A study of whale watching visitor's cognitive constructs in relation to a whale watching outreach program : An assessment of past experience, value orientations, awareness of actions, and conceptual knowledge structure Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/jh343x78f

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  • Given the current state of our oceans, the Pew Oceans Commission (1993) has strongly recommended that increased efforts be made towards ocean literacy. Informal education and outreach programs like the Whale Watching Spoken Here program are important contributors to life-long learning. However, there is little research looking at how these programs affect their audiences' knowledge structure, values, beliefs, and activators of behavior, all of which are important precursors to behavior. Since the ultimate goal of these programs is to encourage more environmentally friendly behaviors, an understanding of how these programs affect these cognitive constructs is needed. Based upon several methodological theories, this study looked at the relationship of three precursors to behavior, including visitors' past experiences, value orientations, and their awareness of actions surrounding the marine environment. It further looked at the influence the docent of the outreach program had on visitors' beliefs and conceptual knowledge structure. Lastly, it developed a concept mapping tool that could be used to analyze the conceptual structures of visitors in an informal marine education program. Results revealed that docents of the program did influence people's beliefs and conceptual knowledge structure, and that there was a positive relationship between visitor's past experiences and their value orientations, and a positive relationship between their value orientations and awareness of their actions on the marine environment. The study also revealed what parts of visitors conceptual knowledge structure changed as a result of participation in the program.
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