Posts Tagged 'education'

Digital technologies as support for learning about the marine environment: steps toward ocean literacy

Over the last century the ocean has been negatively impacted by human activities. In order to continue benefitting from marine services and goods, and the qualities afforded to human life through the ocean, citizens need to be informed about their relationship to the ocean and their own impact on it, that is they need to be ocean literate. Marine education is challenging, as most of the ocean is invisible to the human eye and marine processes are spread over large temporal and spatial scales. Digital technologies have the potential to support learning about the ocean as, virtually, they can take learners into the depths of the ocean and help them visualise complex interactions between different factors over time and space. This thesis consists of four studies scrutinising the role of different digital technologies for learning about marine environmental issues with an emphasis on communicative aspects, with two of the studies having a specific focus on ocean literacy. Study I is a literature review of the use of digital technologies in environmental education. Study II investigates the use of a marine research institute’s Facebook page aimed at supporting communication and learning about marine topics. Study III addresses the use of a carbon footprint calculator as an opportunity for students to reason about their greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, Study IV analyses the questions asked by students on an online platform where they engage in an asynchronous discussion with a scientist around the issues of ocean acidification. The four studies show how the use of digital technologies in environmental education can make the invisible visible, allowing engagement with and manipulation of the abstract features of the ocean. As demonstrated in my studies and as is evident from previous research in the multidisciplinary field of environmental science, digital technologies offer new means to make sense of and engage with global environmental issues. These technologies provide a field of action where users can experiment, make mistakes, get feedback and try again in ways that are different from paper-based learning activities. The findings from Studies II, III and IV also illustrate the challenges associated with these technologies, and it becomes obvious that the technical features of a tool do not determine the kind of interactions that will evolve from its use. The contexts in which a tool is used, and what the features mean to the users in situ, are key, and demonstrate the importance of studying not only the outcome of a learning practice but also the ongoing interaction between the users and the tool in a specific context. In conclusion, this thesis offers an overview of the range of impacts that digital technologies can have on the development of ocean literacy, as well as illustrating how technologies open up new ways of learning about marine environmental issues both inside and outside of school. It also provides an account of why ocean literacy is such an important skill for 21st-century citizens living in a rapidly changing world with significant challenges to the environment and our own habitats.

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Assessing public awareness of marine environmental threats and conservation efforts

Highlights

• Public engagement is key to conservation success.
• A well informed public can increase support in conservation efforts.
• Identified knowledge gaps within the public in marine conservation efforts.
• Value-Action Gap present within the public in Cornwall, UK.
• Improved, interdisciplinary science communication can increase public engagement.

Abstract

To successfully integrate and engage the general public into marine conservation decisions it is important that individuals are well informed. This study surveyed two sample groups, marine environmental professionals working in the UK, n = 61, and members of the public surveyed in Truro, Cornwall, UK, n = 71. Public awareness of marine environmental threats and conservation efforts was assessed through comparison with the, assumed well informed, professional sample. Findings suggest that the public are generally well informed of threats to the marine environment, but are significantly less well informed about marine conservation and management strategies. Furthermore, despite indicating concern for the marine environment, members of the public display significantly fewer pro-environmental behaviours than marine conservation professionals. Public knowledge (and action) gaps are discussed as well as how these may be minimised, including a more interdisciplinary and active approach to science communication and public engagement.

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Questions as indicators of ocean literacy: students’ online asynchronous discussion with a marine scientist

In this article, 61 high-school students learned about ocean acidification through a virtual laboratory followed by a virtual lecture and an asynchronous discussion with a marine scientist on an online platform: VoiceThread. This study focuses on the students’ development of ocean literacy when prompted to ask questions to the scientist. The students’ questions were thematically analysed to assess (1) the kind of reasoning that can be discerned as premises of the students’ questions and (2) what possibilities for enhancing ocean literacy emerge in this instructional activity. The results show how interacting with a scientist gives the students an entry point to the world of natural sciences with its complexity, uncertainty and choices that go beyond the idealised form in which natural sciences often are presented in school. This activity offers an affordable way of bringing marine science to school by providing extensive expertise from a marine scientist. Students get a chance to mobilise their pre-existing knowledge in the field of marine science. The holistic expertise of the marine scientist allows students to explore and reason around a very wide range of ideas and aspect of natural sciences that goes beyond the range offered by the school settings.

