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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