Module 8


Accessing and Evaluating Resources for Coastal and Marine Studies





Resource 1

Our Most Useful Resources

Resource 2 Developing the ERCME Matrix Resource 3 The ERCME Matrix
Resource 4 A Sample Resource for Evaluation Resource 5 Creating Your Own Evaluation Matrix Resource 6 Resources Available for 'Purchase'
Resource 7 Introduction to the Internet Resource 8 Coastal and Marine Web Sites    


Resource 5

Creating Your Own Evaluation Matrix

Source: Adapted from Tourtillott, L. and Britt, P. (1994) Evaluating Environmental Education Materials, National Consortium for Environmental Education and Training, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, pp. 7-8.

To develop your own evaluation matrix, you must first create a survey instrument using questions developed out of the criteria you choose to include in your evaluation tool. You also need to work out how the answers to the questions help you to compare resources.

Converting Criteria

To turn a generic criterion into an evaluation question, think about what you really want to know and how you or other teachers will use the information. Questions can be asked to give "yes/no" answers, to help choose a number on a scale or to give a narrative response. For example, the criterion "Resources encourage students to clarify their own values" may be converted into several questions: "Do activities in the resource guide students in identifying the value positions held by themselves and others?'; "To what extent does the resource allow students to form opinions?'; or "To what extent are students encouraged to defend or challenge their opinions?'. Framing the questions from the criteria may take some practice and you may wish to do so in conjunction with the next step.

Developing a Rating System

The questions must help you evaluate the materials. What will the answer mean? You can use anything from a simple checklist to a complicated ranking procedure. The following common methods may be appropriate for your use:

  • Check off which criteria are met. This works best with yes/no questions.

  • Each resource can be assigned a score for each criteria and the scores averaged or added to give a guide to the total score for the resource.

  • If some criteria/questions are considered to be more important than others, think about weighting some of the questions in a summary score.

  • Use a narrative response style for the criteria. This will provide more information, but it is difficult to use this to compare many different resources. One way to present information is to group similar responses together or to develop a short annotation for each resource. If more than one person is evaluating, you can indicate how often similar responses are given.

  • The most common type of tool provides a range of responses for each criteria. In this method criteria measure how well the resource meets the criteria, rather than a simple yes/no response. For example: "On a scale of 1 - 5, where 1 = not at all and 5 = very well, how well does the resource incorporate different learning styles?'

Most new evaluation tools will have a few kinks to be worked out. It is recommended that you pilot your tool on at least two resources. See if the criteria can be addressed in the way the questions are asked. If not, try to phrase the questions differently. Also, make sure that the information generated by each criterion is useful in determining whether the resource meets your goals and those of coastal and marine studies.

Resource 6

Resources Available for 'Purchase'

Adams, J. (1991) Mangroves Alive!, Paramatta State School, Cairns. (Book)

A book by students about discovering the mangroves around Cairns. Uses cutout pages to highlight the discovery. The project, including the production of the book, is a winner of the national Earthworm Award. Set in tropical Queensland, this provides an interesting stimulus package. Mainly used to introduce marine science but also used by community and conservation groups to show what groups can do. Cutouts need careful handling but this is an attractive resource.   

Australia Post/Australian Philatelic Federation (n.d.) Exploring the World Down Under (The Stamping Ground), CAW Marketing, Sydney. (Kit)

Kit is designed to support teachers in developing students' knowledge about marine life. Uses Australian in general but with a tropical bias. Has student activity sheets relating to postage stamps. Chiefly for primary environmental education and shows science in practice. Useful way of displaying stamps.    

What's For Dinner, Thank You, Dataworks, Australia, 1994. (CD-ROM)

Foodwebs in the Southern Oceans of the Antarctic. Suitable for all backgrounds. Used as a reference and for independent work. Useful as an interactive teaching tool with good imagery.

Marine Kit, Gould League of Victoria Inc., Moorabbin. (Books/posters/stickers)

Teacher activity books: Secrets at the Beach, Coasting, Riding the Tide.
Posters: Fish. Sharks, Beachcombing, Shells, Rockpool, Seabirds.
Stickers: Crabs, Rockpool, Dune.
Appropriate for a range of habitats, especially in temperate areas of Australia. Suitable for all backgrounds though the posters require higher cognitive skills for interpretation. Suggested for use as a pre-visit resource and as a classroom display. Excellent teachers' aid.

