Date on Honors Thesis

Spring 3-8-2023


Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Andrea Darracq, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Howard Whiteman, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Mr. Mike Gowen, Committee Member


Given the frequently negative effects each person imposes on their environment (e.g., resource consumption, use of private and public land, and waste production), the public needs to be included in conservation messaging to sustain a healthy, functioning planet. People are generally not informed about conservation topics, which creates difficulties in creating a conservation mindset. Moreover, there is a disconnect between conservation research and presenting conservation related topics to the public in a coherent, accessible format. Thus, conservation education messaging strategies need to be evaluated to determine which are most effective. The objective of this research was to determine the effectiveness of using different strategies related to messaging format and music to teach conservation topics. Specifically, I used a 2 x 2 factorial design with messaging type (traditional lecture versus storytelling) and song inclusion (included or not) as factors and taught four sections of sixth or seventh grade students about invasive species at two different schools (n = 2 per treatment combination; 8 total sections). A pre-survey was given to the students before the lesson to determine their prior knowledge and perceptions of invasive plants. Following the pre-survey, the lesson about invasive plants was completed. Additionally, a separate survey was given to students to assess how they felt about the messaging strategy used. The surveys were analyzed to measure the effectiveness of messaging type and the use of music on student learning gains. The lecture lesson was best for the students with no prior knowledge of invasive species while learning gains were greatest with the story + song lesson for students with prior knowledge of invasive species. The students’ enjoyment of each of the lesson types did not differ, though males enjoyed all lesson types less than females. Ultimately, a combined messaging strategy approach to teaching conservation topics such as invasive plants may be most effective to student learning. My study will ultimately contribute to our understanding of how to communicate conservation messages to middle school aged children.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.