Exploring the dimensions of place: a confirmatory factor analysis of data from three ecoregional sites

TitleExploring the dimensions of place: a confirmatory factor analysis of data from three ecoregional sites
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsArdoin, NM, Schuh, JS, Gould, RK
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Pagination583 - 607
Date Published2012/10/01/
ISBN Number1350-4622
Keywordsplace-based education, sense of place, structural equation modeling, typology of place dimensions
AbstractThemes of place, situatedness, and locale are increasingly prominent in environmental education literature and practice. Sense-of-place research, which considers how people connect with places and the influence of those connections on engagement with the environment, may have important implications for environmental education. Prior place studies have proposed that people’s place connections have various dimensions. This paper explores four place dimensions, analyzing data from a survey (n = 712) conducted in three ecoregional sites in which we investigated residents’ sense of place. We examine how our data fit a proposed typology of place dimensions – a four-dimension (biophysical, psychological, sociocultural, and political-economic) categorization based on previous conceptions of the dimensions of place. We use structural equation modeling to question whether a 4-factor conceptualization of the dimensions of sense of place is superior to plausible alternatives. In comparing the four-dimension model with alternative models, we find that the four-dimension model is the best fit for these data. Our findings suggest that environmental and place-based education may benefit from an understanding and consideration of this four-dimension conceptualization of place in program design, implementation, and evaluation.