Supporting Secondary Students’ Understanding of Earth’s Climate System and Global Climate Change Using EzGCM: A Cross-Sectional Study

Global climate change (GCC) is one of the greatest challenges of our age and a highly significant socio-scientific issue (SSI). Developing secondary students’ understanding about the Earth’s climate and GCC is critical for empowering future citizens and a key focus of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013). In this cross-sectional study, we investigated secondary students’ evidence-based reasoning about GCC grounded in a curricular intervention involving the use of a data-driven, computer-based global climate model—EzGCM—over 3 years with four teachers who adapted the module in their own courses—two secondary science teachers during the Spring of 2018 (year 1), and all four teachers during the Fall of 2018 (year 2) and the Fall of 2019 (year 3). Our research questions were: (i) to what extent has the EzGCM-based curriculum supported students’ conceptual understanding about Earth’s climate and GCC over time? and (ii) in what ways do EzGCM features enhance students’ evidence-based reasoning about Earth’s climate system and GCC? We evaluated students’ evidence-based learning using: (i) pre/post concept inventory and (ii) students’ interviews. Results from the quantitative analyses of a pre- and post-module assessment indicated that student learning gains increased mainly in the third year. Results from the qualitative analysis of student interviews showed that EzGCM helped students use the different graphic outcomes to develop a more robust understanding of the temporal and spatial changes in surface air temperature and CO2, the trends in and relationships between different climate variables, and temperature anomalies. Overall, these results highlight affordances of the EzGCM-based curriculum to support students’ reasoning about Earth’s climate and GCC.

Mostacedo-Marasovic, S-J., Olsen, A. A., & Forbes, C. T. (2023). Supporting secondary students’ understanding of Earth’s climate system and global climate change using EzGCM: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Science Education and Technology.