CE  Vol.9 No.3 , March 2018
The Future of Sustainability: A Participant Motivation Model for Higher Education, Research, and Practice
ABSTRACT
Environmental and sustainability education offer meaningful insights and instructive guidance for social-ecological systems. While some of the underlying concepts may be contested and even controversial, we submit that the overarching themes can contribute to healthy, balanced, and resilient individuals, organizations, and communities. Our study investigates student participation in a multidimensional Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program focused on building basic and applied research skill sets anchored in sustainable energy knowledge, and introduces use of a conceptual structure for evaluating outcomes: the Motivation, Core Competency, Research Skills and Sustainability (MCRS) Framework. We focus specifically on student motivation to pursue graduate education and sustainability careers. This is accomplished through an exploratory, multi-strand, case-oriented study, utilizing mixed methods to analyze qualitative and quantitative evaluation data. The literature foundations for the study include undergraduate research experiences and graduate education, learning contexts, and key sustainability education competencies. Findings suggest that the program impacted the desire of participants to attend graduate school and aided in their development of clarity around future sustainability-related career paths. Research concentrates on a group of undergraduates in a STEM-related sustainable energy program as part of an important approach which can be applicable to other programs in differing fields and contexts. Understanding learner motivations with respect to designated competencies and skills is a positive step in creating education systems supportive of equitable and sustainable societies. Expanded use of the MCRS Framework into a logic model for integrated problem solving and evaluating performance outcomes can provide direction for informed planning and decision making toward improved policies, programs, and projects now and into the future.
Cite this paper
Griswold, W. , Saulters, O. and Sanders, A. (2018) The Future of Sustainability: A Participant Motivation Model for Higher Education, Research, and Practice. Creative Education, 9, 406-425. doi: 10.4236/ce.2018.93029.
References
[1]   American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2010). Core Competencies in Sustainability. In Annual Meeting: Bridging Science and Society, Forum for Sustainability Science Programs (pp. 1-18). San Diego, CA: AAAS Workshop Guide.

[2]   Arbuthnott, K. D. (2009). Education for Sustainable Development beyond Attitude Change. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 10, 152-163.
https://doi.org/10.1108/14676370910945954

[3]   Astin, A. W. (1993). What Matters in College? Four Critical Years Revisited. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

[4]   Bledsoe, T., & Baskin, J. J. (2014). Recognizing Student Fear: The Elephant in the Classroom. College Teaching, 62, 32-41.
https://doi.org/10.1080/87567555.2013.831022

[5]   Bowen, W. G., & Rudenstine, N. L. (1992). In Pursuit of the PhD. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[6]   Cayanus, J., & Martin, M. (2008). Teacher Self-Disclosure: Amount, Relevance, and Negativity. Communication Quarterly, 56, 325-341.
https://doi.org/10.1080/01463370802241492

[7]   Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide through Qualitative Analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

[8]   Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education (2009). What Is Education for Sustainability (EfS)?
http://cloudinstitute.org/our-approach/

[9]   Cox, R. D. (2009). The College Fear Factor: How Students and Professors Misunderstand Each Other. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
https://doi.org/10.4159/9780674053663

[10]   Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior. New York, NY: Plenum.
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-2271-7

[11]   Ehrenfeld, J.R. (2008). Sustainability by Design. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

[12]   Erickson, L. E., Griswold, W., Hohn, K., & Saulters, O. S. (2010). Enriching and Evaluating Sustainability Education. Journal of Sustainability Education, 1, 1-20.

[13]   Erickson, L. E., Robinson, J., Brase, G., & Cutsor, J. (2017). Solar Powered Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles: A Sustainable Development. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor and Francis.

[14]   Goldin, E., Erickson, L.E., Natarajan, B., Brase, G., & Pahwa, A. (2014). Solar Powered Charge Stations for Electric Vehicles. Environmental Progress and Sustainable Energy, 33, 1298-1308.

