Environmental Education

Why Should I Care? Exploring the Use of Environmental Concern as a Frame of Communication in Zoos - The Journal of Environmental Education

Yocco, V.S., Bruskotter, J., Wilson, R., & Heimlich, J.E. (2015)


Effectively communicating environmental issues to motivate visitors’ behavior is critical for zoos to accomplish their missions. We examined the relationship between zoo visitors’ environmental concern and agreement with messages framed by environmental concern. Findings from two zoos (N = 298; N = 400), using two message formats, provided nearly identical results suggesting visitors have high levels of biospheric concern and, in general, agree more with statements framed by biospheric concern. Biospheric messages are likely to be more useful for evoking environmental concern and related conservation behaviors among zoo visitors. Zoos should consider technology such as smartphone applications to deliver targeted environmental concern framed messages to onsite visitors. More research is needed to determine preferred frames of communication away from zoo grounds.

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International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education

Heimlich, J.E., Mony, P., Yocco, V.S. (2014)

Chapter 27: Belief to Behavior: A Vital Link

The authors note that we all hold beliefs about the environment and specific environmental issues. Researching beliefs, then, is important but very difficult because they "exist in the complex realities of an individual's life." Research into attitudes and beliefs has been central to environmental education for decades. Over the years, a number of instruments have been devised to measure people's opinions about a range of topics. This type of research has its critics as is pointed out in the first two chapters of this section. What Heimlich et al. do is to show how research in this area has developed and how researchers have addressed the complexity of the issues involved. The shift toward seeing learners and learning as individual and personal identified in Lundholm et al.'s chapter finds an echo in the writing of Heimlich and his coauthors when they write: "Thus, some researchers believe that understanding concern, caring, empathy, or stewardship may reveal the affect support and belief systems that can be actuated within individuals."