Sustainability Competencies Tool

What is it about?

The Sustainability Competencies Tool is a tool to make individual competencies for sustainable development visible and to give support to further development.

It assumes a holistic understanding of competence that includes values, knowledge and the ability to implement. The aim of the tool is to initiate reflection and dialogue processes on one`s own competencies and to motivate to develop the potentials further.

It can be used as support for self-evaluation as well as for feedback processes in peer-groups, with coaches or teachers. Above all, the tool is used by students in the context of sustainability-oriented teaching events, but can also be transferred to sustainability-oriented companies and non-profit organizations in a modified form.

The five fields of sustainability competencies serve as a guiding frame and are divided into five sub-competencies. Students should reflect upon each sub-competence and figure out, what it means in the context of the course.

For each sub-competence impulse questions are available which help to reflect upon the own competence development.

The tool proposes three components of competencies:

  • importance,
  • knowledge and
  • application

Students should evaluate each component on a scale from 0-3, bearing in mind that the self-assessment reflects their individual perception. The assessment-process can be guided through questions like:

  • How important is the sub-competence from my perspective? Is it in line with my prioritized values?
  • How do I assess my understanding and knowledge in the indicated field?
  • Do I apply the knowledge in practice? Which practical experiences have I gained?

As a result of the evaluation, a numeric value is shown for each sub-competence and for the competence field in total, that allows several conclusions. Therefore step 3 is crucial, where students give a qualitative interpretation/justification of the results and deduce options for their own qualification path. The quantitative results can also be verified in dialogues with peers or teachers and thus deepen the reflection-process.

In this context, deviations within the three components of competencies are of particular interest. For instance, if importance is high-rated, knowledge and practical experience however low-rated, it could have implications on personal development but on development of curricula as well.

Depending on the course’s objective and relevance of reflection- and feedback processes, the results of the self-assessment can be compared with different values:

  • Maximum: Every sub-competence has a maximum to reach, what means the expert status.
  • Results of previous assessments: the comparison with earlier assessments (for example, at the beginning of a course) shows the individual development of competencies.
  • Results of external evaluations: the comparison with the result of peer or teacher assessments supports the verification of the self-perception.

If comparative values are used, it is of particular importance to ensure that they are well embedded in a constructive dialogue and feedback setting.

The values, generated out of the assessment are graphically displayed in a line chart, which provides a quick overview of strengths, weaknesses and development potentials. If comparison values are used, they are displayed in a corresponding line chart.

The three components of competencies are indicated through three different colors, as the graphic below shows.


  • Self-evaluation
  • External evaluation
  • Pre-post comparison
  • Graphical visualization