Student understanding of the Ocean/Atmosphere/Climate/Environment

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Student understanding of the Ocean/Atmosphere/ Climate/Environment -- Discussion  

- Starts out with hydrological/atmospheric cycle in environmental intro course. How do different components relate to each other. System-thinking is challenging


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Students have a single culprit when students come to class - single issue or cause for environmental course (eg. Big Oil, democratic party), philosophical problem. Prior knowledge, misconceptions, elementary topics.


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Students want to try to understand that A causes B or by C - students want linear and simple answers. One cause for one phenomenon


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Teaching non-STEM students - there are many misconceptions, especially around climate. To address this instructor gave students 10 misconceptions and had to discuss them. Encourage critical thinking. - She used the Heartland Institute brochure.


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Possibly better way to teach this is to start with fact and then give the misconceptions (using John Cook's lesson)


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Other teaching approach: Program Understanding Global Change from Berkeley to address the misconceptions that students come into class with.


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Other teaching approach: Use anecdotes in teaching - not just throw data at students. Make it human.


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For non-science majors understanding the process of science is critical. Students find reliable source of data. Information literacy.


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Challenge: Understanding the process of numerical models, especially for non science majors. Students may even think about physical models that scientists are building.


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Many courses don't have science majors so they don't even have time to get into numerical models. Instructor touches on what the model includes but not too much detail. Important to identify the audience with respect to models: for majors it is about the numerical models.


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Challenge: Understanding uncertainty, hard for lay person to understand uncertainty. To many it is not the concept of science that there is uncertainty in the results. Not one right answer - how can you call this science.


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picking and choosing details of the numerical model in the classes of non-science majors is challenging for educators which makes it challenging for the students to grapple the modeling concept


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Falsifiability - we have only tested our questions within a limited environment.


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Students have heard about climate change and its negative impacts, they may be shut down because it is depressing. Instructors should teach also the optimism and not just the gloom-and-doom scenarios. Not always bad news. "Case for climate optimism" (Al Gore) - do we need to change, can we change, will we change?
Teaching around values - what are the shared values in the class. National survey instruments are out there (6 Americas) - could be used to assess students values they bring to class.


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Strong attachment to values in students - more data and more scientific explanation is not helping the learning. A denier will not learn from facts.

If instructors look at climate change from environmental justice perspective - shared values, that may be very helpful to teach about climate change.


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misconceptions hailed from prior beliefs makes it harder for students to get convinced by simply the explanations. Connections with evidences need to be incorporated in teaching.


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Instructors wonders if what has been done has had an effect on the public. What seems missing are the modules that include the findings from the GER community about effectively teaching these topics. GER-based resources accessible to full instructional science community.


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Build connections with other community that is using the findings from climate science in their work, eg. commissioners, army


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Instructors with science background would need help to teach social science aspects.


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Lack of community efforts to develop teaching modules that are applicable in classroom teaching from the output of researches specifically in climate change science


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Need additional resources that are effective and accessible.


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Assessing prior to instructions - are students after instructions able to see gray areas in the field, are students able to do non-linear thinking


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