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Students least informed about environmental science are most optimistic
Date:4/22/2009

and asked students what information in the graphs supported a relationship between temperatures and carbon dioxide emissions.

Seventeen percent of American students demonstrated the highest level of proficiency (referred to as Level A), indicating that they could consistently identify, explain and apply scientific knowledge to a variety of environmental topics. They also demonstrated the ability to link different information sources and explanations and use evidence from those sources to justify decisions about environmental issues. At the other end of the spectrum, 42 percent of American students performed at or below Level D. Students at this level showed difficulties answering questions containing scientific information relevant to basic environmental phenomena or issues.

In addition to gauging students' level of optimism about the environment, the portion of PISA dealing with attitudes about the environment assessed students' familiarity with and sense of responsibility for environmental issues. Green at 15? showed that the vast majority of students were familiar with issues including air pollution, energy shortages and extinction of plants and animals. For most countries, there was no strong association between the students' sense of responsibility for environmental issues and their proficiency in environmental science.

In another finding, 55 percent of participating U.S. schools had a specific course in environmental science, compared with 21 percent of such courses in schools in OECD member countries. In other countries this content is sometimes captured in geography class, a less common course in the U.S. According to Baker, these are good results for environmental educators to consider here in the U.S.

"The publication of this new study should inform school systems about how well they are doing in addressing important scientific issues about our earth and its environment," said Larry Suter, program manager at the Nation
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Contact: Maria C. Zacharias
mzachari@nsf.gov
703-292-8454
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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