GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 138-4
Presentation Time: 2:15 PM


GOLD, Anne U., Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO, Boulder, CO 80309, MORRISON, Ariel, Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO, Boulder, CO 80309, SOLTIS, Nicholas A., Department of Geosciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, MCNEAL, Karen, Geosciences, Auburn University, 20, Auburn, AL 36830 and KAY, Jennifer E., CIRES, University of Colorado, Boulder, NY 80309,

Climate science and global climate change are complex topics that require system-level thinking and the application of general science concepts. Identifying effective instructional approaches for learning of climate science is a frontier research area with important broader impacts. Active learning techniques have shown to ensure engagement throughout the learning process and to increase learning outcomes. Conceptual changes that can be measured as lasting learning gains occur when both the cognitive and affective domain are engaged. Direct measurement of engagement and cognitive load can be conducted with galvanic skin sensors, a relatively new technique in science education.

We studied the engagement and learning gains of sixteen teachers throughout a one-day teacher professional development workshop focused on creative strategies to communicate about climate change. The workshop consisted of presentations about climate science, climate communication, storytelling and filmmaking, which were delivered using different pedagogical approaches. Presentations were interspersed with group exercises, clicker questions, videos and discussions. Using a pre-post test design we measure learning gains and attitude changes towards climate change among participating teachers. Teachers wore a hand sensor to measure galvanic skin conductance as a proxy of emotional engagement. We collected self-reflection data on engagement throughout the workshop as well as after the workshop through a reflection survey. Teachers further provided self-reflection on their skin conductance data. The qualitative data provide critical information to aid the interpretation of skin conductance readings. Results indicate that teachers were most engaged during group work, discussions and during video viewing as compared to lecture-style presentations. We discuss the benefits and limitations of using galvanic skin sensors to inform the design of teacher professional development opportunities.