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Climate Change Essay Example

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Climate change has become such an important global issue that over the past two decades, leaders from around the world have gathered annually at the United Nations summit to develop plans to address it. Climate change refers to changes that entail the alteration of the composition of the global atmosphere (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 1992). For years, scientists have acknowledged the existence of global climate change and its associated risks such as longer droughts and more frequent extreme weather events (Lui et al., 2015). The rise of the global average temperature must slow down in order to mitigate the effects of climate change and decrease the production of heat-trapping gases. People need to change their beliefs and actions and prompt action is urgent to tackle that issue affecting the whole world. Education plays an essential role to impart the required knowledge to deal with global climate issues (Kappudewan et al., 2014). Education is essential to create awareness among young people (Castek and Dwyer,2018). In England, climate change is a cross-curricular topic taught in science and in geography at KS4. However, despite the increasing number of modules relating to climate change in the curriculum, students continue to hold misconceptions about this topic (Daniel et al., 2004). A misconception or alternate conception is an idea that is inconsistent with scientific theories and one that can prevent a conceptual understanding of the accepted scientific model (Campbell et al.,2016).

Meehan et al. (2018) argue that curricular materials have a considerable impact on the student learning about climate change, nevertheless, broad misconceptions about the topic could thwart the efforts to address this contemporary problem. Students have varied misconceptions about climate change that need to be corrected, and education remains the best way to do so. Whereas some students have a clear understanding of the causes of climate change (Chang et al., 2017), many secondary school students appear confused about the difference between weather and climate (Anderegg et al.,2010). Such misconceptions could be addressed with practical activities that will clarify the differences between some key aspects of climate change science. Herman et al. (2015) argue that a place-based science curriculum requiring students to measure and analyze local temperature, wind speed, and particle concentrations will facilitate students' understanding of concepts related to climate change, such as the composition of the atmosphere and the difference between weather and climate. Chi et al. (2011) suggest that naive knowledge is either a preconception or a misconception, and while a preconception can be easily corrected through education, a misconception is very robust because is made up of strong incorrect, incoherent, or incomplete 'truths. Chang and Pascua's (2015) study of secondary students in Singapore found that some participants thought that radioactive waste and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were major causes of climate change and that they can trigger tectonic plate movements, acid rain, and skin cancer. Tough, the frequency of these ideas declined considerably after a six-day course on the topic. Just as students'' prior conceptions can develop and shift on various topics (Campbell et al., 2016), it is possible to build or reshape students' initial ideas. Unfortunately, some students’ misconceptions persist and may be related to their limited exposure to classroom teaching about the various dimensions of climate change (Legates et al.,2013).

Although textbooks' contents can have a considerable impact on the students 'studies,

little research has analyzed how such materials have portrayed climate change (Beatty,2012). Teachers employ different textbooks in the classroom, but they are not necessarily the same quality. The contents of the textbooks may differ and the depth in which the topics are treated varies. This difference is noticeable across exam boards. Research suggests that there is a correlation between the quality of the textbook and the quality of the teaching, yet some researchers have found that materials used to teach climate change do not thoroughly address the issue (Monroe et al.,2017). A study in California of seven commonly used earth and environmental science textbooks found that about half of 18 major climate change concepts were absent from many of the texts (Bedford,2010). A study of over 50 earth science texts used in England and Wales discovers several misconceptions about climate change while the Government of Alberta produced a set of materials that portrays climate science as unsettled by calling it a product of ‘activist scientists’ (Lui et al.,2015). In classrooms we rely mainly on textbooks, so misleading information could substantially affect students' learning about this issue (Meehan et al.,2018).

Ultimately, students' misconceptions will be addressed in the classroom by the teachers. As specified by teacher standard 3, a teacher should demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge. Mansour (2013) suggests that teachers should have requisite climate change science knowledge and effectively transfer it through their lessons. Teachers play a critical role in educating future generations about climate change and they must ensure that they do not have any misconceptions about a topic before teaching it. A way to rectify this problem is to determine teachers’ conceptions and beliefs about fundamental climate change science ideas, and the extent they address those ideas in the classroom. Research indicates that including climate change content in teacher learning programs can enhance their preparation to teach about the topic (Beatty,2012). Although our findings suggest that teachers lack knowledge, more traditional university-level science courses are not required (Herman et al.,2015). A solution could be the incorporation in the teaching programs of multi-disciplinary science courses devoted to climate change based on pedagogical approaches. Importantly, these courses should address both the scientific concepts underpinning climate change and the nature of climate change science, and the historical, political, and social dimensions associated with climate change (Herman et al., 2015). Supposedly teachers' practice should appear to be disconnected from their beliefs, there is also much evidence that teachers' beliefs influence their teaching (Vincentnathan et al., 2016). Likewise, some evidence shows that science teachers' knowledge about climate change is inadequate, undoubtedly questioning the quality of their teaching (Kappudewan et al.,2014). Moreover, it has been demonstrated that teachers lack awareness of gaps in their own geographical knowledge (Arslan et al., 2012). This defect in geography is problematic because climate change science relies heavily on that subject. Teachers might be unable to correctly answer some questions, which might create a confidence crisis in the students. Bedford (2010) emphasizes the need to address teachers' information deficit in order to combat learners' preconceptions. If teachers are lacking more in-depth knowledge, it is possible that they will inadvertently reinforce, or even create new misconceptions for students (Darling-Hammond.,2009). Engaging teachers in the choice of effective pedagogical approaches only ensures that they hold ownership of and accountability for their student's learning process (Beatty,2012).

