Acknowledge your mistakes? 1 5 4.13 0.99 4.26 0.45 4.13 Articulate  compelling vision? 1 5 3.65 0.66 4.47 0.56 4.14 You can see things from the perspective of others? 1 5 3.87 0.85 4.08 0.27 4.15 Believes capable to do your job? 1 5 4.42 0.72 4.87 0.34 4.16 Bends rules when necessary? 1 5 2.90 1.22 2.05 0.40 4.17 Do you have doubts about your own ability? 1 5 2.29 1.40 1.11 0.31 4.18 Establish and maintain close relationships at work? 1 5 3.94 0.73 4.71 0.46 4.19 Hesitation to act on opportunities? 1 5 2.68 1.08 1.58 0.55 4.20 Changes the strategy, objectives and general projects to suit the situation? 1 5 3.55 0.77 3.95 0.51 σ n-1 = standard deviation   Evaluation of sustainability perception: 31 students were involved in different types of sustainable development and human development projects during the 2012-summer semester to reorient their perception of sustainability. Regarding the analysis of minimum/maximum values and mean values, the universal value section has a minimum value of 1 which means strongly agree to such items and a maximum value of 5 which means strongly disagree to such items. 15 variables (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 1.10, 1.11, 1.12, 1.13, 1.14, 1.19 and 1.20) have values around 2 which means students are somewhat agree with those items. Only three of them (items 1.12, 1.10 and 1.2) have on average more than 4 which means that students somewhat disagree with these variables (enjoying life, varied life, and to be influential).   Section 2, awareness of consequences (items 2.1 to 2.3c) and section 3, ascription of responsibility (items 3.1-3.9), show values on average 1 or 2 which means that students consider those environmental problems (climate change, lost of tropical forest, and toxic substances) as very serious and strongly agree with the kind of obligation to accept either by themselves or government/businesses.  Finally, personal intelligences section 4 has mean values on average of 4 in almost all variables (4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7, 4.8, 4.10, 4.11, 4.12, 4.13, 4.14, 4.15, 4.18 y 4.20) which means that students do often these actions; except for four variables (4.9, 4.16, 4.17, y 4.19) which means they do rarely these actions (get impatient, bend rules, doubt own ability, and hesitate to act). In all cases, standard deviation values are greater in the diagnostic test than in the final test which means less variability in sustainability perception after students take the Sustainable Development course. 3 CONCLUDING REMARKS The results present that students´ answers show dispersion in criteria regarding the perception of sustainability based on purely ecological field, clean technologies, or global warming. The factors that most affect to encourage sustainable behavior were interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, awareness of negative environmental consequences, interest in personal development, and universal values. 007-5 References Benavides, L. G. 1998. Hacia Nuevos Paradigmas en Educación [Toward new paradigms in Education]. CIPAE, México. Godfrey, E., Parker, L. 2010. Mapping the cultural Landscape in engineering education. Journal of Engineering Education 99(1), 5-22.  Gardner, H. 2001. Estructuras de la Mente. La teoría de las inteligencias múltiples [Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences]. 2ª. Ed., Fondo de Cultura Económica, México. Juárez-Nájera M., Dieleman H., Turpin-Marion, S. 2006. Sustainability in Mexican Higher Education, towards a new academic and professional culture. Journal of Cleaner Production 14, 1028-1038. Juárez-Nájera M., Rivera-Martínez, J.G., Hafkamp, W.A. 2010. An explorative socio-psychological model for determining sustainable behavior: pilot study in German and Mexican University. Journal of Cleaner Production 18, 686-694.  Schwartz, S. H. and Boehnke, K., 2004. Evaluating the structure of human values with confirmatory factor analysis. Journal of Research in Personality, 38, 230-255.  Stern P. C., Dietz T., Abel T., Guagnano G. A., Kalof L. 1999. “A Value-Belief-Norm Theory of Support for Social Movements: The case of environmentalism”. Human Ecology Review, Vol. 6 (2), 81-97.  UNEP. 2002. WSSD (World Summit for Sustainable Development), Plan of Implementation.  Obtenido el 6 de Agosto, 2006 desde dirección: http://www.unesco.org/education/wssd  UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), 2005. Report by the Director-General on the United Nations of Education for Sustainable Development: Draft International Implementation Scheme and UNESCO´S contribution to the implementation of the Decade (2005-2014). Hundred and seventy-second session. Paris: UNESCO August 2005. Available at: http://www.unesco.org/education/desd [Accessed 20 August 2014].  UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), 2012. Shaping the Education of Tomorrow: 2012 Full-length Report on the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. DESD Monitoring & Evaluation. Paris: UNESCO Education Sector.    007-6 

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