Exploring Use of New Media in Environmental Education Contexts: Introducing Visitors’ Technology Use in Zoos Model - Environmental Education Research

Yocco, V.S., Danter, E., Heimlich, J.E., Dunckel, B., & Myers, C. (2011)


Modern zoological gardens have invested substantial resources in technology to deliver environmental education concepts to visitors. Investment in these media reflects a currently unsubstantiated belief that visitors will both use and learn from these media alongside more traditional and less costly displays. This paper proposes a model that identifies key factors theorized to influence the likelihood of visitors engaging in technology-delivered media. Using data from two case studies of large National Science Foundation-funded projects in zoos, the authors argue key factors in predicting visitors’ technology use in zoos include: intrinsic and extrinsic variables (e.g. learning preference and age), perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, attraction to technology, intent to use, initial use, and continued use. Future research examining the model components and their effectiveness for predicting use is needed, as well as research comparing the specific learning outcomes from experiences facilitated by technology with learning outcomes from more traditional interpretive techniques.

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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."

Factors Contributing to Amateur Astronomers’ Involvement in Education and Public Outreach - Astronomy Education Review

Yocco, V.S., Jones, E.C., Storksdieck, M. (2012)


Amateur astronomers play a critical role engaging the general public in astronomy. The role of the individual and club-relate factors is explored using data from two surveys (Survey 1 N = 1143; Survey 2 N = 1242) of amateur astronomers. Analysis suggests that formal or informal training in astronomy, age, club membership, length of club membership, and participation in club service are factors that contribute to the likelihood of an amateur engaging in education and public outreach. Sex (mail or female) and club service were found to influence the level of outreach amateurs engage in. Interventions designed to increase amateur involvement in education and public outreach should consider these factors.

Giant Screen Film and Science Learning in Museums - Museum Management and Curatorship

Fraser, J., Heimlich, J.E., Jacobsen, J., Yocco, V., Sickler, J.......(2012)


The authors review the giant screen (GS) film literature to determine if the form has unique attributes that contribute to science learning. They find that four attributes are claimed to contribute to higher learning outcomes: the sense of immersion by reducing peripheral views to a minimum; first person perspective contributing to the sense of presence in the film; narrative structure; and sensory stimulation of mirror neurons that promote kinesthetic learning. They demonstrate that most claims are without support in empirical research but uncover some recent results that give reason to believe these claims may be supportable. The authors conclude with a recommendation for a research agenda to support these claims as necessary, in order to defend the high production cost of GS film over conventional film.

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Measuring Public Value: An Instrument and an Art Museum Case Study - Visitor Studies

Yocco, V.S., Heimlich, J.E, Meyer, E., & Edwards, P. (2009)


Using Carol Scott's (2006) discussion of museum impact as a frame, a survey instrument was created to measure the value perceived by a community toward an art museum. The survey was administered at a local community arts festival. A factor analysis revealed that 18 out of 19 items used in the survey aligned with the 3 hypothesized areas of value: individual, societal, and economic. Results of the survey suggest that both recent and recent non-visitors of the museum find similar levels of value in having the museum exist in the community. Across the board, the economic items received the lowest score. Female participants gave significantly higher scores than males. Recommendations include marketing messages that highlight the perceived values expressed in the survey, and further investigation as to how to increase the value perceived by males in the community.