Posts Tagged 'education'

Application and testing of a framework for characterizing the quality of scientific reasoning in chemistry students’ writing on ocean acidification

Science educators recognize the need to teach scientific ways of knowing and reasoning in addition to scientific knowledge. However, characterizing and assessing scientific ways of knowing and reasoning is challenging. Writing-to-learn offers one way of eliciting and supporting students’ reasoning; further, writing serves to externalize and make traceable students’ reasoning. For this reason, it is a useful formative assessment of scientific reasoning. The utility hinges on researchers’ ability to understand what students can do and think from their writing. Given the challenges in assessing students’ writing, this research offers an adapted framework for assessing students’ scientific reasoning evident in writing. This work will introduce an adapted framework and show an application to general chemistry students’ argumentative writing about ocean acidification. We provide evidence that this framework can be used to validly estimate the quality of students’ reasoning. We argue that this framework offers some affordances that overcome challenges reported in the literature. It serves to define scientific reasoning in a domain-general way by breaking it down into its components, but in a way that can produce a composite score that tells us about how students reason using chemistry content. Further, the framework provides a way to characterize the scientific accuracy of students’ reasoning that can inform instructors’ treatment of alternative conceptions.

Continue reading ‘Application and testing of a framework for characterizing the quality of scientific reasoning in chemistry students’ writing on ocean acidification’

Citizen science observations reveal rapid, multi-decadal ecosystem changes in eastern Long Island Sound


• Citizen-science observations revealed rapid warming, acidification, and dissolved oxygen loss over the past 40 years in eastern Long Island Sound.
• Otter trawl catches showed significant decreases in overall species diversity and richness.
• Cold-water adapted species (American lobster, winter flounder) decreased, but warm-water adapted species (spider crabs) increased since 1997.


Long-term environmental records are among the most valuable assets for understanding the trajectory and consequences of climate change. Here we report on a newly recovered time-series from Project Oceanology, a non-profit ocean science organization serving New England schools (USA) since 1972. As part of its educational mission, Project Oceanology has routinely and consistently recorded water temperature, pH, and oxygen as well as invertebrate and fish abundance in nearshore waters of the Thames River estuary in eastern Long Island Sound (LIS). We digitized these long-term records to test for decadal trends in abiotic and biotic variables including shifts in species abundance, richness, and diversity. Consistent with previous studies, the data revealed an above-average warming rate of eastern LIS waters over the past four decades (+0.45 °C decade−1), a non-linear acidification trend twice the global average (−0.04 pH units decade−1), and a notable decline in whole water-column dissolved oxygenconcentrations (−0.29 mg L−1 decade−1). Trawl catches between 1997 and 2016 suggested a significant decrease in overall species diversity and richness, declines in cold-water adapted species such as American lobster (Homarus americanus), rock crab (Cancer irroratus), and winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus), but concurrent increases in the warm-water decapod Libinia emarginata (spider crab). Our study confirmed that Long Island Sound is a rapidly changing urban estuary, while demonstrating the value of long-term observations made by citizen-scientists, educators, and other stakeholders.

Continue reading ‘Citizen science observations reveal rapid, multi-decadal ecosystem changes in eastern Long Island Sound’

Exploring the “evil twin of global warming”: public understanding of ocean acidification in the United States

Ocean acidification (OA) occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolves into oceans. OA and climate change are both caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and many scientists consider them equally critical problems. We assess if preexisting beliefs, ideologies, value predispositions, and demographics affect OA perceptions among the U.S. public. Nearly 80% of respondents know little about OA, but concern increased following a message explaining OA and climate change, especially among females, liberals, and climate change believers. OA information seeking intentions and research support were also greater among females, liberals, and climate change believers. We discuss implications for efforts to increase OA public awareness.

