Faculty Publications


Contextualizing powerful geographic knowledge in higher education: Data-driven curriculum design to interweave student aspirations with workforce applications

Document Type



Capabilities, culturally relevant pedagogy, powerful knowledge, student affect, widening participation

Journal/Book/Conference Title

International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education


This article describes a data-driven approach to contextualize geography subject matter using student aspirations and workforce data. To test this teaching strategy, undergraduate students in two world geography courses taught at Texas State University were surveyed and interviewed about their career and life aspirations. Using this information, the course instructor selected relevant geography resources and applications using workforce data obtained from a sample of geographers employed in private and public sectors. Over the semester, students encountered those applications through class presentations, videos, and individual advising sessions. At the end, students completed a post-test survey. Resulting datasets offered the instructor a means to reflect upon and select geographic content that is accessible and applicable to what students aspire to be and do in the future. Analysis of the pre- and post-test survey data indicate positive gains in student attitudes but suggest additional culturally relevant pedagogical enhancements are needed to account for student diversity and context. The article concludes with a critical assessment of how future instructors might leverage aspirations and workforce data to address the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the discipline and workforce.


Department of Geography

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version



UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa