What do college students know about the ocean?

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Abstract

A recent survey of students entering a college-level course in introductory oceanography reveals that they feel a strong connection with, and curiosity about, the ocean. To guide this inherent curiosity into understanding and stewardship, educators need to know the ‘hooks,’ the topics and concepts that catch students' interests. According to a survey of 119 students at North Carolina State University-Raleigh, some useful hooks are students' personal, emotional connection with the ocean, human impacts (especially pollution), exotic biology and cool technology.

Survey results further indicate that students already are gaining ocean knowledge from a wide variety of sources, and that the topics of interest to them can be organized using the Essential Principles of Ocean Literacy [Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE), 2005]. The students' general awareness of ocean science is a good basis upon which to build.

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