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Institute of Education

Understanding Climate Change

Climate change is already a reality for us: worsening floods and storms are interpreted as results of climate change, Nobel Prizes are given for the fight against climate change, and the fear of global warming is increasing. Worries about a change in the climate seem big. Yet while we can see the impacts of and responses to climate change, the causative natural phenomena that lead to it are not always clear or easy to understand.

This study of climate change raises elicits and analysesses  students’ and scientists’ conceptions about global warming - with surprising results. While students often have different ideas about climate change than scientists, both groups use the same experiences to understand the carbon cycle and the greenhouse effect.

This phenomenon is used to develop educationally reconstructed learning environments on climate change, which follow the principle of "hands on your mind's models".  Teaching experiments demonstrate that students can understand climate change by questioning the origins of their conceptions.

The study provides answers to the question of how we think about global warming. It also provides practical insights into which experiments, stories, and metaphors are appropriate for successfully conveying information about global warming.

The results of the research project can be viewed online here or purchased as a book (german only)