GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 254-3
Presentation Time: 8:40 AM


ANDERSON, Brendan M., Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumanburg Road, Ithaca, WV 14850; Geology and Geography, West Virginia University, 98 Beechurst Ave, Brooks Hall, Morgantown, WV 26505, HERLEMAN, Katherine C., Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department, Cornell University, 2122 Snee Hall, Ithaca, NY 14850, EBEY, Chris, Lab Sciences, Jefferson Community College, 1220 Coffeen Street, Watertown, NY 13601 and DUGGAN-HAAS, Don, PRI and its Museum of the Earth, 92 South Dr, Amherst, NY 14226

Bill Nye had an ambitious goal – help save the world from apathy regarding climate change through education of young adults in a twenty-minute internet television program. We sought to evaluate the effectiveness of this program as a tool for civic science literacy. We evaluated both knowledge outcomes, such awareness of impacts on society and the natural environment, and affective outcomes, such as viewer perceptions of how climate change might impact them personally. We also evaluated prior knowledge of ocean acidification (OA) and the effect of the program on awareness of “the other CO2 problem”.

Our study population consisted of students taking non-majors science courses at a large private research university and a small community college. Volunteers participated in a Qualtrics survey anonymously prior to and after viewing the climate science episode of “Bill Nye Saves the World” in a classroom environment. The survey instrument queried demographic information, followed by a pre-test including both open response questions and questions measured on Likert-like scales. The post-test also included questions concerning respondent perceptions of the program as well as a self-evaluation of how their opinions may have changed. Free-response questions were evaluated for common themes, with knowledge questions coded numerically.

Pre-exposure understanding of OA was poor, with many respondents indicating they had not previously heard the term and significantly lower scores compared to other knowledge questions. Knowledge question scores did not change significantly after viewing, except for OA. Most participants indicated that they had not changed their opinions, with a substantial minority indicating increased concern, and a small fraction indicating they were less concerned. These assessments did not vary significantly by political affiliation. There were significant increases observed in the perception of scientific consensus and the number of expected impacts students were able to list (Wilcoxon, p<0.0001).