“Disgusting” Animals: Primary School Children’s Attitudes and Myths of Bats and Spiders
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Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, SLOVAKIA
Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK
Publish date: 2008-04-22
EURASIA J. Math., Sci Tech. Ed 2008;4(2):87–97
Knowledge of animals may influence children‟s beliefs and behaviour toward them, thus building positive attitudes toward animals is one of main goals of environmental education programmes. Although keeping animals contributes to the increase of children‟s positive attitudes toward wild animals, pet owners show similar negative attitudes toward less popular animals such as insects, bats or rats than non-pet owners. Moreover, some of these animals are emblazoned with various myths (hereafter alternative conceptions) which may have a negative impact on children‟s attitudes toward them. We used a novel approach with two questionnaires with nearly identical items for identifying attitudes to bats and spiders in a sample of primary school participants (N = 196) aged 10 - 16 years. Score from each questionnaire was factor analysed and then compared with a pair-wise statistic. Children (especially girls) showed more negative attitudes toward spiders in comparison with bats. Both knowledge and alternative conceptions were distributed randomly irrespective of children‟s age or gender. We found a moderate, but significant correlation between alternative conceptions and attitudes, whereas more alternative conceptions resulted in more negative attitudes. Interestingly, the link between attitude and knowledge was found just for bats, but not for spiders perhaps due to greater fear from spiders. Implications of the study for the science education practise are discussed.