Main Article Content
This manuscript stems from observations the authors made while teaching an environmental health course, which is part of a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. Observations of student attitudes and patterns in course feedback prompted questions about how to pique interest in the course. Since research on motivation has shown that adult learners build new knowledge from what they believe they already know, we first sought to better understand this basis for learning. On the first day of class, students were administered an assignment prompting them to "define environment" in their own words; data were analyzed for content. Results characterize student conceptions of environment as being (1) beyond human influence and (2) individually-focused. The implications of these "alternative conceptions" of environmental public health for educators seeking to motivate adult learners are discussed. Restructuring coursework to reflect Transformative Learning Theory (TLT) is identified as a potential solution to student amotivation.