Cognitive and Emotional Evaluation of an Amphibian Conservation Program for Elementary School Students

The Journal of Environmental Education (Impact Factor: 0.65). 10/2005; 37(1). DOI: 10.3200/JOEE.37.1.43-52


The authors describe a study aimed at enhancing knowledge about amphibian species. Two classes of 3rd and 4th graders aged 9-11 years participated in the study. In addition, approximately one half of the students participated in an environmental conservation action designated to preserve migrating amphibians. During this action, students encountered living amphibians. Students who participated in the conservation action performed significantly better on achievement tests, and 4th graders performed better than 3rd graders, even when controlling for prior knowledge as a covariate, which also showed a significant influence. Pupils expressed high interest and well-being and low anger, anxiety, and boredom. Boredom and anxiety correlated negatively with residualized achievement scores. Major implications are that learning about biodiversity should (a) focus on a small number of species, (b) start in primary schools, (c) take place outdoors, and (d) be linked with classroom teaching.

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    • "Reptiles may also rank low in the appreciation of children, although some survey studies suggest the contrary. However, when children have the chance to encounter living animals, for example snakes, or amphibians, they usually rated this experience as high and also rated these animals as interesting (see, e.g.,Ballouard et al., 2013;Randler, Hummel et al., 2012;Randler et al., 2005). This severely questions the value of simple survey studies where students rate different animals based on their memory or their imagination rather than encountering the respective animals in real life. "
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    ABSTRACT: Interventions in out-of-school settings have proven by previous studies to be effective to change students’ science knowledge and motivation with mixed results on whether they are more effective than teaching at school. In this study, we compared an out-of-school-setting in a reptile and amphibian zoo (Landau, Germany) with a sequence of classroom teaching and a control group without teaching on the topic. We compared learning at school (School) and out-of-school learning (Reptilium) which were tested in a randomized field setting with the focus on knowledge and motivation. Sixty-five elementary students participated in either the School group, the Reptilium group or in a control group. We measured achievement knowledge on the topics reptiles and amphibians with a newly developed two-factorial test, calibrated with item response theory, before the intervention, immediately afterwards (posttest) and three weeks later (follow-up). Motivation was measured immediately after the intervention. Data analyses were performed with SPSS and Mplus. We conclude that the two interventions appeared highly superior to the control group and that the out-of-school setting in the Reptilium was more effective than the school-only program. Concerning motivation, perceived choice was higher in the Reptilium than in the School group. There were gender-by-treatment interaction effects for knowledge in posttest and follow-up, for perceived competence, and for pressure/tension. Concerning knowledge, boys performed better in the School group than girls but this gender gap was not significant in the Reptilium group. Boys perceived themselves as more competent in the School group while girls reported less pressure/tension in the Reptilium group. In conclusion, encountering living animals in a formal zoo learning arrangement is encouraged in primary school since it supports self-determination (free choice), leads to higher achievement, and closes gender disparities in achievement.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Research in Science Education
    • "This has typically been done by case studies which measured knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of participants in the EE programmes. Evaluations are seen as an important factor for the longterm success of such programmess (Bogner, 1998; Grumbine, 1994) but have so far been concentrated in Europe and North America (Bogner, 1998; Leeming, Dwyer, Porter, & Cobern, 1993; Randler, Ilg, & Kern, 2005). To our knowledge, there is no publication of a quantitative evaluation of an EE programme in West Africa, only one in Central Africa (Kuhar, Bettinger, Lehnhardt, Cartwright, & Cress, 2011) and only a few for East Africa (Ali, 2002; Johnson-Pynn & Johnson, 2005; Kuhar, Bettinger, Lehnhardt, Townsend, & Cox, 2007; McDuff, 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper surveys the consequences of pupils' participation in the extra-curricular environmental education (EE) programme Club P.A.N. (Peoples, Animals and Nature) by monitoring changes in their respective knowledge as well as in their environmental attitudes. The programme was conducted in Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa with the help of the local teacher's organization Cellule des Projets Environnementaux (CPE). We used multivariate analysis of data collected during two years of the programme (n = 1,244 participants), in nine villages around the Taï National Park, to test if this EE programme could lead to (1) knowledge gain and (2) attitude change, and the influences of (3) grade, sex and prior knowledge. Participation significantly increased environmental knowledge and positively influenced attitudes towards nature. Boys gained more knowledge and changed attitudes more than girls and pupils of the sixth grade profited more from the programme on both measures than the younger pupils of the fifth grade. We discuss how these results influence the programme and how further research should be emphasized.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · International Journal of Science Education
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    • "However, the NSTA also calls for more research in this area in order to objectively determine the effectiveness of real animal dissections. Recent research focused on the importance of emotions on learners' outcomes (Pekrun et al. 2002, Randler et al. 2005) revealed that students who felt disgust of dissection considered themselves as less effective at mastering the dissection (Holstermann et al. 2009, 2012), but students with more experience in dissections reported lower pressure (Randler et al. 2012a) and greater interest toward dissection (Holstermann et al., 2010). Females have obviously less supportive attitudes than males (Lock 1995, Akpan & Andre 1999, Holstermann et al. 2012, Quince et al. 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Animal dissections are essential parts of anatomy/zoology courses, but their effectiveness is influenced by student attitudes and emotions. Here we examined attitudes toward dissections in 397 prospective biology teachers enrolling two Slovak universities. Perceived disgust of dissections negatively correlated with other attitudes toward dissections domains and previous experiences with dissections correlated positively with attitudes toward dissections. Reported experiences with real and virtual dissections in Slovak elementary and high schools were rare. Students who owned animal(s) at home had less positive attitudes toward dissections than non-animal owners. Our research support an idea that prior experiences with dissections and low perceived disgust correlate with positive attitudes toward dissections. Special attention should be dedicated to females and to animal owners, because positive attitudes toward animals may be in conflict with supportive attitudes towards dissections.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education
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