Steele, P. (1991) Sharks and Other Monsters of the Deep, Random Century Aust. Pty. Ltd., Melbourne.

A very good guide for understanding and learning about sea creatures Including sharks, anemones, jelly fish. molluscs, giant squids, octopuses, crabs, jawless fish, sea reptiles, bony fish, and weapons used by sea creatures. The context is Australian seashores. Can be used across a number of science units, including biology. A very good resource with numerous colourful pictures with good information.

Habitat Stickers (9): Rockpool Life, Shells, Fish, Coastal Birds, Dune Plants, Crabs, Whales, Barrier Reef Creatures, Penguins. Gould League of Victoria Inc., Moorabbin. (Stickers)

Colour representations of sea life adaptable to many uses. Cheap and easy to use. Can be stuck into sticker booklets which provides text, or used by students to illustrate their own work. They relate to any Australian coastline and are all in full colour. Used in primary science and studies of the environment and as follow up after field visits. Cheap, quick, easy, colourful resource to lead into discussions on ecology and habitat. Can be used as 'rewards'.

Ross, B. (ed) (1977) Australian and New Zealand Complete Book of Boating. Hamlyn, Sydney. (Book)


Encyclopedia on boats, instructions and types in great detail. Applicable to all Australasian waters with many illustrations. Used in Marine Studies as a reference and for personal study. Thorough coverage of types, procedures to use, safety procedures, where to sail. Good reference.

Shaw, Porteus and Wansbrough (eds) (1992) When the Bell Rings! Longman Cheshire, Melbourne. (Book)

Ready-to-use work units for busy teachers. Has a unit on shipwrecks and underwater music, set in any watery environment. Contains activity sheets within units of work. Used across levels and subjects. Many curriculum areas covered in the framework of the unit.

Resources for Primary Schools, GBR Aquarium Volunteer Association, Townsville. (Book)

Student activity book containing a well laid out series of activities on marine environments and information on sharks, whales, and seasnakes. Applies to the Reef and most coastal areas. Useful facts summarised in simple language accompany every activity. Black and white masters can be copied for classroom use. Appropriate for environmental and nature focused studies. Innovative activities and crafts and clear layout make this a useful classroom resource.

Undersea Adventure, Knowledge Adventure, London, 1994. (CD-ROM)

High quality marine information in an interactive format that is applicable to any marine habitat. Suitable for all backgrounds and provides a variation on print resources. Suggested use is as a pre- or post-visit beach activity. Great for exploration and just plain fun.

Moffat, R. (1991) Marine Science Worksheets, Wetpaper Publishers, Ashmore. (Kit)


Primarily about tropical reefs but some activities are transferable to southern waters. Set on the Reef in Northern Australia, with easy-to-use prepared worksheets. ESL groups may need teacher assistance. Used at Environmental Education Centres to provide constructive ideas for visiting teachers, especially for art. Good follow-on ideas for marine studies

Moroney, D., Bourke, S. and Hanson, S. (1994) Caring for the Coast: Coastal Activities for Primary Schools, City of Henley and Grange, Henley Beach, SA. (Kit)

The kit contains a teacher's guide with student activity sheets and background information. Focuses on how to protect coastal environments. Habitats are mostly coasts, with a focus on temperate zones of South Australia. Features black and white activity sheets, teacher background information on coastal wildlife and plants and a glossary. Marine Education and aspects of Science and Society and the Environment in upper primary classes. An excellent resource which encourages students to take actions to protect their coast. Written by educators to cover the gap in appropriate material in South Australia.

Gillett K, and Yaldwin J. (1978) Australian Seashores In Colour, National Library of Australia, Sydney. (Field guide)

Introduction to the range of teeming life of intertidal zones, along the Australian coast line. Very good photography of places including diagrams and maps. Can be a field guide or for general science. Good for identifying animals and developing some background knowledge. Suitable for high school student research.

