One of the most important aspects of conservation education is evaluation. Evaluation can be in many forms such as needs assessments or exhibition evaluations. It can also be used to gauge things such as the effectiveness of informal education or education techniques. Below are several articles on evaluation and how to assess a program’s conservation impact.


A Global Evaluation of Biodiversity Literacy in Zoos and Aquarium visitors

The findings presented in this paper are based on the largest and most international study of zoo and aquarium visitors ever conducted worldwide. The study used a pre and post visit repeated measures survey design to evaluate biodiversity literacy – biodiversity understanding and knowledge of actions to help protect biodiversity – in zoo and aquarium visitors. In total, more than 6,000 visitors to 30 zoos and aquariums around the globe participated in the study


Tickled to Death: Analysing Public Perceptions of Cute’
Videos of Threatened Species (Slow Lorises Nycticebus
spp.) on Web 2.0 Sites

The internet is gaining importance in global wildlife trade and changing perceptions of threatened species. There is little data available to examine the impact that popular Web 2.0 sites play on public perceptions of threatened species. YouTube videos portraying wildlife allow us to quantify these perceptions.

Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America
Having an accurate understanding of the role of media in children’s lives is essential for all of those concerned about promoting healthy child development: parents, educators, pediatricians, public health advocates, and policymakers, to name just a few. The purpose of this study is to provide publicly accessible, reliable data about media use among children ages 0 to 8, to help inform the efforts of all of those who are working to improve children’s lives.

Inspiring Ocean Conservation, A Multi-Phase Research Project at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans. From 2006 to 2008, Aquarium staff members and consultants conducted a series of qualitative and quantitative studies to assess the extent to which visiting the Aquarium engaged, inspired and empowered visitors to care about and for the oceans.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Education Committee Newsletter-Evaluation
The August newsletter is dedicated to evaluation; which is a topic that stirs a variety of emotions from fear, doubt, inspiration, and motivation.

A Review of the WAZA/IZE Decade on Biodiversity Survey
By Laura Penn, Ph.D.
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums in partnership with the International Zoo Educators Association conducted a survey to to determine whether and to what extent institutions were using biodiversity-­related educational materials.

Looking At People Looking At Animals: An International Bibliography On Visitor Experience Studies and Exhibit Evaluation in Zoos and Aquariums

Compiled By Harry Schram For The EAZA Education Committee
This is an overview of most existing publications on visitor studies and exhibit evaluation that have been performed in zoos and aquariums.

Why Zoos & Aquariums Matter: Assessing the Impact of a Visit to a Zoo or Aquarium

To find out if zoos and aquariums successfully promote conservation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) formed strategic partnerships and undertook a three-year, nationwide study of the impacts of a visit to a zoo or aquarium. We found that going to AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums in North America does have a measurable impact on the conservation attitudes and understanding of adult visitors.

Visitor Learning in Zoos and Aquariums: Why Zoos and Aquariums Matter, a Literature Review

This is a product of the Multi-Institutional Visitor Research Project which was commissioned by the Conservation Education Committee of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The project seeks to investigate the overall impact of visits to zoos and aquariums on visitors’ conservation-related knowledge, attitudes, effect, and behavior, through comprehensive research at representative zoos and aquariums through the United States.

Trends and Perceptions in Zoo and Aquarium Field
Trips: a Survey-based Study

Here are the results of a survey designed to learn more about the practices of zoo and aquarium educators in regards to field trips. This study delves into the perceptions from zoo and aquarium educators, classroom teachers and chaperones surrounding a field trip.

Designing Effective Fields Trips at Zoos and Aquariums
A study was conducted across zoos and aquariums to develop best practices for field trips. Aspects of the field trips that were considered were preworkshops for the teachers, activities during the field trips such as worksheets and keeper/educator talks and ways to incorporate field trip material into postwork conducted at the schools.

What Information do Zoo and Aquarium Visitors Want on Animal Identification Labels?
In the National Association for Interpretation’s 2009 Journal of Interpretation Research, John Fraser, Jessica Bicknell, Jessica Sickler, and Anthony Taylor explore the topic of identification labels in zoos and aquariums. A multi-institutional study of three zoos and two aquariums was conducted to see what information visitors found to be the most interesting or important. Overall, odd facts/behaviors, endangered status of the animal, habitat and life span top the list of most useful information.

An evaluation of an European Awareness Campaign
Natura 2000 is a collection of protected natural land in Europe which includes privately owned land. This complex system provided the Artis Royal Zoo Amsterdam and Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality an unique task of both promoting these areas and increasing awareness of European wildlife. This project was evaluated over a two-year period and shows that zoo visitors do value the project and conservation initiative.

Marketers Can Help Kids Help Save Planet Earth
Just Kid Inc. recently conducted a study on the child altruism movement. This study shows that children are more likely to buy products when the proceeds support environmental causes about which they feel strongly. While children feel that everyone, themselves included, are responsible for protecting the environment, they are frustrated with the lack of child-centric programs and are looking towards adults and larger companies for ideas and opportunities.

“What do kids think of frogs?”
Evaluating Children’s Attitudes and Knowledge of Frogs

The Johannesburg Zoo conducted a survey of Grade 7 students in South Africa to discover their attitudes towards frogs. The survey measured basic frog knowledge and attitudes by asking questions about touching frogs and frogs as pets. This information will be contributed to the “2008: Year of the Frog” global awareness campaign.

Enhancing the Zoo Visitor’s Experience by Public Animal Training and Interpretation
Zoo Atlanta conducted a study measuring the effects of having an interpreter present during training sessions of the Asian small-clawed otters. The findings suggest that public animal training sessions and those training sessions conducted with an interpreter produce more positive zoo experiences, training perceptions and longer visitor exhibit stay times than compared to passive exhibit viewing and interpretation-only sessions.

Museums and Image courtesy of Louisville Zoo
Informal Education

Informal settings such as museums offer untapped potential for communicating social, cultural and scientific information, correcting misconceptions and improving attitudes and cognitive skills. This article, written by C.G. Screven, offers guidelines on thinking about museums as learning environments.

Recommended Off-line Reading


Diamond, J. (1999). Practical Evaluation Guide : Tools for Museums and Other Informal Educational Settings (American Association for State and Local History Book Series). Calif: Altamira Press.