Cultivating Geographical Thinking: A Framework for Student-Led Research on Food Waste

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Review of International Geographical Education Online

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Research has consistently demonstrated the wide-ranging benefits of student-led research, from increased student engagement to higher retention and graduation rates. Despite these calls to increase research opportunities for students, however, the availability of practical, easy-to-implement research frameworks in disciplinary-specific settings remains limited. For geographers, in particular, student-led research provides an opportunity for students to engage in the craft of geography, learning how to solve spatial problems in a real-world context. This paper presents a practical guide to working with students to develop and analyze a case study on food preferences and food waste. The subject of food waste provides an accessible framework for analyzing a range of geographic issues, from culture to globalization to industry. Specifically, this paper builds on the methodology utilized by a team of undergraduate researchers who examined the issue of food waste using both quantitative and qualitative techniques and adapts this project so it could be used in a variety of classroom settings. Student-led research can and should be expanded in geography, offering students a deeper understanding of spatial problem solving and a better understanding of geography as a discipline.


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Review of International Geographical Education (RIGEO) is an open access, quick, free of charge and a double-blind review publication in geography education, social studies education and related disciplines.