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Embedding probeware technology in the context of ocean acidification in elementary science methods courses

Research indicates that preservice teacher (PT) education programs can positively impact perceptions of scientific probeware use in K-8 environments. Despite the potential of probeware to improve science instruction and student engagement, its use in elementary education has been limited. Sixty-seven PT enrolled across three sections of an elementary science methods course participated in a mixed-methods study through which they utilized probeware in a thematic experience on ocean acidification. One-way repeated measures ANOVA of pre and post survey data measuring subscales of utility, ability, and intent to use probeware demonstrated a statistically significant increase with medium to large effect sizes for all subscales across all sections (p<0.01,η2p=0.384;p<0.001,η2p=0.517;p<0.001,η2p=0.214)p0.01ηp20.384p0.001ηp20.517p0.001ηp20.214. Analysis of reflective journals revealed over 60% felt the multiple capabilities (notably graphing) of probeware make it a useful classroom tool, and almost one-half believed that its use makes science more enjoyable and engaging. Mapping of the unitized data from the journals on the Next Generation Science Standards suggested that probeware use especially engages learners in planning and carrying out investigations and in analyzing and interpreting data. Journals also revealed that despite PT having prior experience with probeware in science courses, its use in their future elementary classroom is conditional on having a positive experience with probeware in a science methods course. Further, embedding a probeware experience in a unit on ocean acidification provides PT with strategies for addressing climate change and engaging in argument from evidence.

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Developing and testing an ocean acidification case study

Case studies are used to supplement knowledge discussed in class by encouraging students to seek out further information on issues. I developed a case study on ocean acidification for general education environmental science classes and beginning science majors. Ocean chemistry is not typically discussed in detail in college courses, therefore my goal was to explain ocean acidification with relevant examples taken from news articles and primary literature. Phase one of the case study introduced the topic using a general overview of ocean chemistry and pH. Phase two included historical industrialization data of CO2 emissions and pH values for analysis. The final phase provided an article on ocean acidification effects on a marine snail, the sea butterfly (Limacina helicina), to help students understand the potential biological implications for organisms. We have piloted this case study in two classes. Anecdotally, the feedback indicated that the case study engaged students, while expanding their knowledge of ocean acidification.

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Using demonstrations involving combustion and acid–base chemistry to show hydration of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and magnesium oxide and their relevance for environmental climate science

The nature of acidic and basic (alkaline) oxides can be easily illustrated via a series of three straightforward classroom demonstrations for high school and general chemistry courses. Properties of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and magnesium oxide are revealed inexpensively and safely. Additionally, the very different kinetics of hydration of SO2 (rapid) and CO2 (slow) are evident. The pH changes observed by use of universal indicator provide striking visual evidence that makes the concepts of acidic and basic oxides less abstract and more concrete than verbal or written descriptions alone. By using the MgO solution for the SO2 hydration reaction, one can mimic environmental interactions that lead to the neutralization of alkaline and acidic species. Interestingly, the SO2 and CO2 demonstrations can easily be adapted to environmental chemistry courses and especially the very relevant realm of climate change science. The difference in hydration rates explains why CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but SO2 is not listed as one. Variations of the CO2 hydration demonstration reveal the sensitivity of oceans to acidification by dissolved CO2 and the relationship of fossil fuel combustion to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Using demonstrations involving combustion and acid–base chemistry to show hydration of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and magnesium oxide and their relevance for environmental climate science’

Ocean acidification education: Educational resource analysis

This article aims to establish synergies between Science Education, Environmental Education and Marine Science (Campus do Mar), which has already begun, in order to provide ocean acidification education resources for Primary School teachers in pre-service training Global reports, based on emerging ocean acidification science, indicate that this process can be of the same magnitude as climate change; hence its importance to humanity’s future. The existing on-line resources have been located, an initial revision of them has been carried out, and a set of analysis categories has been proposed in order to subsequently design educational interventions connecting scientific knowledge, values and attitudes. These will lead to acquiring scientific competence and to acting in favour of the environment as well as developing critical thinking. A collaboration with other institutions has begun to influence non-formal education.

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