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Education in ecotourism: Instructional strategies that can promote pro-environmental learning outcomes

Ray, Jackson
Ecotourism is a form of tourism that takes place in natural areas and should benefit both the local social and ecological environment. Additionally, some form of visitor learning is widely accepted as an integral aspect of a true ecotourism experience. During a time in which many environmentally detrimental industries exist, ecotourism is promoted as an environmentally sustainable industry. Though previous research regarding the actual environmental impacts of ecotourism have yielded both positive and negative results, the potential for ecotourism to positively impact our natural environment is undoubted. One way to positively impact the natural world through ecotourism is to use education to promote pro-environmental learning outcomes in participants. Because visitor learning is an essential element in ecotourism, education has been researched extensively within ecotourism contexts. However, specific instructional strategies that can facilitate pro-environmental learning outcomes during ecotourism experiences have not yet been analyzed. This study examines findings from previous literature that identify elements of ecotourism experiences that promote pro-environmental learning and analyzes specific instructional strategies that can facilitate such elements. The instructional strategies analyzed in this paper are metacognition, conceptual change, photo elicitation, and service learning. Several educational and behavioral theoretical frameworks are used in the analysis of these instructional strategies as they relate to ecotourism – Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior, Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle, and the Contextual Model of Learning. Findings will allow ecotourism operators to benefit local environments by using these four instructional strategies to promote pro-environmental learning outcomes in ecotourism participants.
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University of Wyoming. Libraries
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ecotourism,education,instructional strategies,conservation,pro-environmental learning,conceptual change,service learning,metacognition,photo elicitation,free-choice learning
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