Relevance, Rigor, and Relationships: Student Perceptions Following Participation in an Integrated Experiential Zoo-Based Academic High School Science Program


The purpose of this survey study was to compare students’ measured Likert scale perceptions of posttest school climate survey, relevance, rigor, and relationships domain scores following 11th- and 12th-grade participation in either an integrated experiential zoo-based academic high school science program (n = 18) or a same school district integrated experiential school-based academic high school science program (n = 18). Science coursework delivery site served as the study’s independent variable. ACT composite scores and science grade point average scores were equivalent for students participating in both science programs. Students participating in the zoo-based experiential academic high school science program completed real world, hands-on projects on-site at a nationally recognized zoo while same school district control group students participating in the integrated experiential school-based academic high school science program completed matched curriculum, real world, simulated projects in their classrooms. Students who completed the integrated experiential zoo-based academic high school science program compared to control group students had statistically greater posttest Likert scale perceptions of program relevance where independent t(34) = 4.13, p = .0002 (two-tailed), ES = 1.410; program rigor t(34) = 3.66, p = .0008 (two-tailed), ES = 1.237; and program relationships t(34) = 4.98, p < .0001 (two-tailed), ES = 1.690. The importance of these powerfully held beliefs for students’ successful participation in their future science studies is discussed.

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Mulkerrin, E. and Hill, J. (2013) Relevance, Rigor, and Relationships: Student Perceptions Following Participation in an Integrated Experiential Zoo-Based Academic High School Science Program. Creative Education, 4, 287-297. doi: 10.4236/ce.2013.44043.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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