Global climate change literacy for educators: Using on-line professional development to integrate content and pedagogy

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Donna L. Woudenberg, National Drought Mitigation Center, Lincoln, NE; and D. C. Gosselin, R. J. Bonnstetter, C. S. Larson-Miller, and R. Low

Climate change is one of the most serious global environmental problems that society faces.

Many studies indicate that misconceptions and misunderstandings exist among people, of all ages, about the potential causes, consequences, and solutions. Teachers play an important role in minimizing these misconceptions and associated misunderstandings during a student's formative years. The goal of this project is to test the hypothesis that if middle school to high school educators (grades 6-12) learn about climate processes and climate change in the context of their own environment by employing the basic principles of mass and energy balance, then there will be statistically significant improvement in their climate and Earth system science literacy. This project is strategically designed to address the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Global Climate Change Education (GCCE) program's goal to improve teacher competency in global climate change education. Four on-line, distance-delivered, scientifically and pedagogically relevant educational modules are being developed to improve climate and Earth Systems literacy among middle-level to high school teachers. The four modules will incorporate resources readily available from eight NASA sponsored educational programs to focus on essential principles of climate science. Over the two-year period of the grant, we expect to increase the climate literacy of a minimum of 60 middle-level to high school educators who will, in turn, advance the cause of climate literacy among at least 3000 students. Each educator will be responsible for the development of at least one educational unit that will be disseminated to educators across country through a variety of mechanisms. Through an action research component of the curriculum, the 60 teachers and their students will create action in their own communities to address the challenges of climate change. An assessment program will document the effectiveness of our online educational model so others can replicate it.