University Of Tasmania
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The role of marine discovery centres in supporting environmental education : case study: Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre, Tasmania

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posted on 2023-05-27, 18:16 authored by Sahertian, IH
This thesis examines the role of coastal and marine environmental education in Tasmania by using Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre (Woodbridge MDC) as a case study. This study hypothesizes that a marine discovery centre is an effective means of promoting marine environmental education. The aims of this thesis are (1) to critically ana!yse the extent to which the Centre promotes marine environmental education in Tasmania; and (2) to determine how effective the Centre is in facilitating environmental education for school students in Tasmania. The features of five marine discovery centres in Australia are described, including Tasmania's Woodbridge MDC. These centres have a similar philosophy: to provide students with experiential learning and simultaneously equip them with marine knowl~dge. However, each Centre has its own program for students and communities based specifically on the local coastal and marine ecosystem types. To find out how effectively marine studies are carried out at Woodbridge MDC, one hundred and five Grades 5 and 6 students were surveyed using a questionnaire. Surveys were conducted using fifty-two students as the Focus group. The same group (the Repeat group) was re-surveyed six weeks after their visit to the Centre. Fifty-three students who had not visited the Centre composed the Control groups. Some additional data were gathered from students at the Centre, through observation, and from teacher and education staff interviews. The survey results differed from those expected from the hypothesis. They showed no significant difference between the Focus and Control groups with regard to their general knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, the coastal and marine environment. It is likely that this is because most Tasmanian students have had prior experience of fishing and activities at the beach, supporting their general knowledge and interest in the coastal and marine environment. However, the Focus groups presented higher scores than the Control groups for specific knowledge about marine life and their characteristics. They were also more motivated to explore the coast as opposed to using the coast as a purely recreational resource. The Focus groups also gained specific knowledge from their visit to Woodbridge MDC and appreciated exploring marine organisms at the Centre. Teachers and education staff gave very positive feedback on the benefits of Woodbridge MDC based on their experience in marine environmental education. This study indicated that students' appreciation, knowledge and environmental behaviour related to coastal and marine environmental education cannot be adequately evaluated through a short-term study based on a single questionnaire survey. However, a visit to the Centre may result in a longer-term benefit. This study could be regarded as a pilot study with the findings interpreted tentatively. A longer term study of students from kindergarten to higher levels is required to more fully assess the effectiveness of the Woodbridge MDC program.


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Copyright 2002 the author Thesis (M.Env.Mgt.)--University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references

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