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date: 23 April 2017

Student Perceptions, Textbook Presentations, and Communicating About Climate Change in the Classroom

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. Please check back later for the full article.

Although future generations—starting with today’s teenagers—will bear the brunt of negative effects related to climate change, research suggests that they have little concern about climate change, nor much intention to take action to mitigate its impacts. One common explanation for this indifference and inaction is lack of scientific knowledge. It is often said that young people do not understand the science; therefore, they are not concerned. Indeed, in science education research, numerous studies catalogue the many misunderstandings students have about climate science. However, this knowledge-deficit perspective is not particularly informative in charting a path forward. This path is important, as climate science will be taught in more depth as states adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) within the next few years. How do we go about creating the educational experiences that students need to be able to achieve climate science literacy and to feel as if they could take action? A start is to consider the literature base in communication, specifically about framing, to identify potentially more effective ways to craft personally relevant and empowering messages for students within their classrooms.