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ERIC Number: EJ1054740
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Apr
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 23
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1059-0145
Sixth-Grade Students' Progress in Understanding the Mechanisms of Global Climate Change
Visintainer, Tammie; Linn, Marcia
Journal of Science Education and Technology, v24 n2-3 p287-310 Apr 2015
Developing solutions for complex issues such as global climate change requires an understanding of the mechanisms involved. This study reports on the impact of a technology-enhanced unit designed to improve understanding of global climate change, its mechanisms, and their relationship to everyday energy use. Global Climate Change, implemented in the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE), engages sixth-grade students in conducting virtual investigations using NetLogo models to foster an understanding of core mechanisms including the greenhouse effect. Students then test how the greenhouse effect is enhanced by everyday energy use. This study draws on three data sources: (1) pre-and post-unit interviews, (2) analysis of embedded assessments following virtual investigations, and (3) contrasting cases of two students (normative vs. non-normative understanding of the greenhouse effect). Results show the value of using virtual investigations for teaching the mechanisms associated with global climate change. Interviews document that students hold a wide range of ideas about the mechanisms driving global climate change. Investigations with models help students use evidence-based reasoning to distinguish their ideas. Results show that understanding the greenhouse effect offers a foundation for building connections between everyday energy use and increases in global temperature. An impediment to establishing coherent understanding was the persistence of an alternative conception about ozone as an explanation for climate change. These findings illustrate the need for regular revision of curriculum based on classroom trials. We discuss key design features of models and instructional revisions that can transform the teaching and learning of global climate change.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 6; Intermediate Grades; Middle Schools; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A