Food, Animals, Poverty: The Influence of Stereotypes and Mindfulness on Student Openness to Studying Sustainable Development in Multiple World Regions

Authors: Michelle Brym*, University of Central Oklahoma, Shannon Hall, University of Central Oklahoma
Topics: Geography Education
Keywords: Geography Education, Undergraduate Research, Sustainable Development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study seeks to understand how students’ emotions, preconceived notions of a world region, and mindfulness affect their engagement in the study of sustainable development around the world, and mastery of the concept, in a university geography course. The concept of sustainable development can evoke strong emotional reactions as well as apathy from students. To capture insights into the mindsets of undergraduate students toward cooperative learning, similar to the approach taken by Faith Aydin (2013), students were assigned to groups based on geographical world region, to present their findings. Students completed surveys at the beginning of the course to assess their knowledge and interest in different world regions, as well as their attitudes toward the importance of sustainable development. Upon completion of their group presentations, students were either interviewed by undergraduate student research assistants, or wrote a reflection paper, methods also used by Erin Fouberg (2013) in his research on teaching methods, to identify factors that influenced students’ perceptions toward world regions and sustainable development, ways student stereotypes were challenged, and self-awareness of the role of group work in the learning process. Seventy students from four sections of the Regional Geography of the World course, with a variety of life experiences based on age, gender, and ethnicity, participated in this project. The findings reflect how students, in their research, found examples to reinforce stereotypes they already held about a world region. They also reveal the importance of personal connections on the desire to learn about a place or region.

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