Thesis Title

Evaluation of Cave Programs: Impact on Tourists' Cave Knowledge and Attitudes

Date of Graduation

Spring 2000

Degree

Master of Science in Biology

Department

Biology

Committee Chair

Janice Greene

Subject Categories

Biology

Abstract

Recreation has a profound influence on the quality of our lives and our world's resources. Parks and other natural recreation resources offer a wide range of activities. Programs that are designed to inform us about a habitat or an ecosystem should lead to a better understanding of that habitat and to a more positive treatment of that system. This study focused on those programs designed to inform tourists about the cave ecosystem. A questionnaire, which included twelve knowledge questions and four attitude questions, was designed to measure the effectiveness of interpretive programming of 10 commercial caves in Missouri. Commercial caves are caves that provide a guided tour for a fee. The participating caves consisted of two management groups, public (owned by a government agency) and private (owned by a private individual or corporation). The questionnaire was given in two parts, a pre-survey and a post-survey. The pre-survey was distributed prior to the cave tours between July and November of 1998 and the post-survey was later mailed to participants. A total of 167 respondents completed and returned the post questionnaire. Overall, the trend for both groups was a positive knowledge gain and a slight increase in their attitude levels. Knowledge scores exhibited by the public cave respondents were higher, both before and after their tours, than the private cave visitors. However, the private cave tour respondents showed the larger gain in knowledge after attending the tours. Attitude pre-tour and post-tour scores were also higher in the public cave respondents. The amount of gain in attitude was not significantly different between the two cave audiences, who exhibited high prescores.

Copyright

© Fara Linn Dyke

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