How might participation in primary school eco clubs in England contribute to children's developing action-competence-associated attributes?

  • Elsa Lee

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The literature pertaining to action competence in the field of environmental education (EE), and active citizenship in the field of citizenship education (CE), were reviewed for this research. This review reveals an indeterminate collection of attributes that are associated with both action competence and active citizenship. This research introduces the term action-competence-associated attributes to refer to them. The purpose of this research is to explore how children’s participation in primary school eco clubs might afford opportunities for the development of these attributes. The justifications for this purpose are founded in the literature in the fields of environmental and citizenship education, in current educational policy in England, in practice in primary schools in England and in my personal research interests and philosophical principles.A transactional methodology frames the research, which comprises a multiple case study using participant observation and interviews. The data gathered from the two cases of primary school eco clubs, were subjected to both theory- and data-led thematic analysis. The emergent themes suggest how participation in eco clubs affords opportunities that contribute to the on-going development of children’s action-competence-associated attributes. This research makes three distinct contributions to knowledge. The first concerns the potential for eco clubs to enable primary schools to address the non-statutory framework for CE. A variety of different contextual factors influence how this takes place. The second contribution is the development of an analytical framework from action competence that may be useful for other researchers seeking to use action competence research to interrogate their own data .The third is the application of Biesta’s (2011) concept of the ignorant citizen to the school teachers in this research. The ignorant school teacher, by her/his very ignorance, is shown to influence the development of particular action-competence-associated attributes that might otherwise not be effected.
Date of Award26 Feb 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorElisabeth Barratt Hacking (Supervisor) & Steve Gough (Supervisor)


  • action competence
  • citizenship education
  • critical thinking,
  • eco clubs
  • environmental education
  • education for sustainable development

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