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Exploring Whitewater Rafting Guides’ Values of Learning and Teaching

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Engineering Engagement with Community

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Noa Bruhis


Micah Lande Arizona State University

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Micah Lande, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering programs and Tooker Professor at the Polytechnic School in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches human-centered engineering design, design thinking, and design innovation project courses. Dr. Lande researches how technical and non-technical people learn and apply design thinking and making processes to their work. He is interested in the intersection of designerly epistemic identities and vocational pathways. Dr. Lande received his B.S in Engineering (Product Design), M.A. in Education (Learning, Design and Technology) and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (Design Education) from Stanford University.

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In considering public participation in STEM topics, we focus on the guided “nature-based tourism” activities of whitewater rafting and its impact on the future environmentally conscious behaviors of activity participants. The role of rafting guides’ in curating a contextualized environmental outing experience is examined as well as their perceptions of their place in communicating ecological knowledge. Rafting guides are usually non-credentialed but passionate and intrinsically motivated to share their worldview and considerable experience. They have a place as citizen scientists sharing or brokering knowledge with interested participants during their outdoor activities. It is a unique way to conceptualize lifelong learning for people arguably receptive to learning in primed and structured learning situation.

Nature-based tourism does seem to play a role in increasing both the general environmental knowledge and the environment-related behavioral intentions and motivations of tourists, such as * personal choices in consumption, use, and disposal of consumer products; * social actions in policy advocacy, activism, and support; and * actions related directly to the tourist site (Ardoin et al., 2015).

Present research focuses specifically on whitewater rafting guides within the nature-based tourism industry. Prior work has largely centered around evaluating tourists and their behaviors (Powell et al., 2009), but there is a gap in the literature when it comes to more fully understanding the role of these tour leaders as informal teachers.

This study employs phenomenological semi-structured interviews to give voice to the whitewater river guides and leaders of the nature-based tourism industry, seeking their perceptions on how nature-based tourism may be used effectively to influence knowledge and behavioral change in their guests, and how nature-based tourism has affected their own knowledge and behaviors. This pilot study is scoped to whitewater rafting guides based out of [area], California.


1. Ardoin, N.M., Wheaton, M., Bowers, A.W., Hunt, C. A., & Durham, W.H. (2015). Nature-based tourism’s impact on environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behavior: A review and analysis of the literature and potential future research. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 23(6), 838-858.

2. Powell, R.B., Kellert, S.R., & Ham, S.H. (2009). Interactional theory and the sustainable nature-based tourism experience. Society and Natural Resources, 22(8), 761-776.

Bruhis, N., & Lande, M. (2018, June), Exploring Whitewater Rafting Guides’ Values of Learning and Teaching Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30504

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