Understanding and communicating climate change in metaphors

TitleUnderstanding and communicating climate change in metaphors
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsNiebert, K, Gropengiesser, H
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Pagination282 - 302
Date Published2013/06/01/
ISBN Number1350-4622
Keywordsanalogy, climate change, conceptions, educational reconstruction, experientialism, metaphor
AbstractAn analysis of students’ conceptions on climate change shows a great confusion on key aspects of global warming. Even after instruction students often hold conceptions that differ from scientists’ conceptions. Student’s conceptions on global warming were collected in a reanalysis of 24 studies on everyday concepts of global warming as well as in an own interview study with 35 18-year-old students from German grammar schools. Climate-scientists conceptions were analysed from textbooks and research reports in a literature study. All data were analysed by systematic metaphor analysis and qualitative content analysis. Experientialism as a theory of metaphor provided insight in the process of understanding. The analysis of conceptions by experientialism shows that students and scientists have different metaphorical conceptions of global warming – but both refer to the same schemata. These schemata in mind we categorised the conceptions of global warming. Hereby we identified different thinking patterns in students’ and scientists’ conceptions. Following the model of educational reconstruction we took the metaphorical conceptions as a starting point for the development of learning environments. By uncovering the – mostly unconsciously – employed schemata, we gave students access to their metaphorical conceptions and let them reflect on their mental models.