Environmental Literacy                                        

      Michigan State University

Welcome to our website     
About Us


The goal of our project is to develop learning progressions leading toward environmental science literacy—the capacity to understand and participate in evidence-based discussions of socio-ecological systems and to make informed decisions about appropriate actions and policies—for students from upper elementary school through college.

Our work is organized into four strands, each representing an important part of school science curricula and of environmental science literacy

  • Carbon. Carbon-transforming processes in socio-ecological systems at multiple scales, including cellular and organismal metabolism, ecosystem energetics and carbon cycling, carbon sequestration, and combustion of fossil fuels.  These processes: (a) create organic carbon (photosynthesis), (b) transform organic carbon (biosynthesis, digestion, food webs, carbon sequestration), and (c) oxidize organic carbon (cellular respiration, combustion).  The primary cause of global climate change is the current worldwide imbalance among these processes.
  • Water.  The role of water and substances carried by water in earth, living, and engineered systems, including the atmosphere, surface water and ice, ground water, human water systems, and water in living systems.
  • Biodiversity.  The diversity of living systems, including variability among individuals in population, evolutionary changes in populations, diversity in natural ecosystems and in human systems that produce food, fiber, and wood.
  • Citizenship. Using scientific knowledge to make informed decisions about environmental issues.

This website includes three kinds of products from our work:

  • Research reports and publications, that describe learning progression frameworks for each strand and analyses of data from assessments and teaching experiments.
  • Assessments, including written assessments and interviews that can be used to measure students’ levels of achievement in learning progressions before instruction and after instruction.
  • Teaching materials, including tools for principled reasoning, PowerPoint presentations, and application and inquiry activities at upper elementary, middle school, and high school levels.

* This research is supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation: Learning Progression on Carbon-Transforming Processes in Socio-Ecological Systems (NSF 0815993), and Targeted Partnership: Culturally relevant ecology, learning progressions and environmental literacy (NSF-0832173), and CCE: A Learning Progression-based System for Promoting Understanding of Carbon-transforming Processes (DRL 1020187). Additional support comes from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the United States Department of Energy







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