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How Do High School Students Perceive Global Climatic Change: What Are Its Manifestations? What Are Its Origins? What Corrective Action Can Be Taken?

Edward Boyes, David Chuckran and Martin Stanisstreet
Journal of Science Education and Technology
Vol. 2, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 541-557
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40186323
Page Count: 17
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How Do High School Students Perceive Global Climatic Change: What Are Its Manifestations? What Are Its Origins? What Corrective Action Can Be Taken?
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Abstract

High school students' ideas about the greenhouse effect and global warming have been sought using a closed-form questionnaire. The students, 702 in all, ranged from grades 5 to 10 across a spectrum of schools, and the incidence of a number of ideas, and the strength with which they are held, have been quantified. Using factor analysis, common themes within students' thinking have been identified; from the nature of the questions posed, and the way in which these ideas are grouped, it appears possible to key into the conceptualization of this phenomenon in the minds of the students. The most general conclusion to be drawn from these results is that many students appear to confuse different major environmental problems. In particular, logical and apparently consistent models are held for the confusion between global warming and ozone-layer depletion. In a similar, but less dramatic fashion, there is a linking to radioactive contamination, acid rain, and even global biodiversity reduction. Within the minds of students, the origins of one problem are confounded with the origins of the others, the repercussions of one are confused with the repercussions of the others, and any environmentally friendly action might be said to help any environmental problem.

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