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Transcript
Opinions About Climate Change Among Non-science Majors
and Influence of Passive vs. Active Learning Strategies
Geoff Horst
Department of Fisheries and Wildife
2009 FAST Symposium
Climate Change is an important but controversial issue
PEW Survey Finds Less than ½ of Adults Accept Concept
of Human-Induced Climate Change
100%
PEW Survey of Adults
80%
No/Don't
know
60%
Yes
40%
20%
0%
77%
47%
Is there global
warming?
and if
so, because of
humans?
1)
From what you have read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average
temperature of the earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades?
(Yes/No/I Don’t Know) – Directly from PEW survey
2)
If yes, then:
a) Mostly due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels
b) Mostly because of natural patterns in the earth’s environment
c) Don’t know
Climate Change Refresher
Objectives For This Research
Teaching Goal:
In order to understand how to teach climate change more
effectively, I need to know what opinions students have about
climate change coming into the course and what factors may be
influencing their opinions.
Objectives:
a) determine what influences student’s incoming opinions
about climate change
b) evaluate the effectiveness of passive vs. active learning
strategies in shaping post-course opinions about climate
change.
Methods - Surveys
- Surveys were given to two environmental science courses for nonmajors:
a) FW 203 Resource Ecology (class I taught Spring semester)
b) ISP 217 Water and the Environment
- An initial 15 question survey asked for student opinions on climate
change and what sources of information had the most influence
- A follow-up survey at the end of the semester asked the same
questions, but also included questions on science educational
background, opinions about science and scientists, and a brief
assessment of scientific literacy.
Methods - Surveys
Example survey questions:
- From what you have read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average
temperature of the earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades?
(Yes/No/I Don’t Know)
If yes, then:
a) Mostly due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels
b) Mostly because of natural patterns in the earth’s environment
c) Don’t know
- Rate on a scale from 1-5, how much influence each of the following sources
had on your opinion about climate change before taking this course
(1 = very influential, 5 = non influential)
a) What I’ve learned from previous classes
b) Opinions of friends and family…..
f) What I’ve seen from watching the news
Course Student Summary
FW 203
Resource
Ecology
ISP 217
Water & the
Environment
26
150
Science Majors
31%
0%
Ave. # HS Science Courses
4.3
3.6
Ave. # College Science Courses
5.1
1.4
Find Science Interesting
Think that scientists are working on behalf of public
100%
89%
73%
85%
Ave. nature of science/scientific literacy score
83%
77%
# of initial survey responses
23
110
# of successul follow-up survey responses
19
44
Course
# Students
Initial Survey Results
100%
FW 203 Incoming Opinion
PEW Survey of Adults
80%
No/Don't
know
60%
Yes
100%
100%
80%
80%
40%
20%
20%
0%
77%
47%
Is there global
warming?
and if
so, because of
humans?
60%
60%
40%
0%
ISP 217 Incoming Opinion
40%
20%
96%
74%
Is there global
warming?
and if so, because
of humans?
0%
78%
63%
Is there global
warming?
and if so, because
of humans?
Students taking these courses already have a higher acceptance rate of human-induced
global warming coming into the course than adults in the PEW survey.
Initial Survey Results
Very influential
1
Read in science/newspaper
articles
Not influential
2
3
4
5
FW 203
ISP 217
Learned from previous classes
Discussing the issue with other
people
Watching news on TV
Opinions of friends and family
Read on opinion page in
newspapers
Read on blogs, non-news
websites
Specific associations between climate change opinions and a number of co-factors
including, measures of scientific literacy, science background and opinions about
scientists, are still being analyzed.
Follow-up Survey Results
FW 203 Follow-up Opinion
ISP 217 Follow-up Opinion
100%
100%
80%
80%
60%
60%
40%
40%
20%
20%
0%
95%
89%
Is there global
warming?
and if so, because
of humans?
0%
83%
71%
Is there global
warming?
and if so, because
of humans?
The follow-up survey indicated that acceptance rates of human-induced global warming
increased to nearly 90% in the FW203 course and 71% in the ISP course.
Follow-up Survey Results
Very influential
1
Not influential
2
3
4
Learned from this course
FW 203
Read from science/newspaper
articles
Textbook/readings from this
course
ISP 217
Learned from previous courses
Discussions with others
Opinions of friends and family
Watching news on TV
Read on opinion pages
Read on blogs/non-news
websites
5
Follow-up Survey Results –
Active vs. Passive Learning
Very influential
1
Lecture material with data/graphs from
IPCC
Lectures from this course
Readings from the textbook
In class discussions
Climate change legislation group project
Jigsaw group instruction activity
Not influential
2
3
4
5
FW 203
Examples of Active Learning Group presentations on climate change solutions
Next Steps and Implications
 Analyze specific associations between climate change opinions and co-factors
including: measures of scientific literacy, science background and opinions
about scientists
- A preliminary analysis indicates that students appear less likely to
accept climate change if they don’t believe there is a consensus among
scientists.
 Emphasize hard-data in lectures and perhaps tie this into active learning
activities such as analyzing a CO2 or temperature data set from multiple
observatories.
Acknowledgements
 Kendra Cheruvelil (Mentor)
 FAST Steering Committee
 Fellow FAST students
QUESTIONS?