Capstone/Dissertation Title

Experiential learning and urban students: how does the mentor program at the Minnesota Zoo influence future science career decisions for urban junior high students?





Degree Name



The capstone investigates how the Minnesota Zoo Mentor Program influences career predispositions of urban junior high students and whether experiential learning opportunities cause those students to consider scientific careers. The researcher was influenced by the Minnesota Zoo and the Wildlife Science Center to pursue a career in teaching. Theorists Krumboltz and Super indicate that experiences and self-image during adolescence shape what career paths people choose. The study, conducted via paper questionnaire mailed to 300 former participants in the Mentor Program, asked students their feelings before and after the Mentor Program. While response was not high, definite trends became evident. Results show influences were teachers and parents field trips and mentor experiences received high ratings. The most important people to influence our youth are teachers, followed by parents. Most students consider experiential learning their biggest influence towards a possible career, with most increasing their affinity and confidence for scientific careers.

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