Naturmöten och källsortering – En kvantitativ studie om lärande för hållbar utveckling i förskolan

Ärlemalm-Hagsér, E. & Sundberg, B.
Nordina 12(2), 140-156.


The purpose of this study is to examine how preschool teachers understand children's learning about sustainable development and environmental issues as well as to gain an overview of the educational work taking place in relation to these concepts. Moreover, the study aims to elucidate whether receiving support for sustainable development work affects the educational practice.


The study shows that the preschools' work on sustainability and environmental issues primarily takes place as nature and environment education, in which children are socialised to assume responsibility for their own impact on the environment. The preschool staff primarily associate learning about sustainable development and environmental issues with nature experiences, reuse and recycling of resources. Moreover, the word "future" occurs as a frequent association with sustainable development. The authors link these associations to a normative environmental education tradition, where focus is on learning about proactive environmental behaviour and the individual's possibilities to protect the environment. The authors also find aspects of so-called fact-based teaching tradition, where focus is on learning about nature and the environment.

The understanding of sustainability as a primarily ecological matter about nature and resource issues also seems to be reflected in the activities offered in the preschools. Thus activities such as play with nature and recycling materials as well as nature meetings are most frequent. Most preschools indicate that they have environments and resources available that support such practice.

Descriptions of economic and social aspects of sustainability only rarely occur, and associations with a more pluralistic teaching tradition, where different views of sustainability are mentioned and critical thinking is emphasised are more or less missing from the data material. A broader understanding of the concept of sustainability is primarily seen among preschools that have received support in the form of environmental certification. The certified preschools often work with environment-related activities and carry out projects that relate to the surrounding community as well as social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. Thus the study indicates that support structures can make a difference for how to interpret the concept of sustainability and then put it into practice.


The study is part of an international comparative study, in which researchers from Australia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Norway and Sweden took part. This study only reports results from the Swedish part of the study, which builds on questionnaires completed by preschool leaders (förskolechefer), preschool teachers (förskollärare) and preschool assistants (barnskötare). The authors distributed questionnaires to a total of 187 preschools, 96 of which completed the questionnaire. The responses form the basis for the statistical analysis.


Ärlemalm-Hagsér, E. & Sundberg, B. (2016). Naturmöten och källsortering – En kvantitativ studie om lärande för hållbar utveckling i förskolan. Nordina 12(2), 140-156.

Financed by

The Adlerbert Research Foundation, Örebro University and Mälardalens University.