Developing Activities for Conceptualizing Climate and Climate Change
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Project Summary

This project aims to develop an innovative instructional program that consists of a series of activities that scientifically move from climate to climate variability to climate change, exploring the complex interface between science and society that forms the basis of management decisions related to climate change issues.

The foundation of this project is the scientific perspective on climate and climate change that guides the development of the instructional program such that studentsí ideas about these concepts are developed in a way that aligns with this scientific perspective.

Successful learning experiences require that instructional programs and activities be designed based on studentsí ideas and understanding, allowing instruction to be sequenced in a way that moves students toward scientific conceptualization ó curricular continuity (Driver, Squires, Rushworth, & Wood-Robinson, 1994).

The final product is a digital-based instructional program that contains data rich case studies and visualization activities, as well as a visual library as a resource for teachers and students. Thus, this project will create a model instructional program for enhancing teachersí pedagogy and improving studentsí geoscience learning that aligns with the NRC science education standards.

To accomplish this, the project will assemble a development team consisting of science educators, climatologists, and earth science teachers. The final product will be disseminated by the College of Science Outreach program and through conference presentations and publications. Specific activities include researching studentsí conceptions to inform instructional design, developing the instructional program and activities, field testing and revising the instructional program, and evaluating the project.

Project Objective

The aim of this project is to enhance science teaching and learning through the development of an innovative instructional program on climate and climate change.

The specific goals are

  1. Develop a research base on studentsí conceptualizations of climate and climate change that informs instructional development.
  2. Develop an innovative and conceptually based and sequenced series of activities for teaching about climate, climate variability, and climate change at the high school level.
  3. Enhance high school studentsí conceptualization of climate and climate change and their visual literacy skills.

Achieving these goals will result in a number of broad impacts. The broader impacts are:

  1. Students more knowledgeable about climate and climate change.
  2. Teachers better able to teach about climate and climate change.
  3. The development of an instructional program for teaching about geoscience concepts and issues that consists of data rich case studies and visualization activities that are model learning experiences for high school students.
  4. The establishment of a data base on studentsí conceptions of climate and climate change, enhancing the research on learning in the geosciences
  5. Research on the effectiveness of case studies and visualization activities on studentsí learning, enhancing the research on learning in the geosciences.

The intellectual merits of the proposed project lie in:

  1. Enhancing high school studentsí knowledge and understanding of climate change concepts and issues
  2. The development of instructional activities based on studentsí conceptualizations of climate and climate change.
  3. The development of a creative and innovative instructional approach for teaching about climate and climate change, providing teachers access to visual resources and rich data sets, case studies, and visualization activities
  4. The establishment of a data base on studentsí conceptions of climate and climate change, enhancing the research on learning in the geosciences
  5. Research on the effectiveness of case studies and visualization activities on studentsí learning, enhancing the research on learning in the geosciences.

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