Mind the Gap: A strategy for supporting understanding and engagement with climate change science.
Concerns within geography over public engagement and understanding has necessitated a new strategy to be developed that moves away from the top down approach to disseminating knowledge to a dialogue between expert and learner. The study aimed to identify how practice within eLearning could be applied within the context of climate change science to form a strategy that supports the public with understanding the holistic nature of the discipline that is relevant to the individual. The study also aimed to identify whether there is knowledge within the discipline that can be described as troublesome and act as a barrier to developing a deeper understanding. The study used a sample population of 94 students over a three-year period from an undergraduate module, at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford. This formal situation allowed a blended communication strategy to be evaluated within known parameters of a university module before being applied to the wider public. A coding analysis of the students’ weekly online journals identified the perceived key concepts whilst an assessment of the coded entries using the Biggs and Collis (1982) SOLO taxonomy illustrated their level of understanding. In conjunction with the weekly journals the students contributed to a group wiki website that over the course of the module developed into a representation of their collective understanding of the scientific debate. The taxonomy is applied to the wiki contributions allowing a comparison between the understanding within an individual forum (online journal) and a social forum (wiki). An end of module questionnaire evaluated the students’ perception of the learning process. The research showed that within the limitations of the study, eLearning could be used as a successful mechanism in a contextual model of communication with the role of the ‘expert’ a key factor in facilitating the learners’ experience.
- Theses