How does non-formal marine education affect student attitude and knowledge? A Case Study Using SCDNR's Discovery Program
McGovern, Mary Francis
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Non-formal environmental education provides students the opportunity to learn in ways that would not be possible in a traditional classroom setting. Outdoor learning allows students to make connections to their environment and helps to foster an appreciation for nature. This type of education can be interdisciplinary - students not only develop skills in science, but also in mathematics, social studies, technology, and critical thinking. This case study focuses on a non-formal marine education program, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources' (SCDNR) <i>Discovery</i> vessel based program. The <i>Discovery</i> curriculum was evaluated to determine impact on student knowledge about and attitude toward the estuary. Students from two South Carolina coastal counties who attended the boat program during fall 2014 were asked to complete a brief survey before, immediately after, and two weeks following the program. The results of this study indicate that both student knowledge about and attitude significantly improved after completion of the <i>Discovery</i> vessel based program. Knowledge and attitude scores demonstrated a positive correlation.