An investigation of student engagement in a global warming debate

Diane M. Schweizer, Gregory J. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This study investigates how using debate as a pedagogical tool for addressing earth system science concepts can promote active student learning, present a realistic and dynamic view of science, and provide a mechanism for integrating the scientific, political and social dimensions of global environmental change. Using global warming as an example of earth system science, we consider how participation in debate provides an avenue for engaging students in science. Our investigation draws from studies of school science focusing on the use of argument as a pedagogical tool and examines how students make use of observationally-based climatic data sets when debating the cause of global warming. We found that, when crafting their arguments, students used observational data sets in four ways: 1) to support their central argument; 2) to negate the central argument of the opposing side; 3) to present challenges to the opposing side; and 4) to raise new scientific questions. We also found that students also used climatic data sets when discussing the social and political dimensions of global warming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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