Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 147–164 | Cite as

Examining Educational Climate Change Technology: How Group Inquiry Work with Realistic Scientific Technology Alters Classroom Learning

  • Drew Bush
  • Renee Sieber
  • Gale Seiler
  • Mark Chandler


This study with 79 students in Montreal, Quebec, compared the educational use of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) global climate model (GCM) to climate education technologies developed for classroom use that included simpler interfaces and processes. The goal was to show how differing climate education technologies succeed and fail at getting students to evolve in their understanding of anthropogenic global climate change (AGCC). Many available climate education technologies aim to convey key AGCC concepts or Earth systems processes; the educational GCM used here aims to teach students the methods and processes of global climate modeling. We hypothesized that challenges to learning about AGCC make authentic technology-enabled inquiry important in developing accurate understandings of not just the issue but how scientists research it. The goal was to determine if student learning trajectories differed between the comparison and treatment groups based on whether each climate education technology allowed authentic scientific research. We trace learning trajectories using pre/post exams, practice quizzes, and written student reflections. To examine the reasons for differing learning trajectories, we discuss student pre/post questionnaires, student exit interviews, and 535 min of recorded classroom video. Students who worked with a GCM demonstrated learning trajectories with larger gains, higher levels of engagement, and a better idea of how climate scientists conduct research. Students who worked with simpler climate education technologies scored lower in the course because of lower levels of engagement with inquiry processes that were perceived to not actually resemble the work of climate scientists.


Climate change Education Inquiry-based learning Global climate modeling 



This research was supported by a McGill University Richard H. Tomlinson Fellowship in University Science Teaching.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study, pre-tests, and pilot research were each approved by the appropriate McGill University Research Ethics Board (File Numbers 347-0214, 288-0113, and 321-0312). Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants in the study.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10956_2017_9714_MOESM1_ESM.docx (460 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 460 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Drew Bush
    • 1
    • 2
  • Renee Sieber
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gale Seiler
    • 3
  • Mark Chandler
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of GeographyMcGill UniversityQCCanada
  2. 2.McGill School of EnvironmentMcGill UniversityQCCanada
  3. 3.School of EducationIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  4. 4.Center for Climate Systems ResearchColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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