Teaching Uncertainty: The Case of Climate Change

Hall, Brendan Michael (2010) Teaching Uncertainty: The Case of Climate Change. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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Abstract

The concept of uncertainty plays a significant role in higher education in the 21st century. However; the pedagogy of uncertainty tends to focus on ontology and the feelings of uncertainty experienced by teachers and students, as opposed to treating it as an epistemological concept. This research considers the epistemology of uncertainty in the context of climate change and investigates how it is conceptualised and taught by academics working in the subject area. The theoretical frameworks of troublesome knowledge and threshold concepts are employed to aid the characterisation of uncertainty as a concept in higher education. Following a methodology based on grounded theory, interviews were undertaken with 10 academics involved in teaching climate change. The interview data was analysed and categorised according to the interview participants' conceptions of uncertainty and the implications for teaching uncertainty. The research found that uncertainty in the context of climate change is a complex and multivariate concept and this was reflected in the interview data, with many of the participants holding several different conceptions of uncertainty simultaneously. In terms of teaching uncertainty, the concept also aligns with the theoretical frameworks, in that it is troublesome knowledge and a threshold concept in the context of climate change, with broader implications as an interdisciplinary threshold concept arising from the difficulty encountered when attempting to integrate diverse conceptions of uncertainty. Maturity and personal development were also found to play a role in teaching uncertainty. Several strategies and approaches to teaching uncertainty are discussed, and a critical reflection on the pedagogy of uncertainty is offered. The critical reflection proposes a pedagogy for teaching uncertainty whereby the concept is situated centrally in the higher education curriculum and taught explicitly through student-centred approaches that take into account issues of personal development and variation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Uncertainty; Climatic change; Teaching, Higher Education;
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education
Depositing User: Phil Davis
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2016 17:10
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2016 09:56
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/3205

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