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Learning about biodiversity: investigating children’s learning at a museum, environment centre and a live animal show

Sim, Grace (2015) Learning about biodiversity: investigating children’s learning at a museum, environment centre and a live animal show. PhD thesis, UCL Institute of Education.

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Abstract

School trips in environment centres, in museums and at live animal shows can cover the same curriculum objectives, relating to habitats and adaptations, at age-appropriate levels. However, each of these three settings has traditions and goals which influence the subtexts conveyed by educators, and therefore the messages pupils gather from learning experiences. This research investigated children’s experiences in these three different informal learning settings in London, UK. The aim was to identify and understand the learning that took place. The main evidence was collected with 180 year 4 pupil participants from local state primary schools. Their learning is visualised in a conceptual framework ‘SPEAK’ that represents learning in the domains of Skills, Place, Emotion, Attitudes and Knowledge (SPEAK). Analysis was based on an existing socioecological literacy framework. There is evidence that the environment exploration was the source of considerable motivation for children. Live animal shows led to children describing species, and subsequently recalling aspects of individual animals’ personalities. Natural history specimen collections developed skills of observation, identification, discovery and reading. A representation of the SPEAK domains is proposed as a tool for reflection for educators, to review the learning intentions of informal teaching experiences. A case study at the Royal Veterinary College shows how it has been used to understand learning, using iPads. A salience theory of informal learning is proposed through considering memorable and transformative aspects of informal learning, from a learning psychology perspective. Aspects of this theory are suggested as areas for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Controlled Keywords: Biodiversity, primary, informal learning, museum, environment, animals
Subjects: Departments > Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
Depositing User: Mr Julian Zerfahs
Date Deposited: 14 May 2015 16:43
Last Modified: 14 May 2015 16:43
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