Asee peer logo

New project-based instructional modules improve climate change literacy (research to practice)

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Curriculum Development

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.928.1 - 23.928.11

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Susan E. Powers Clarkson University

visit author page

Susan E. Powers is the Spence Professor of Sustainable Environmental Systems and the Associate Director of Sustainability in the Institute for a Sustainable Environment at Clarkson University. Her education and scholarly work are integrated through research on sustainability in engineering and broader STEM fields. She has had several education oriented research grants, including the NSF Director’s Award as a Distinguished Teaching Scholar. Among these efforts, she has promoted and assessed the value of utilizing relevant project-based experiences to improve energy and climate change literacy of middle school, high school and college students.

visit author page


Jan DeWaters Clarkson University

visit author page

Jan DeWaters, PhD, PE is an instructor in the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering at Clarkson University. She teaches introductory courses on energy issues and energy systems, and is part of the development team for Clarkson’s new First Year Engineering/Interdisciplinary course called “Energy and Society.” Her research interests are in energy education and assessment.

visit author page

author page

Suresh Dhaniyala Clarkson University

author page

Mary Margaret Monica Small Clarkson University Office of Educational Partnerships

Download Paper |


New project-based instructional modules improve climate change literacy (research to practice)Our NASA-funded Project-Based Global Climate Change Education project has created anddisseminated several instructional modules for middle and high school teachers. The moduleswere developed by a team of teachers and university students and faculty. Fundamental to theseinquiry-based modules are questions about climate change or mitigation efforts, use of real-world data to explore historical climate changes, and review of IPCC model results to understandpredictions of further changes over the next century. NOAA, NASA, IPCC and DOE databasesare used extensively. The inquiry approach and core content included in these modules are wellaligned with the new Framework for K-12 Science Education. The climate change science inthese modules covers aspects of the disciplinary core subjects and most of the cross cuttingconcepts. Our approach for inquiry and analysis are also authentic ways to include theengineering practices included in the framework.The modules have been disseminated to teachers and students throughout the state. Half-day andfull-day workshops and week-long institutes in 2010 and 2011 provided opportunities tointroduce educators to the modules and instruct them in the basics of finding and usingtemperature data and identifying approaches to mitigate or adapt to climate change.Assessment has shown that our teacher professional development opportunities and project-based modules have been effective. A pre- and post-climate literacy survey administered to the23 teachers who attended our institutes showed statistically significant gains (p <<0.01). MS students also experienced significantgains in their climate-related self-efficacy (p=0.03), with no significant change in self-efficacyfor HS students and no change in either group on the behavioral subscale.The presentation and paper will include an introduction to the instructional modules and climateliteracy assessment instruments used in this research, as well the interpretation of specificpre/post changes in teacher and student responses on the climate literacy survey relative to thecontent of and approach used in the project-based modules.

Powers, S. E., & DeWaters, J., & Dhaniyala, S., & Small, M. M. M. (2013, June), New project-based instructional modules improve climate change literacy (research to practice) Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015