THE ROLE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE NGSS AND CONCEPTIONS OF MIDDLE-SCHOOL STUDENTS OF WEATHER AND CLIMATE
Confusion between the concepts of weather and climate need to be better understood as well as the impact of teacher’s professional development on student knowledge. In an effort to improve student understanding, science teachers were recruited to participate in a year-long NSF-funded ITEST program called From Learning to Research Project, part of The GLOBE Program’s Student Climate Research Campaign. Teachers participated in a week long professional development workshop in the summer of 2012 and then returned to their classrooms where students took the pre-test at the beginning of the academic year and the post-test (with identical questions) at the end of the academic year. This project required that the students participate in the collection and analysis of data to develop their understanding about climate change through authentic research experiences.
Researchers compared students’ performance on a pre-test (N=731) with questions relating to climate, weather and the greenhouse effect with that of a posttest (N=481) using multiple linear regression. Improvement was seen overall for the entire survey; however, improvement was not evident in all questions, particularly those regarding the greenhouse effect. Analysis of open-ended student responses using a scoring rubric and word clouds of word usages reveals that common misconceptions related to the greenhouse effect persist. The quality of teacher’s projects accounts for some site differences in student performance. In general, students performed better on the assessments at the end of the year than at the beginning.