We have been sharing results from studies of how Zoo and Aquarium (Z/A) personnel and visitors think and talk about these institutions. In the last post we focused on the results from survey modules that assessed personnel and visitor perceptions of Zoos and Aquariums in terms of Z/A conservation efforts and opportunities they provide for STEM learning. That post covered the perceptions that these two groups have in common and areas where they diverge.
For this post, we focus on findings from two survey modules designed to understand how visitors view their local Z/A compared to other cultural institutions, including Z/A, in general. Continue reading “Shaping the Narrative: How Does My Zoo and Aquarium Compare to Other Institutions?”
Our last series of posts looked at findings from Knology’s studies of the STEM Learning Ecology. Those posts covered the various places where STEM learning takes place in daily life, where zoos and aquariums (Z/As) fit in that picture, and some of the implications of that research. This next series of posts present critical findings from a yearlong survey study conducted at 95 Z/As across the United States.
In this post, we will look at data on the ways that visitors and Z/A personnel talk and think about these institutions. Specifically, we report on our findings about the perceptions that these two categories of individuals have about Z/As, including how they think about conservation and opportunities for STEM learning. It covers what perceptions these two groups have in common and areas where they diverge.
The survey asked visitors and personnel about their perceptions of the concept of conservation. When asked what conservation means, most personnel and visitors understood that it involves protecting nature (73% of personnel and 63% of visitors). Not surprisingly, the link between education and conservation was clearer to personnel than it was to visitors. Of the personnel responses that we received, 13% made this connection in their explanations of conservation, but only 3% of visitors could do so.
We also found differences in personnel and visitors’ perceptions of the subject areas people working in conservation need to know about. About 50% of personnel thought such people should know about a specific branch of science such as biology, chemistry, and environmental science. However, only 13% of visitors mentioned a specific branch of science as something that people working in conservation need to know about. Continue reading “Shaping the Narrative: Do Visitors and Personnel Think About Zoos & Aquariums in the Same Way?”