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Brown, S., Doganca Kucuk, Zerrin & Rickard, A. (2023). The role of teacher agency in using GIS to teach sustainability: an evaluation of a lower secondary school story mapping GIS initiative in Ireland. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education.


This paper investigates the role of teacher agency for those who were trained in using an innovative Geographic Information Systems (GIS) approach and incorporated GIS into their teaching. While national curricula increasingly emphasise STEM and sustainability approaches, there has been limited analysis of how teachers can bring new software, including GIS, and new approaches into the classroom. Through an evaluation of a teaching initiative “5*S: Space, Surveyors and Students – STEM and the Sustainable Development Goals” designed to bring GIS technology, satellite data, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into classrooms as activities and resources for teachers and students in Ireland, we examine how teachers can introduce new teaching strategies and platforms into their classrooms. In interviews and a focus group, teachers expressed eagerness for GIS teaching resources for the classroom and identified effective ways they were able to draw on their own teaching philosophy in introducing new concepts around sustainability and STEM education in the classroom. We argue that teacher agency and autonomy play an important role in the ability and development of teachers, departments, and schools to bring new approaches and GIS into the classroom, and we identify key learnings from teachers who were able to utilise the 5*S resources.



Science Foundation Ireland and ESERO Ireland under Grant number 19/DP/7171.

Available for download on Tuesday, February 25, 2025