The Effect of Instruction on Children’s Knowledge of Marine Ecology, Attitudes Toward the Ocean, and Stances Toward Marine Resource Issues

Shirley Cummins, Gloria Snively


This study examined grade 4 students’ knowledge of marine ecology, their attitude towards the seashore and ocean, and their stances (preservationist, conservationist, exploitive) towards marine resource issues before and after a classroom instructional unit. Students’ pre-instructional and post-instructional questionnaires, drawings and writing were collected and analyzed. Prior to instruction, the students’ knowledge level was low, however their ocean attitudes were positive and they were predominately preservationist and conservationist in their stances. The instructional unit was developed using a constructivist perspective with an emphasis on experiential learning and included field trips to the seashore and the investigation of a local marine resource issue (Pacific salmon stock depletion). After instruction, a significant increase in knowledge and positive attitude was evident. As well, students’ stances toward marine resource issues were less polarized. The results have implications for environmental education in general and marine ecology and resource management studies in particular.

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