Meaning-making in higher education for sustainable development: Undergraduates’ long-term processes of experiencing and learning

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


Despite the increase in teaching approaches designed to integrate sustainability into higher education, the connection between students’ learning experiences and their learning outcomes remains incompletely understood. The present multi-case study complements the discussion by investigating undergraduates’ long-term meaning-making processes using the theoretical lens of significant learning and process analysis of students’ learning experience. Based on in-depth narrative interviews with ten students at the end of a three-year study program, we analyzed how and why learning experiences become significant, thereby differentiating perceived personal impact and the subjective value assigned to these experiences. We identified three types of sustainability-related meaning-making processes, which range from ‘no sustainability-related meaning-making’ to ‘meaning-making as self-realization’. The differentiated view on how meaning-making mediates students’ sustainability-related learning experiences and their learning outcomes enhances our understanding of the specific dynamics that may shape the how and why of significant learning. It thus supports tailored curriculum design for integrating sustainability into higher education.
ZeitschriftEnvironmental Education Research
Seiten (von - bis)1616-1634
Anzahl der Seiten19
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 10.10.2022

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
The first author gratefully acknowledges funding from the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research through a Writing-Up Fellowship while preparing this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.