Summative Evaluation of California Condor Rescue Zone

April 1st, 2011 | EVALUATION

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens contracted Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A) to conduct a summative evaluation of the California Condor Rescue Zone (CCRZ), an immersive, facilitated play space designed for elementary school-age children. The summative evaluation explored how well CCRZ achieved its goals for children and adults. How did we approach this study? RK&A conducted naturalistic observations and exit interviews over a six-day period in February and March, 2011. Naturalistic observations documented the behavior of visitors and Zoo staff/volunteers in California Condor Rescue Zone and provided important context for the exit interviews conducted as part of this study. In-depth, open-ended exit interviews examined the cognitive and affective experiences of children and adults in California Condor Rescue Zone. What did we learn? The observation and interview data provide corroborating evidence of CCRZ's success in the four overarching goals for visitors in the space: to increase knowledge of California Condors; to demonstrate why people should care about California Condors; to increase understanding of the LA Zoo's participation in Condor conservation; to increase understanding and engagement with the Biologist/Keeper, Condor, and Veterinarian roles presented in the play activities; and to foster a supportive and satisfying learning relationship between visitors and the LA Zoo's play facilitators. Observation data show that nearly all children and most adults were consistently engaged and enthusiastically used the space in an appropriate manner. Interviews with children and adults demonstrate learning that resulted from using the activities and interacting with the play facilitators. What are the implications of the findings? In light of its many successes, CCRZ provides a great opportunity to engage adults and children in playful learning, foster appreciation for the endangered California condor, convey the threats this species faces in the wild, and explain the key role that the LA Zoo is playing in the species' recovery. In particular, many visitors said that the Vet Clinic area of CCRZ was a memorable and meaningful family learning area and children responded so positively to what they had learned about condors that many described condors as cute and pretty, adjectives generally not used to describe the California condor. Some recommendations for remediation also came out of the data, and RK&A noted that it would be useful to explicitly tie the Zoo's actions to save California condors with key stories and activities in CCRZ; implement strategies to increase the use of the front sections of CCRZ; develop an explicit goal statement for fostering parent-child interactions and explore ways to increase this type of family learning.



Team Members

Randi Korn & Associates, Inc., Evaluator, Randi Korn & Associates, Inc.
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Contributor


Audience: Adults | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Evaluators | Families | Museum | ISE Professionals | Parents | Caregivers | Pre-K Children (0-5)
Discipline: Education and learning science | Life science | Nature of science
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Aquarium and Zoo Exhibits | Exhibitions