Educational Research about Climate Change and Middle and High School Students. An International review of Methodological Approaches

  • Antonio García Vinuesa
  • José Antonio Caride Gómez
  • Pablo Ángel Meira Cartea


In the scope of educational research there are studies focused on anthropogenic climate change (CC) with various population universes: college or high education students (Burkholder, Devereaux, Grady, Solitro, & Mooney, 2017), middle and high school (MHS) students (Tasquier & Pongiglione 2017), primary education students (Devine‐Wright,  Devine‐Wright,  & Fleming, 2004) or even teachers (Seow, & Ho, 2016). Also, there are different conceptual approaches and frameworks from which the interpretative and methodological work for researching comes from. Additionally, there are studies that investigate social representations (Flores 2018), that explore knowledge and misconceptions (Shepardson, Roychoudhury, Hirsch, Niyogi, & Top, 2014), or those that identify specific audiences to adjust the most effective communication strategies (Maibach, Roser-Renouf, & Leiserowitz, 2009). We could also add those researches that try to set up the basis of a Climate Change Education (Allison, 2012), and the ones that take a stance on climate literacy as a key skill to face the climate crisis (Azevedo & Marques, 2017). Some others focus on identifying the most effective educational (Monroe, Plate, Oxarart, Bowers, & Chaves, 2017) or communicative strategies (Wibeck 2014) in order to offer educational guidelines. A systematic review has been conducted in order to explore how CC has been investigated in relation to MHS students. This method is useful to review and synthesizes results from several studies (Oliver y Tripney, 2017) in order to collect evidences. Thus, this systematic review aims to answer the next question: How perception/representation/knowledge of CC has been investigated in relation to MHS students? That is, which frameworks, methodological designs and research technics have been employed for that purpose?

According to Petticrew y Roberts (2008) the task started with a manual search in systematic reviews already published. This task offered some similar studies but none of them focused specifically on MHS students (Bozdoğan, 2011; Hornsey, Harris, Bain, & Fielding, 2016; Monroe et al., 2017; Wibeck, 2014). The next step consisted on establishing the search criteria in order to obtain significative sample of studies convergent to the researching question:

  • Research scope: CC and MHS students (12 -18 aged).
  • Period[1]: published studies between 1950 y 2017.
  • Thesaurus: research strategies have been described by the following keywords: climate change; global warming; estudiantes; students; secundaria; secondary; instituto; middle school; high school; alfabetización climática; climate literacy.
  • Language: papers in English, Spanish, Galician and Portuguese have been included.
  • Sources: Scopus, Web of Science, Dialnet, Redalyc and Scielo databases were used as formal sources. References from other studies and colleagues were used as informal sources.

[1]  Research conducted between e17th of October and 20th of December 2017. From Universidade de Santiago de Compostela (USC) net with access to data bases offered by Fundación Española de Ciencia y Tecnología (FECYT).