Learning to spend time in unusual times: An inquiry into the potential for sustainability learning during COVID-19-induced school closures

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


While current research on school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic is predominantly concerned with learning deficits, the exploratory study presented here focuses on the previously neglected question of young people’s concrete learning experiences during this disruptive period, with a focus on how they used their time and how this relates to their individual needs. The authors interviewed German secondary school students via Zoom and used a grounded theory approach and a transformative learning theory framework to derive recommendations for environmental and sustainability education (ESE). Their findings highlight two important insights: first, that the predominant focus on academic learning loss obscures a more comprehensive understanding of students’ learning experiences; and second, that real-world experiments such as the involuntary school closures during the pandemic may hold the potential to start meaningful, transformative learning processes and experimentation with new strategies for needs satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Education
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)823-849
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 01.12.2023

Bibliographical note

Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. Research and writing were conducted as part of the project Time Rebound, Time Wealth and Sustainable Consumption (ReZeitKon), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under grant number 01UT1708C.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).