Concepts for socio-critical and problem-oriented science education to foster evaluation competence in the domain of climate change

University of Bremen Germany

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ingo Eilks

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Within the interdisciplinary project “Climate Change before the Court”, funded by the German Environmental Fund, teaching material was developed in the four subjects Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Politics concerning the topic Climate Change for lower secondary school. As development design the framework of Participatory Action Research was used, where teachers and science educators work together to develop new material in a cyclic process of development, testing, evaluation and improvement. Every teaching sequence focusses on the fostering of evaluation competence as pointed out in the German Educational Standards. First of all the attitude of German science teachers towards the topic Climate Change was investigated by semi-structures interviews. The teaching material, developed within the project, was tested in five classes for each of the four subjects. Using the method of group discussion, the participating students were asked for their ideas about Climate Change and for the possible stakeholders responsible respectively their personal responsibility before and after the learning sequence. Furthermore they had to evaluate a given dilemma situation in both group discussion to get an idea of their evaluation competence. Since all four subjects worked with role-plays as a quite unconventional method for science education a questionnaire was used to ask the students for their opinion about the learning process and the methods used.

The results of the different studies show that German science teachers tend to consider Climate Change as a very important topic for students but there is no common sense about the class or the subject were it should be taught. The analysis of the group discussion showed that students already knew a lot before the learning sequence and that the developed material was able to increase that knowledge. Concerning the aspect of evaluation competence the group discussions led to the development of two evaluation grids which focus on the quality of the content on the one hand and on the complexity of the students’ arguments on the other hand. Those grids show that the participating students have a rather low level regarding their evaluation competence in respect to the German Educational Standards. Looking at the questionnaires it became quite clear that the students liked the teaching methods used in the teaching material and the socio-critical view on scientific questions. Furthermore the students had the subjective sense of having learned new aspects about Climate Change and that they became contemplative about the topic.

The major findings from the thesis are published in the following journal articles


Feierabend, T., & Eilks, I. (2010). Raising students’ perception of the relevance of science teaching and promoting communication and evaluation capabilities using authentic and controversial socio-scientific issues in the framework of climate change. Science Education International, 21, 176-196.

Feierabend, T., Jokmin, S., & Eilks, I. (2011). Chemistry teachers’ views on teaching ‘Climate Change’ – An interview case study from research-oriented learning in teacher education. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 11, 85-91.

Feierabend, T., & Eilks, I. (2011). Innovating science teaching by Participatory Action Research – Reflections from an interdisciplinary project on curriculum development in the field of climate change. Centre for Educational Policy Studies Journal, 1, 93-112.

Feierabend, T., & Eilks, I. (2011). Teaching the societal dimension of chemistry along a socio-critical and problem-oriented lesson plan on the use of bioethanol. Journal of Chemical Education, 88, 1250–1256.

Feierabend, T., Stuckey, M., Nienaber, S., & Eilks, I. (2012). Two approaches for analyzing students’ competence of ‘evaluation’ in group discussions about climate change. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 7, 581-598.


Feierabend, T., & Eilks, I. (2009). Bioethanol – Bewertungs- und Kommunikationskompetenz schulen in einem gesellschaftskritisch-problemorientierten Chemieunterricht. Der Mathematische und Naturwissenschaftliche Unterricht, 62, 92-97.

Eilks, I., Feierabend, T., Hössle, C., Höttecke, D., Menthe, J., Mrochen, M., & Oelgeklaus, H. (2011). Bewerten Lernen und Klimawandel in vier Fächern – Erste Einblicke in das Projekt „Der Klimawandel vor Gericht“ (Teil 1). Der Mathematische und Naturwissenschaftliche Unterricht, 64, 7-11.

Eilks, I., Feierabend, T., Hössle, C., Höttecke, D., Kellinghaus, H., Menthe, J., Mrochen, M., & Oelgeklaus, H. (2011). Bewerten Lernen und Klimawandel in vier Fächern – Erste Einblicke in das Projekt „Der Klimawandel vor Gericht“ (Teil 2). Der Mathematische und Naturwissenschaftliche Unterricht, 64, 71-76.

Menthe, J., Feierabend, T., & Eilks I. (2012). Klimawandel zwischen chemischen und fächerübergreifenden Betrachtungen. Naturwissenschaften im Unterricht Chemie, 23 (128), 20-25.

Belova, N., Feierabend, T., Stuckey, M., Marks, R., Menthe, J., & Eilks, I. (2012). Die Schüler über den Klimawandel diskutieren lassen – Geht das überhaupt?. Naturwissenschaften im Unterricht Chemie, 23 (128), 26-31.

Thesis (cumulative thesis based on articles in English and German language)

Feierabend, T. (2011). Konzeptionen für einen gesellschaftskritisch-problemorientierten naturwissenschaftlichen Unterricht zum Bereich Bewertungskompetenz im Umfeld des Klimawandels. Dissertation, University of Bremen, Germany.


Dr. Timo Feierabend,

University of Oldenburg,

Carl-von-Osseitzky-Str. 9-11 26129 Oldenburg, Germany; 

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