Stacey Jones (Department of Economics, Seattle University), Kristi Lee (Department of Education, Seattle University), Jen Tilghman-Havens (Center for Jesuit Education, Seattle University, Michael Saito (Albers School of Business and Economics)
To “Taste Internally”: Ignatian Pedagogy at the Farmers Market
Using qualitative data drawn from over 300 student reflections, we explore the impact of participation in an innovative community research project on student learning of statistics. In Ignatian pedagogy, learning involves the whole person: to experience the subject matter is to “taste it internally” not only with the intellect, but also with the emotions and the senses. Community research projects enable students to experience a subject matter more deeply through the experience of applying subject-matter concepts to a research question that matters to the larger community. From 2007 to the present, undergraduate students in an introductory business statistics course have worked with our city’s largest farmers market organization to conduct research on the local food system. The students carry out a study that compares the price and provenance of produce sold in farmers markets to that sold in in nearby grocery stores and food cooperatives. The design of the community research project is informed by principles of the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm: context, experience, reflection, action and evaluation. Context for the project is provided in part through a class visit from the manager of the local farmers market association, who speaks to the class about sustainability, the local food system and the role of farmers markets in farmland conservation. The student experience of the project is intensely hands-on, involving data collection, analysis, and the presentation of results to the larger community. Written reflection takes place after the students have completed and presented the project. Preliminary analysis of student reflections suggests that participation in the project enhances student learning of statistics concepts by providing a real-life application of statistical concepts. The project also provides students who struggle with tests and quizzes an alternative medium to build and demonstrate their competence. Finally, the project demonstrates to students that business and statistics concepts play an important role in working toward a more sustainable community.