This project is developing twelve climate change activities for use by first-year college students in chemistry courses designed for science majors. The project has two primary objectives: 1) to create a set of classroom activities for teaching climate change and the underlying chemistry and 2) to use the analysis of student discourse to inform revisions of the activities so that they promote both the development of scientific concepts and substantive discussion of related socio-economic and environmental issues. The climate change activities are being developed using the POGIL model, which uses a learning cycle designed to guide students from concept exploration to concept understanding. A five-member authoring team meets during a summer workshop to write the activities. All twelve activities are tested in classrooms at several different institutions and in a variety of courses. The feedback from the initial implementations informs revisions at a second authoring workshop the following summer. A second year of classroom testing provides additional feedback for another cycle of refinement. Throughout the project, classrooms are videotaped to investigate student discussions using the Toulmin argumentation framework (claims, data, and warrants, plus backings and/or rebuttals). The information obtained from this analysis is used to refine the activities to better support robust student argumentation in the context of both scientific claims and socio-scientific claims.

Intellectual Merit. Enhancing climate change education is an important national goal. The high-impact pedagogical strategy involving group-based learning, frequent feedback, and time on task is being linked with a significant body of real-world content on climate change through a process of learning-in-context. The analysis of video recordings ensures that the curricular products promote a key aspect of scientific literacy.

Broader Impact. Climate change education is a current priority both of the National Science Foundation and of the nation. The activities are useful to engage first-year students in learning about climate change using high-impact classroom practices that foster student learning. The project is positioned to draw on the resources of existing national networks, including the POGIL community ( to widely disseminate the results. The inclusion of a community college faculty member on the project team enhances the chances that the materials are meeting the needs of chemistry courses being taught in these institutions.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Dawn Rickey
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Drexel University
United States
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