[15]   Gonzalez, C. (2001). Undergraduate Research, Graduate Mentoring, and the University’s Mission. Science, 293, 1624-1626.
https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1062714

[16]   Gregerman, S. R., Lerner, J. S., von Hippel, W., Jonides, J., & Nagda, B. A. (1998). Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Partnerships Affect Student Retention. The Review of Higher Education, 22, 55-72.
https://doi.org/10.1353/rhe.1998.0016

[17]   Hathaway, R. S., Nagda, B. A., & Gregerman, S. R. (2002). The Relationship of Undergraduate Research Participation to Graduate and Professional Education Pursuit: An Empirical Study. Journal of College Student Development, 43, 614-631.

[18]   Hearn, J. C. (1987). Impacts of Undergraduate Experiences on Aspirations and Plans for Graduate and Professional Education. Research in Higher Education, 27, 119-141.
https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00992365

[19]   Hegarty, N. (2010). Application of the Academic Motivation Scale to Graduate School Students. The Journal of Human Resource and Adult Learning, 6, 48-55.

[20]   Hinkle, D. E., Wiersma, W., & Jurs, S. G. (2003). Applied Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

[21]   Incropera, F. P. (2016). Climate Change: A Wicked Problem. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316266274

[22]   Kamil Anil, N., & Eti Icli, G. (2013). MBA Students’ Satisfaction and Loyalty: State vs. Private Universities in Turkey. Trziste/Market, 25, 17-198.

[23]   Khanam, A., Iqbal, S., & Muhammad Khan, A. (2012). Effect of Educators’ Immediacy on Prospective Teachers’ Learning. Journal of Research & Reflections in Education, 6, 137-144.

[24]   Kober, N. (2015). Reaching Students: What Research Says about Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering. Washington DC: Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, The National Academies Press.

[25]   Koseoglu, Y. (2013). Academic Motivation of the First-Year University Students and the Self-Determination Theory. Educational Research and Reviews, 8, 418-424.

[26]   Leve, J., & Wegner, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511815355

[27]   McClelland, D. C. (1967). The Achieving Society. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

[28]   Mertens, D. M., & McLaughlin, J. A. (2004). Research and Evaluations Methods in Special Education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412985666

[29]   National Research Council (2011). Sustainability and the U.S. EPA. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.

[30]   National Science Board (2009). Building a Sustainable Energy Future: U.S. Actions for an Effective Energy Economy Transformation. NSB-09-35.

[31]   Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (1991). How College Affects Students. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

[32]   Robinson, J., Brase, G., Griswold, W., Jackson, C., & Erickson, L. (2014). Business Models for Solar Powered Charging Stations to Develop Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles. Sustainability, 6, 7358-7387.
https://doi.org/10.3390/su6107358

[33]   Ryan, R., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54-67.
https://doi.org/10.1006/ceps.1999.1020

[34]   Sachs, J. D. (2015). The Age of Sustainable Development. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
https://doi.org/10.7312/sach17314

[35]   Seymour, E. (1995a). Revisiting the Problem Iceberg; Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Students Still Chilled Out: Examining the Causes of Student Attrition in Science-Based Fields on a Variety of Campuses. Journal of College Science Teaching, 24, 392-400.

[36]   Seymour, E. (1995b). The Loss of Women from Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Undergraduate Majors: An Explanatory Account. Science Education, 79, 437-473.
https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.3730790406

[37]   Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2009). Foundations of Mixed Methods Research: Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

[38]   The Guardian (2007). Bali Climate Change Conference 2007.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/dec/12/bali.climatechange1

[39]   Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

[40]   Van Soom, C., & Donche, V. (2014). Profiling First-Year Students in STEM Programs Based on Autonomous Motivation and Academic Self-Concept and Relationship with Academic Achievement. PLoS ONE, 9, e112489.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0112489

[41]   Wiek, A., Withycombe, L., & Redman, C. L. (2011). Key Competencies in Sustainability: A Reference Framework for Academic Program Development. Sustainability Science, 6, 203-218.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-011-0132-6

[42]   Zydney, A. L., Bennett, J. S., Shahid, A., & Bauer, K. W. (2002). Impact of Undergraduate Research Experience in Engineering. Journal of Engineering Education, 91, 151-157.
https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2168-9830.2002.tb00687.x

 
 
Top