Continue reading ‘Exploring the “evil twin of global warming”: public understanding of ocean acidification in the United States’

Students’ engagement with real-time graphs in CSCL settings: scrutinizing the role of teacher support

This paper reports on a study of teacher support in experimental computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) settings where students engage with graphs in real-time labs within the context of school science. Real-time labs are digital devices and software connected to student-controlled sensors or probes that can measure and visualize data graphically. The empirical setting was a science project about ocean acidification (OA) where lower secondary school students conducted measurements of the pH value of water with increased concentrations of CO2. The analytical focus is on student–teacher interaction during group-work activities where the students carried out, reviewed and reported on the real-time lab experiment. The analyses show that students needed additional support from the teacher in interpreting the real-time graphs and in making connections between the graphic representation, the practical undertakings of the experiment and the underlying scientific phenomena. Most importantly, the study demonstrates the complexity of teacher support in CSCL settings and how this type of support intersects with the support provided by digital resources, peer collaboration and applied instructional design.

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Immersive virtual reality field trips facilitate learning about climate change

Across four studies, two controlled lab experiments and two field studies, we tested the efficacy of immersive Virtual Reality (VR) as an education medium for teaching the consequences of climate change, particularly ocean acidification. Over 270 participants from four different learning settings experienced an immersive underwater world designed to show the process and effects of rising sea water acidity. In all of our investigations, after experiencing immersive VR people demonstrated knowledge gains or inquisitiveness about climate science and in some cases, displayed more positive attitudes toward the environment after comparing pre- and post-test assessments. The analyses also revealed a potential post-hoc mechanism for the learning effects, as the more that people explored the spatial learning environment, the more they demonstrated a change in knowledge about ocean acidification. This work is unique by showing distinct learning gains or an interest in learning across a variety of participants (high school, college students, adults), measures (learning gain scores, tracking data about movement in the virtual world, qualitative responses from classroom teachers), and content (multiple versions varying in length and content about climate change were tested). Our findings explicate the opportunity to use immersive VR for environmental education and to drive information-seeking about important social issues such as climate change.

Continue reading ‘Immersive virtual reality field trips facilitate learning about climate change’

Shifting the balance: engaging students in using a modeling tool to learn about ocean acidification

Modeling is one of the core scientific and engineering practices described in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Students are expected to construct, use, evaluate, and revise their models to make sense of phenomena or to find solutions to problems. Technology tools can support the development of students’ modeling practice when learning about environmental issues. This study investigates the incorporation of an online computational modeling tool in a middle school curricular unit focusing on ocean acidification. We present the advantages and challenges experienced by students and teachers while engaging in the unit and using the modeling tool. Our results indicate that integrating the modeling tool in the ocean acidification curricular unit facilitates students’ interest and engagement in environmental responsibility and focused students’ attention toward human involvement and impact on the environment. Students perceived the tool and the curricular unit to be relevant to their lives and important in promoting their content learning and modeling practice. However, students and teachers reported several challenges, mostly related to the complexity of using the modeling tool and working with the resulting graphs and charts. We discuss these advantages and challenges and suggest recommendations for supporting students’ modeling practice when learning about environmental issues.
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Tactile approaches to help learners visualize key processes in environmental health sciences

This chapter describes how hands-on models, or manipulatives, can be employed to improve the environmental health literacy of a variety of people, from science teachers and students in classrooms, to global audiences in large festival gatherings. Environmental health concepts can be quite abstract. For example, the effect of wood smoke on human lungs. People are concerned about the exposure to toxic molecules from the smoke, but find an explanation of the chemical process by which wood smoke harms human health too difficult to fully understand. Hands-on activities and models are a visual and tactile way of communicating essential molecular environmental health concepts in an inviting way without requiring a technical background.

The MIT Edgerton Center Molecule Set (hereafter referred to as the Molecule Set) is one example of an engaging model set that employs a simple design of differently colored LEGO® bricks to represent atoms. The set was designed to teach chemical principles to middle school students, and has evolved to include new topics with a more environmental health emphasis such as climate change and air pollution. The success of the Molecule Set and corresponding lessons stems from a unique collaboration between MIT scientists and the MIT Edgerton Center. This chapter highlights the Molecule Set and other relevant examples where hands-on models have been used to communicate abstract science concepts and improve environmental health literacy.

Continue reading ‘Tactile approaches to help learners visualize key processes in environmental health sciences’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book