Douglas, J. A., & Katz, C. (2009). It’s all happening at the zoo: Children’s environmental learning after school. Afterschool Matters, 8, 36–45.
The authors of this article advocate for broad opportunities for young children to engage with the natural environment. In one out-of-school time (OST) program, called Animal Rescuers, children aged 10–12 participated in zoo visits, environmental education activities, and the creation of an online space. This project can give ISE educators insight into how zoos might connect children’s development with issues such as animal and environmental justice.
Schwan, S., Grajal, A., & Lewalter, D. (2014). Understanding and engagement in places of science experience: Science museums, science centers, zoos, and aquariums. Educational Psychologist, 49(2), 70–85. doi:10.1080/00461520.2014.917588
Rather than focusing on how different they are, this literature review details shared characteristics of science museums, science centers, zoos, and aquariums in order to contribute to an ecological view of learning. This article identifies four shared characteristics of these informal science environments: motives and goals, staging of popular science, physical layout, and social exchange and participation. The learning outcomes encompass not only knowledge acquisition but also changes in interests and beliefs.
Davidson, S. K., Passmore, C., & Anderson, D. (2009). Learning on zoo field trips: The interaction of the agendas and practices of students, teachers, and zoo educators. Science Education, 94, 122–141.
This study outlines the learning goals, expectations, and perceived outcomes of a zoo field trip from the perspective of students, classroom teachers, and informal educators. They find, among other things, that that students most highly valued the social aspects of the field trip – opportunities to be with their friends and to discuss the field trip events with their friends. They also find that informal educators did not quite understand the needs or interests of the students and therefore missed opportunities to engage students with the science in the zoo. The authors close with several recommendations for planning class visits to museums, zoos, and other informal science institutions.
Smith, L. (2009). Identifying behaviors to target during zoo visits. Curator: The Museum Journal, 52(1), 101–115.
This paper will be of value to ISE professionals interested in designing communication strategies to influence visitor behaviour. The author draws on persuasive communication theory to discuss the design and delivery of messages to target behaviours. This study reflects on the difficulties encountered during a process of identifying and prioritising behaviours to target in zoo contexts.
Trainer, L., Steele-Inama, M., & Christopher, A. (2012). Uncovering visitor identity: A citywide utilization of the Falk visitor-identity model. Journal of Museum Education, 37(1), 101–114.
Nine cultural institutions in one metropolitan community worked together on a study to determine what motivates museumgoers, using John Falk’s visitor-identity model as their theoretical guide and analytical instrument. The results prompted the individual institutions to reflect on their programme development and learning outcomes, their marketing strategies, and their staff professional development.
Fraser, J. (2009). The anticipated utility of zoos for developing moral concern in children. Curator: The Museum Journal, 52(4), 349–361.
Parents committed to bringing their children to zoos ascribed the value of the visits to promoting altruism to prepare their children for future social encounters; transferring their own environmental values; encouraging self-esteem; and inculcating cultural norms. This article suggests that ISE educators can attract/engage parents through appealing to moral development for children.
Dove, T., & Byrne, J. (2013). Do zoo visitors need zoology knowledge to understand conservation messages? An exploration of the public understanding of animal biology and of the conservation of biodiversity in a zoo setting. International Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement. doi:10.1080/21548455.2013.822120
As popular visitor destinations, zoos play a vital role in enhancing understanding of animal biology, conservation, and biodiversity. But what do visitors already understand? This study examined visitors’ knowledge of animal biology and their understanding of how human activity may affect biodiversity. The findings led to a modification of a model that illustrates visitors’ levels of understanding of animal biology and the conservation of biodiversity.