Project TECHNOcean Research

Perception of the Ocean

Student open-ended prompt: What is the first thing that pops into your head when you think about the ocean?

Student answers on the pre-assessment were grouped into the following four themes: Physical Aspects of the Ocean (beach, sand, water, salt, waves, etc.), Biological Aspects (ocean animals or plants), Human (swimming, surfing, beautiful, etc.), and Other. The CFMS students averaged 1.25 themes in their answers and the MMS students averaged 1.5 themes, meaning that they gave more detailed responses and included different aspects of the ocean in their responses. The proportion of responses that mentioned each theme is listed on the graphs. However, in order to accurately compare frequency, the proportions have been scaled so their totals equal one. Section sizes in the pie chart reflect this scaling.

CFMS 6th Ocean

CFMS 7th Ocean

MMS 7th Ocean

MMS 8th Ocean

Interestingly, this distribution of responses is different from MarineQuest's 2006-2007 study on school students and what they think of when they hear "Marine Science." In that study, students overwhelmingly responded with the name of an organism. This difference could be due to the prompt being written in a slightly different way, but it is still interesting to note. When asked what they think about the ocean, students are more likely to answer with a physical aspect of the ocean such as its size or color, or that it includes aspects such as salt water and a beach. Although a broad general definition of Marine Science is the study of the ocean, when asked their thoughts about marine science student responses usually included the name of an organism and not information about the ocean itself.

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