CE  Vol.9 No.3 , March 2018
The Future of Sustainability: A Participant Motivation Model for Higher Education, Research, and Practice
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.
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