The growth in global climate protests by students challenge the status quo of policy makers and political leaders in mitigating the effects of climate change. These events suggest that young people are increasingly well-informed and aware of environmental issues and the impact of increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. To investigate how well-informed students are on the issue of climate change, we have used secondary data from the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) , a cross-national study involving 540,000 students in 72 OECD and partner countries to explore students’ responses. Our analysis of these data provides unparalleled insight into fifteen-year-old students’ self-reported awareness about greenhouse gases and how this varies by achievement, enjoyment of and interest in science, students’ socio-economic status and country of origin. We find there are substantial global variations in students’ awareness of greenhouse gases, which is independent of the international ranking of PISA scores. Measures of scientific literacy have the greatest association with students’ awareness about greenhouse gases, although enjoyment of science and interest in broad scientific topics suggests that school science courses that are rigorous in content and enjoyable for students prepare them to be well-informed citizens about climate change. Given the global interest in issues of equity, we argue that both schools and curriculum designers have the ability to cultivate enjoyment and interest to build positive attitudes, awareness and responsibility towards the environment alongside the development of scientific literacy.
Oliver, M., & Adkins, M. (in press). “Hot-headed” students? Scientific literacy, perceptions and awareness of climate change in 15-year olds across 54 countries. Energy Research and Social Science,