Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2013

Abstract

This summative evaluation, conducted in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, studied whether participation in a conservation education camp positively changed 8–12-year-old children’s (a) knowledge of how to protect animals, (b) care about animals, (c) propensity for environmental and wildlife stewardship, and (d) compassionate behavior toward animals and nature. Influenced by conservation psychology, social learning theory, empathy and moral development, constructivism, and conservation biology, 5-day overnight camps were conducted at 2 zoological institutions. Activities were designed to help children form bonds with animals and care enough to positively change their behavior toward animals and nature. Mixed methods, using pre- and post-visit surveys, researcher field notes, vignettes, student journals, an end of camp questionnaire, and a camper behavior ethogram, revealed significant increases in knowledge, care, and propensity for action, and an additional theme, empathy. This study identified effective strategies to promote positive behavior toward animals, empathy, and conservation behavior.

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