International perspectives on the efficacy of teaching climate change using a NASA global climate model

Authors: Drew Bush*, McGill University, Renee Sieber, McGill University, Linda Sohl, NASA-GISS, Columbia University, Mark Chandler, Center for Climate Systems Research, NASA-GISS, Columbia University
Topics: Geography Education, Earth Science, Higher Education
Keywords: education, climate change, global climate models, implementation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bayside B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Geoscience educators require innovative instructional approaches and educational technologies to overcome cultural barriers to student learning about climate change. Since 2005, over 150 educational institutions internationally have utilized the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) Educational Global Climate Model (EdGCM) to teach students the processes of global climate modeling. While work with an authentic scientific instrument has proved more effective than other simple online climate education technologies, instructors implementing this climate educational technology report a variety of successes and pitfalls. We examined responses to a 16-question online survey completed by 115 respondents from secondary schools and universities internationally. Responses to multiple-choice, Likert scale and open-answer questions indicated that of the EdGCM users who used the model in their classroom (n=59), a majority found it improved student learning “Very Much” or “Much” (0.58%). Other educators said the model only improved learning “Somewhat” (0.20%), “A Little” (0.03%) or “Not At All” (0.02%) or marked “Other” (0.17%). Despite noting that the program has “regular” software glitches, an even larger majority said they would recommend using EdGCM to teach climate change to a colleague (0.90% of n=96). This work indicates geoscience educators are willing to use a model such as EdGCM in their classroom to reinforce climate change concepts they were already teaching, give students a chance to conduct their own hands-on research, or to explore climate change through inquiry. We conclude with the implications for developers of climate education technologies and educators using them in their classrooms.

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