Investigating Preservice Elementary Science Teachers’ Understanding of Climate Change from a Computational Thinking Systems Perspective
Wayne Breslyn 1 * , J. Randy McGinnis 1
More Detail
1 University of Maryland, College Park, 2226 Benjamin Building, College Park, MD 20742, USA* Corresponding Author


There is a need to approach environmental education (EE) topics, such as climate change, with a framework that productively reflects its inherent complexity. This study investigates how computational thinking (CT), specifically systems thinking (ST), may prepare educators to teach climate change. As scientists increasingly rely on computational techniques in their studies of complex EE topics, it is incumbent on science education to provide learners with computational thinking opportunities. We investigated how elementary preservice teachers (PSTs) in a science methods course (N=35) adapted a curricular resource on the climate change topic of sea level rise to integrate the CT practice of ST. Changes in their thinking were analyzed. Findings suggest that PSTs prior to instruction held a limited understanding of climate systems, often conflating weather and climate. Post instruction, their thinking expanded to consider the relationships between carbon dioxide, global warming, ice melt, and sea level rise. Further, many were able to describe these systems in a future EE teaching activity for young learners. A major implication was the need to develop a continuum of CT practices for elementary educators, with an emphasis on ST, for complex environmental education topics, that could frame their pedagogical thinking for climate change education.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

EURASIA J Math Sci Tech Ed, Volume 15, Issue 6, June 2019, Article No: em1696

Publication date: 31 Jan 2019

Article Views: 2814

Article Downloads: 1326

Open Access References How to cite this article