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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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Sahertian, IH 2002 , 'The role of marine discovery centres in supporting environmental education : case study: Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre, Tasmania', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Sahertian, IH
Keywords: Marine Discovery Centre (Woodbridge, Tas.), Demonstration centers in education, Marine ecology, Ocean, Marine biology, Coastal ecology
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2002 the author

Additional Information:

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

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