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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Connecting children to the ocean : understanding elementary students' changes in ocean literacy during a marine aquarium summer camp experience Kim, Jong-Mun


Relatively little research has been carried out on how to increase ocean literacy among students from diverse sociocultural backgrounds in both formal and informal educational contexts. To contribute to the pressing need for research in this important area, this study employed a mixed methods approach and examined changes in elementary students’ (Grades 3 to 5) ocean literacy during a five-day summer camp (AquaCamps) experience provided by the Vancouver Aquarium. A specially developed survey questionnaire, interview protocol, in-camp observations, and document analysis methods were used to collect data on the characteristics of changes in students’ ocean literacy as well as the influences of AquaCamps and other life experiences on the changes in their marine science knowledge and orientations (naturalistic, aesthetic, recreational, utilitarian, and negativistic). Quantitative analysis of the survey data revealed appreciable changes in students’ marine science knowledge and in their orientations. In particular, students’ marine science knowledge and naturalistic, aesthetic, and recreational orientations increased while utilitarian and negativistic orientations decreased after participating in AquaCamps. Qualitative data analysis elucidated AquaCamps program components that influenced these changes. The analysis also revealed additional sources including family members and multimedia, which affected changes in students’ ocean literacy. A noteworthy finding of this study is students’ limited understanding of their connections to the ocean and marine organisms as a whole. This study highlights the need for marine education to focus on building individual student’s ocean literacy by (1) helping individual students to explicitly understand how they are connected to ocean/marine organisms and (2) providing individual students with opportunities to build emotional connections to ocean/marine organisms through direct encounters. This study’s findings have implications for theory and practice in the field of marine education and provide a basis for offering suggestions on ways marine aquarium education might foster students’ ocean literacy.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada