Conservation Education Before/After Study

About the study

We are conducting a before-after survey study to investigate students’ conservation perspectives and explore how they relate to the conservation teaching they receive. We will be sending a survey to students at the start and end of their conservation module or academic year. Both surveys will include the 38 statements developed by the Future of Conservation project. Using the same statements in both surveys will allow us to measure students’ conservation views over the course of their education and investigate whether their conservation perspectives change. Any changes in students’ perspectives will be modelled against module content variables. The ‘before’ survey also aims to investigate students’ motivations for studying conservation and their career aspirations. The ‘after’ survey will include questions to explore students’ conservation education experiences and what they believe has influenced their conservation perspectives. This before-after study is one of the stages in a PhD research project about conservation higher education.

This study ran in 2020-21 and we are now recruiting UK conservation modules for the next academic year (2021-22). If you lead a module with ‘conservation’ in the title at a UK higher education institution and are happy to participate by distributing a ‘before’ survey link your module students, please click the below button and complete the short sign-up survey:

NB: to qualify for the before-after study the module should have the word ‘conservation’ in the module title/name, be taught at a UK higher education institution and not be solely offered for part-time students.

The process

The infographic above shows a summary of the main steps for this before-after survey study.

We will be inviting conservation degree co-ordinators and selected conservation module/unit co-ordinators to share the ‘before’ survey link with their students. Degree co-ordinators will be asked to share the ‘before’ link at the start of the academic year and module/unit co-ordinators, at the start of their conservation module/unit.

The first ‘before’ survey will ask students to provide their student email address. This is so that we can send them the second ‘after’ survey link at the end of their academic year or module.

We will be asking any co-ordinators who teach over 80% of the module/unit to complete a short teacher version of the survey which includes the same 38 Likert-type statements. This will allow us to explore whether students’ conservation views move towards their educators’ conservation views.

Summary feedback

Degree co-ordinators that agree to share the survey link with their conservation students will receive a bespoke summary of their student’s ‘before’ survey results in December (UK degrees) or June (Australian degrees). Degree co-ordinators will also receive a before-after summary at the end of the academic year.

Module/unit co-ordinators that agree to share the survey link with their conservation module students will receive a bespoke summary of their students ‘before’ survey results 3 weeks after their module has started. Module/unit co-ordinators will also receive a before-after class summary following the ‘after’ survey responses.

Students who complete the both the ‘before’ and ‘after’ survey will receive a bespoke summary of their survey results.

To see an example of the graphs and summary information educators will receive, please visit our summary feedback page.

Examples of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ surveys

The following links are examples of the UK versions of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ surveys. If there are any significant changes to the surveys, we will highlight the changes to any degree or module/unit co-ordinators that agrees to participate when sending out the ‘before’ survey link.

Conservation degree ‘before’ survey preview

Conservation degree ‘after’ survey preview

Conservation module ‘before’ survey preview

Conservation module ‘after’ survey preview

Ethics and data management

This study has been reviewed and approved by the School of Geosciences University of Edinburgh ethics committee.

The before and after surveys will be hosted on the online survey platform Qualtrics. The survey responses will be downloaded from the online platform and stored in the Edinburgh DataStore (a secure storage space offered by the University of Edinburgh). All of the data gathered will be stored securely on the University of Edinburgh servers and will solely be used for academic research. 

No IP address or location data will be recorded. The email addresses provided in the ‘before’ survey responses will only be used to contact participants with a second ‘after’ survey link, send summary results and invitations to participate in any later stages of this research project. Each participant will be assigned a unique anonymous identifier, and this will replace the email address in the survey response dataset. This unique anonymous identifier will then be used to match the before and after survey responses. The email addresses collected in the ‘before’ survey will not be shared with anyone and will be securely stored on the University of Edinburgh servers, separate from the survey data.

The before-after survey responses will only be used as part of a PhD project about conservation higher education and may form the basis of peer-review academic publications. 

An anonymised version of the datasets, excluding all personal information that could be used to identify individual responses, will be made available to the funders of the research and may be shared with other researchers. The anonymised dataset may also be included as supporting material for any related peer-reviewed academic publications. Anonymised data sets will be stored for 10 years (the retention period that the funding body requires).

All information that we collect during this before-after survey study will be kept strictly confidential. Individual’s survey responses will not be identifiable in the PhD thesis or any related publications.

If you are worried about this research, or if you are concerned about how it is being conducted, you can contact the Chair of the Geosciences Ethics Committee by emailing

Questions or comments?

If you have any questions about this survey or the wider research project, please contact Helena Slater on or the supervisory team:

Aidan Keane (University of Edinburgh)
Janet Fisher (University of Edinburgh)
George Holmes (University of Leeds)
Chris Sandbrook (University of Cambridge)