2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM


SEMKEN, Steven, Department of Geological Sciences, Arizona State Univ, POB 871404, Tempe, AZ 85287-1404 and PIBURN, Michael D., Secondary Education, Arizona State Univ, Tempe, AZ 85287, semken@asu.edu

Places are geospatial localities imbued with meaning by human experience, and sense of place is the set of meanings of and attachments to places held by individuals or groups. Place-based teaching, in which the physical (e.g., geological) attributes of the local environment and the cultural meanings of places infuse content and pedagogy, and in which students work and learn in the field or community, is thought to enhance student interest and learning in natural science. This may be particularly true for American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Hispanic, and other student populations with deep multi-generational cultural ties to particular places and regions. Place-based geoscience teaching could potentially enhance geoscience literacy and recruitment into the profession among these historically underrepresented groups. However, this hypothesis has yet to be thoroughly investigated and tested, particularly at the undergraduate level. The first step is the comparative measurement of sense of place among diverse student populations in different educational settings. Place attachment can be measured empirically by means of psychometric surveys, and meanings of places can be investigated descriptively by means of interviews and focus groups. Sense-of-place studies now underway in geology and science education classes at ASU and collaborating institutions provide illustrative examples.