The effectiveness of interpretive methods in informal educational facilities : an experimental study with reference to marine parks
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Interpretation has been used in many tourism sectors as a technique in achieving building hannony between resources and human needs. The objectives of this study are to identify the types of the interpretive methods used, and to evaluate their effectiveness, in marine parks. This study reviews the design principles of an effective interpretation for marine wildlife tourism, and adopts Drams' five design principles (1997) into a conceptual framework. Enjoyment increase, knowledge gain, attitude and intention change, and behaviour modification were used as key indicators in the assessment of the interpretive effectiveness of the Vancouver Aquarium (VA) and Marineland Canada (MC). Since on-site research is unavailable, a virtual tour is created to represent the interpretive experiences in the two study sites. Self-administered questionnaires are used to measure responses. Through comparing responses to the questionnaires (pre-, post-virtual tours and follow-up), this study found that interpretation increased enjoyment and added to respondents' knowledge. Although the changes in attitudes and intentions are not significant, the findings indicate that attitude and intention changes did occur as a result of interpretation, but only to a limited extent. Overall results suggest that more techniques should be added to enhance the effectiveness of the interpretation in marine parks or self-guiding tours, and with careful design, virtual tours are the innovative interpretation techniques for marine parks or informal educational facilities.