Underwood, A.J. and Chapman, M.G. (eds.) (1995) Coastal Marine Ecology of Temperate Australia, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney. (Book)

Excellent reference written as a textbook for high school teachers and undergraduates with illustrations, maps and diagrams. Context is the temperate coastlines of Australia though many of the processes apply everywhere in marine habitats. Written for tertiary courses, this is still very useful in senior marine sciences and biology. Scientific and very detailed with a high reading level. This is appropriate for individual study and for teacher reference.

Wincer, S. (1993) Free Willy, Warner Bros. (Video)

A young boy develops a friendship with a Killer whale kept in captivity. Scenery includes inshore and ocean scenes, although many are American. A popular commercial video, available in video shops. A general interest story on marine mammals used in Year 7 Science and for stimulus in other levels. Lightweight, but popular with younger students.

Living in Water, National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland USA, 1987. (Activity guide)

A series of practical science investigations into the properties of water and aquatic environments and the plants and animals that live in them. It includes exercises in classification, sorting data, experimentation as well as application to other learning areas. Written for North America, but much of the experimental work has universal application. Many good experiments. Some Black line masters provided and a good source of ideas for developing new materials. An excellent resource for the teacher of any aquatic science.

Farrugia J. and Lindford C. (1996) An Octopus's Garden Resource Kit and Guide, Victorian Institute of Marine Sciences for Ocean Rescue 2000, Melbourne. (Kit and resource guide)

An Early Childhood marine education resource guide for developing activities to stimulate learning for children 3-8 years old. Contains a wide variety of stimuli posters, artefacts, puppets, and other materials appropriate for any beach and coastal setting. Offering strategies for enhancing learning through discovery, inquiry and hands on exploration while incorporating a number of skills, concepts and understandings, the kit is available for loan through Marine Discovery Centre, Queenscliff, Victoria or from Under Water World, Mooloolabah, Queensland. Used in primary science, environmental education and for fieldwork. An invaluable aid and model for development of age-appropriate learning strategies in Marine Education. Great fun to use and do.

Drains to the Bay, Melbourne Water, Melbourne (1992). (Kit)

Curriculum guide for developing an inquiry based approach to science and social education, with a 10 minute animated video on storm water drains and their impact on Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. Though made for Victoria, it has cross-state applicability because of its messages. Used in general sciences, geography and in environmental studies as well as a stimulus for special events like World Environment Day or Clean Up Australia. Good example of an integrated inquiry based learning approach to study the issues associated with storm water run off from urban environments. Numerous simple activities to illustrate basic concepts, not merely Port Phillip Bay.

Mason, P.L. (ed.) (1987) Birds of South-Eastern Australia: Oceans, Bays and Beaches. 2nd edition, Gould League of Victoria, Moorabbin. (Field guide)

Ideal hand sized field guide with detailed descriptions and illustrations of the bird species found in the coastal environment. Full colour illustrations with bird list and habitat index included. Relates to South-eastern Australian coastlines. Suitable for all backgrounds, small format. Used as a reference book in field studies for younger children. Simple to use, but restricted cover to major and most common species.

The Reef, Melbourne, 1987. (Video)

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world. An underwater cameraman captures the coral formations and the wide variety of fish and wildlife in the area. Set in the Great Barrier Reef of Queensland, but avoids any of the issues affecting life on the reef today. Good basic content for general sciences. Useful introduction.

The Irrawaddy Dolphin: Sea Turtles; Sperm Whales; The Dugong; Mangrove Plant Forest Habitat, Northern Territory Department of Education, Darwin, 1993. (Leaflet)

Well illustrated information on A3 size leaflets. Contains information on biology, habitat distribution and threatened marine species; set in Northern Territory. Large format, clear unfussy illustrations; most suited for field work or for individual research into various topics in science, environmental studies and biology. Well presented and informative in pamphlet format.

Moffatt, R. (1992) Marine Studies: A Course for Senior Students, Wet Paper Publications, Ashmore. (Book)

Text covering boating, navigation, marine communication, personal water skills, management, conservation, living and non-living aspects of the marine environment. Focus is on East Australia, but information can be applied elsewhere. Study/review questions, assignments, activities, experiments and roleplays for students, all in black and white. Student text designed for Queensland. Marine Studies syllabus. Brings together a considerable amount of information for the first time. Good reference book for class use with numerous illustrations and black and white photographs.