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During my placement A, lessons, audio-visuals, group discussions, articles, and research projects were the pedagogical tools used with year 11 to teach them climate change. Those different strategies were used to remove any misconceptions occurring. The main source of information for these students is digital, however, they do not necessarily research reliable sources on top of that, climate change is a current topic that is being debated constantly. Even among the scientific community, they do not always agree about the causes of climate change Furthermore, there is a lot of famous climate-skeptic, which complicate our task to remediate misconceptions because teenagers tend to identify with them. The lessons focused on the key scientific concepts of climate backed by scientific evidence. The group discussions were a great opportunity to learn about the different misconceptions amongst the students. The audio-visuals also had an important role because some students would start to change after seeing some images of the consequences of climate change. For example, the teacher showed a documentary about the destruction of glaciers in Canada over the years. Most of the students suggested that the statistics in the articles could be made up. Roychoudhury et al. (2017) posit that enriched understanding does not equate to the remediation of misconceptions, so teachers must be careful in introducing additive mechanisms in teaching. The teacher chose not to present contradictory articles about the climate change scientific theories because she argued that it will create more misconceptions for the students. In contrast, the research project was challenging because it reinforced some misconceptions of the students. While they were conducting their research for their project, some students came across some articles that were doubting some scientific theories about climate change. Even among the scientific community, they do not always agree on the causes of climate. Methods meant to enrich existing knowledge could even trigger the creation of misconceptions (Vosniadou and Verschaffel 2004). Also, some students have some religious beliefs making it harder for them to believe only in a scientific explanation of climate change.

The conceptual change approach is now a widely accepted method for facilitating students' learning of scientific concepts. Posner et al. (1982) suggested that for conceptual change to occur: the new concepts must be intelligible and plausible to them, and the new conception must be rewarding so that students can apply these to new situations. It is essential for teachers to employ appropriate and effective teaching strategies to encourage and support the remediation of misconceptions into scientifically more appropriate conception (Shepardson et al.,2012). Such teaching tools embedded in constructivist perspectives have frequently been deemed effective (Nussbaum et al.,2017). The substantial variations in conceptions and the reduction in misconceptions are probably due to the conceptual change-focused approach (Chang et al.,2017).

Conversely, some unconventional classroom experiences, such as reading refutation texts that explicitly address common misconceptions are preconized (Nussbaum et al., 2017) . Refutation text is a text structure that directly challenges readers' misconceptions by strategically presenting the alternative conception that will then be subsequently refuted with the correct information( Nussbaum et al., 2017) Engaging in climate change-related 'productive failure' prior to direct instruction can strengthen the accuracy of students' knowledge (Shepardson et al.,2012). In addition, only refutation text shows long-term effects when compared to other tools such as demonstrations, and cooperative discussions. Refutation text inspires metacognition because readers who hold a misconception are more likely to recognize discrepancies in their prior knowledge when confronted with an alternative explanation. (Chang et al.,2017) As it presses readers to compare their own ideas with new and different ideas. Cognitive dissonance and cognitive conflict are the triggers for the effects observed (Chi et al.,2011) Refutation text encourage metacognition (Chang et al., 2017). When students revert to their misconceptions, attenuation of effects is a key concern (Campbell et al., 2016). The backfire effect may also happen if students find support from the text for existing misconceptions. Monroe et al. (2017) conclude that refutation was not direct enough to be effective or that students' reading strategies were insufficient to facilitate conceptual change. Teacher guidance and support through refutation reading are beneficial to ensure long-term conceptual change (Chang et al.,2017).

Furthermore, another approach to teaching climate will be through science methods courses that focus on authentic local inquiry, questioning, and argumentation (Bedford,2010). This would facilitate the students using evidence-based reasoning to consider possible climate change mitigating solutions from socio-centric perspectives (Daniel et al.,2004). Such teaching approaches promote democratic values embedded in science education by encouraging civic and environmental stewardship needed for intricate scientific issues such as climate change (Castek and Dwyer, 2018).

Climate change can be taught thoroughly to students by inquiry rather than through transmission (Monroe et al.,2017); this method will enable students to make judgments on scientific controversial issues. Teaching climate change can be a considerate challenge for teachers and students. Teachers would need to invest considerable preparation time both on the subject matter and teaching materials (Bedford,2010). However, to ensure a sound transmission of accurate information, there is a need for science teachers whose knowledge and perceptions about climate change are in line with those of most scientists (Anderegg et al.,2010). Climate change can be a controversial topic as there are always conflicting theories about it, and students have enough misconceptions. Unless climate change is taught in a way that led to conceptual understanding, there will be no effect on the remediation of misconceptions. However, restricting teaching to the well-understood area might be a for science which will be as a body of absolute knowledge rather than a process of discovery (Legates et al.,2013). Climate change offers an opportunity to learn about a subject at the forefront of research with all the uncertainties this implies. Moving away from a transmission model to a real inquiry model of education should be the way going forward.

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