Blending formal and informal science learning environments : leveraging the best of both for optimal student success
Coats, Judith Anne
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This study examined the efficacy of content-focused pre-visit and post-visit activities on student learning when paired with an out-of-classroom learning experience. San Diego Zoo Education staff provided materials for activities to be conducted in the classroom by teachers both before and after a field trip to the zoo for the Life Cycles program for second grade students. Data collection instruments included student artifacts and attitudinal questionnaires supported by teacher surveys and researcher observations of student participation. Students in classes using the pre- and post-visit activities were compared with students in classes who participated in a Life Cycles program but who did not receive the pre- and post-visit activities. Results showed students had a considerable amount of prior knowledge about animal life cycles and that they were overwhelmingly positive about their visit to the zoo. Students who completed a pre-visit activity in the classroom showed a higher percentage of participation in the educational presentation at the zoo. Teachers bringing students to the zoo did not value post-visit activities but highly valued the opportunity for their students to see live animals.