Do Different Methods of Communication Impact Undergraduate Student’s Knowledge, Attitudes, & Beliefs Towards White-nose Syndrome in Little Brown Bats
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White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a deadly fungal disease that has killed millions of hibernating bats since its introduction to North America in 2006. The little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), once widespread across the US, has been the most severely impacted with some colonies experiencing a 99% decline. Scientists believe changing people’s behavior is the key to bat conservation as the fungus is spread primarily by humans transferring the fungus between bat colonies. Outreach is a common method used to affect behavioral change in people, but not all outreach methods are equally effective. The purpose of this study was to investigate if different methods of media communication, video and written-text, impacted undergraduate student’s attitudes toward, beliefs toward, conservation behaviors concerning, and their knowledge toward little brown bats and WNS. Data were collected using an online survey distributed to undergraduate students at the University of Maine (n = 233). Participants were asked a set of questions before the treatment (pre-test), given either text or video outreach material, and then asked the same questions (post-test). Overall, there were no significant differences between the text and video as outreach methods in their effects on the four cognitions. There were significant changes in the four cognitions within the each treatment. Both text and video treatments positively and significantly impacted attitudes toward, beliefs toward, conservation behaviors concerning, and their knowledge toward little brown bats and WNS. These significant changes between the pre- and post-test within treatments, illustrate the impact outreach has on cognitions that support conservation.