Promoting Critical Thinking to High School Students When Teaching About Climate Change Through a Participatory Approach

  • Laura BarrazaEmail author
  • Barbara Bodenhorn


New paradigms in science education are focused on moving towards a sustainable society, meaning redefining the educational practices and developing new methods in order to establish better relationships among individuals, groups, and the society. Being able to reflect upon developing new pedagogic strategies, that support collective action, is crucial to favour social change. Education in the twenty-first century should be based on critical and social theories of the environment and development, in order to link the prospects for sustainability to new forms of economy, social welfare, governance and education (Barraza et al., Environ Educ Res 9(3):347–357, 2003). The nature of contemporary knowledge and knowledge construction demands increasing collaboration and communication between once isolated disciplines. Curriculum integration can reduce curriculum fragmentation, promoting a better awareness of the way different forms of knowledge work and contribute to collaborative knowledge construction, stimulating a critical and a reflexive perspective in their learners. This chapter will focus on the pedagogic strategies used in a research project aiming to provide potential young scientists from rural communities of Mexico and Alaska with a unique opportunity to learn more about their own local knowledge whilst gaining a better understanding of how it intersects with global processes. The project has helped students make cognitive links between their scientific knowledge and life experience, and has established affective and behavioral links which have intensified the ways in which they value their environment, culture, traditions and communities (Tytler et al. 2010; Bodenhorn, Learning about environmental research in a context of climate change: an international scholastic interchange (pilot project). Final report. BASC (Barrow Arctic Science Consortium)). The conjunction of collaborative, interdisciplinary work and multiple pedagogic strategies applied in this specific educational practice has shown the potential of implementing research group initiatives in science education. We believe that educational approaches that create “spaces” for students to work together towards a goal defined as a common good, can contribute significantly to develop effective science programs in schools.


Critical Thinking Environmental Education Knowledge Construction Sustainable Society Sociocultural Perspective 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and EducationDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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