Resource 7

Introduction to the Internet

The Internet is a vast, worldwide network of computers which is sometimes referred to as the 'Information Superhighway'. Computers connected to the Internet are able to access data and services provided by other computers on the network. Many services are provided, but one of the most commonly used services is the World Wide Web.


The World Wide Web (also known as WWW or W3) is the 'latest and greatest' information service to arrive on the Internet. It has been described as 'a wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative, aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents'. WWW attempts to give a standard way of accessing the largely unstructured information available on the Internet.

Information is presented in documents which contain links to other documents. This makes navigation veryeasy. Documents can contain text, graphic, sound and video information. Most WWW browser software can also view other information such as news groups and information stored on the Gopher servers. WWW presents documents in hypertext (highlighted text) which provides linkages to other documents.

One of the most popular WWW browsers in Australia is Netscape. This browser is menu-driven but also contains a toolbar to help you find your way through home pages. The location bar allows the user to type in a web address (or URL) to arrive at a desired web site.

Documents from different home pages can be printed or saved to disk, bearing in mind copyright regulation at all times. Resource 8 lists some relevant sites for you to explore.

Glossary of Terms

E-Mail Electronic Mail

HTML HyperText Markup Language. A markup language used to create documents which are available on the World Wide Web

HTTP HyperText Transfer Protocol. A set of standards used to transfer information through the World Wide Web

Netscape One of the most popular internet browsers

Newsgroup A forum for discussion and information transfer

World Wide Web A method of structuring information on the Internet

WWW World Wide Web

URL Uniform Resource Locator. Every electronic page on the WWW has a unique address called a URL

Resource 8

Coastal and Marine Web Sites

  1. ERIN: Environmental Resources Information Network
    ERIN is the home page of the Australian Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories. As soon as you access the site, an icon invites you to 'click' on a range of the Department's areas of concerns. One of these is coastal and marine environments. There you will be able to access many major reports, including Our Seas, Our Future: Major Findings of the State of the Marine Environment Report for Australia.

  2. Coast Net
    CoastNet is a forum on the Internet for communicating about coastal management issues. CoastNet has topical discussion groups and contact lists; information on conferences, workshops and meetings; on-line manuals and reports; details on community monitoring programs; and bibliographic reference material.

  3. Australian and Coastal Community Network
    The Network is a non-government agency that links community groups in order to develop co-operative approaches to managing coastal and marine environments. Hosts newsgroups and lists of contacts.

  4. Great Barrier Reef Aquarium
    About GBRMPA's aquarium and all topics related to aquariums. Has Bibliography on available books from GBRMPA and many colour photographs. Fun site for students to browse through by themselves. Informative and eye catching.

  5. Gould League Home Page
    Contains sections on the marine environment among other things. Primarily focused on Australia. This site was created to encourage Internet usage in schools. Used for research projects. Colourful, easy to use site.

  6. Port Phillip Bay Environmental Study and Melbourne Water Home Page
    Marine and water supply information in Victoria. Includes information on who does what and on going research activities. Can be used in preparation for local field trip. Well set up.

  7. Welcome to Stream Watch Home Page
    Local information about the Community Water Quality Monitoring Program in Melbourne. Has news, places to go, people to contact as well as linkups to other environmental pages. Useful for high school research project about Melbourne water and in preparation for field trips. Mainly focused on streams and rivers.

  8. Catalogue of Marine Fish and Invertebrates (Aquaria Data)
    Marine and freshwater fish and invertebrate catalogue. Has global context with large colourful pictures and scientific names of each species. Can be used by young students who want to know what a specific fish looks like.

  9. Animal and Project Information Database
    Marine related topics on and about Sea World, USA. Has quizzes, facts about animals in the aquarium, photo index, career information and an "own questions" page. Can be used by an students to access information about animals and research at Sea World. Very attractive and colourful site.

  10. Environmental Organization Web Directory
    Directory over all existing environmental web dates, world wide. Huge site. Used to browse through and find specific sites on the web. Easy to use despite its size. Very informative.