Mental models high school students hold of zoos

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Patricia Gail Patrick (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Catherine Matthews

Abstract: "The purpose of this study was to depict the mental models high school students, ages 14-18, hold of zoos. This study also examined how students define conservation and the role of zoos in conservation. This study examined the differences in mental models of 84 students 1) 21 students who had visited a zoo with their teacher in the same semester in which the study was conducted 2) 21 students who had visited a zoo during another school year with their teacher 3) 21 students who had visited the zoo without a teacher, and 4) 21 students who had never visited a zoo. It also examined the mental models of students of different ethnicities and examined differences in mental models of young men and women. This study was conducted and the data analyzed using a qualitative methodology research design. All 84 students completed a demographic questionnaire, a concept map, and a ranking concepts exercise. Twenty-four students were interviewed. The findings indicated that: 1) students who had visited a zoo have a richer mental model of zoos than students who have never visited a zoo, 2) students who had visited a zoo with their teacher provided a deeper richer understanding of the roles of zoos in conservation and education, 3) students who have never visited a zoo do have mental models of zoos, 4) students do not mention conservation with respect to zoos unless specifically asked about the role of zoos in conservation, 5) students did not mention the zoo's connection to species survival nor did they view zoos as a source of information for conservation-related topics. The data indicated that the mental models student hold of zoos consist of seven themes: 1) organisms, 2) people, 3) amenities, 4) descriptive terms, 5) habitats, 6) education, and 7) conservation. The seven themes were defined and used to create the Zoo Acuity Model. The central constructs of the Zoo Acuity Model are the Observation Framework, the Interaction Framework, and the Information Framework. Most important to this study is the development of the Information Framework, which described the information students knew about zoos."--Abstract from author supplied metadata.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2006
high school students, mental model, zoos, conservation
Zoos--Educational aspects
Zoo visitors
High school students--United States--Attitudes

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