Research Projects

Professor Chang has been the PI, coPI or collaborator of more than a dozen projects with grant amount exceeding $2 Mil to date. Find out more about his recent projects in this section.

Climate Change Education: Knowing, Doing and Being

Funding Agency: RS-SAA, NIE/NTU 

Role: Principal Investigator (2020 - 2022)

This is a book project to write the second edition of the book ittled "Climate Change Education: Knowing, Doing and Being". The project is from 2020 - 2022.

Climate change is complex and there is a need to educate our future generations so that they are able to deal with the plethora of information and views that they come into contact with in their lives. This book inquires into what it means to teach and learn about climate change.

Now in its second edition, Chang further explores what education for climate change entails, discussing the concept of climate change education (CCE) itself, how it is taught in schools and how public education is being carried out. Featuring updated literature in a quickly advancing field, the book defines CCE for the global citizen and looks at pedagogies supporting CCE. It also identifies teachers as key stakeholders in climate change discourse, how to improve teacher readiness on the topic and how teacher professional development can support successful implementation of CCE.

Developing a Framework to Describe School Geography Curricula around the World

Funding Agency: National Centre for Research in Geography Education, USA.
Role: Principal Investigator (2018 - 2019)

This project seeks to facilitate collaborative research among geographers and promote the use of research to improve practice in geography education through forming a research group to develop a framework to describe school Geography Curricula around the world. Geographical education is practiced differently around the world, as there are many factors (e.g., geographical location) and contexts (e.g., political, cultural) that countries may face in terms of planning and developing their geography curriculum.

The use of Augmented Reality (AR) in Assessment for Learning about Climate Change

Funding Agency: RS-SAA, NIE/NTU 

Role: Principal Investigator (2017 - 2019)

Currently, the instruments and items used to measure students' understanding of climate change is very summative in nature. There is nothing useful in the classroom for the teacher to diagnose learning and misconceptions. Assessment for learning is to help teachers and students monitor their progress and to identify the areas for improvement. It provides feedback to teachers and their students to make necessary changes in their learning activities to promote improvement and making learning more effective. While the climate change diagnostic test (CCDT) has been successful in correcting the students' misconceptions, it is summative in nature and relies on how the teacher delivers his/her lessons. The challenge that most teachers face in a traditional classroom is the ability to provide feedback to all the students in class. This study proposes that the use of augmented reality (AR) can adapt the CCDT for assessment for learning of CCE. The key feature about AR is its affordance in providing rapid information based on visual ques by overlaying of information onto the current view. This enables the users to see both the real world information and the augmented information on the same platform. Since all information is layered onto their worksheets, students have opportunities to reflect individually or in pairs on the instructions given to identify and correct misconceptions. The authors posit that the use of AR technology will help students correct their climate change misconceptions better.

Developing a Learning Progression for Climate Change in Geography Education

Funding Agency: EFRP, NIE/NTU 

Role: Principal Investigator (2016 - 2019)

Climate change is taught explicitly as a topic in the Singapore school geography curriculum. In responding to the city state's desired outcomes of education and meeting its standards of twenty-first century competencies, it is important for learners to develop criticality and dispositions to engage climate change issues. Based on previous studies conducted by the PI over the last four years, it has been found that geography students have misconceptions about this topic that are similar to those found in other students around the world. In reviewing the literature on methodologies that support development, Learning Progression offers an empirics-based roadmap for building students' holistic knowledge base and in confronting the fragmented and often incomplete understanding of the climate change issue. The study endeavours to answer the key question of how school geography curriculum can be designed and how it can be enacted in the classroom based on the outcomes of this research study. The methodology is adapted from the common practice of establishing a hypothetical learning progression (HLP), testing and validating the HLP to develop the empirical learning progression (ELP) before determining intervention strategies to test if students can learn climate change better through this approach. More importantly, the research study will inform the teaching and learning of climate change within the wider context of geographical and environmental education in the international community.

International Baseline Study of Students' Understanding of Climate Change

Funding Agency: International Network of Education Institutes

Role: Co-Principal Investigator (2015 - 2016)

Awareness about climate change is not indicative of deep knowledge about the phenomenon. This situation runs counter to the indication that accurate knowledge is a significant determinant for an individual's informed action. On the other hand, people who hold erroneous understanding, who even believe that global warming is occurring and may even have the ensuing intentions to act on such belief are less likely to act on such understanding and belief. There are many examples of what students know and do not know about climate change in the literature, but there exists the problem of comparability of data in terms of demographics, social and cultural contexts To this end, the project seeks to examine what students know and do not know about the climate change issue. 

Climate change education: translating research to practice 

Funding Agency: RS-SAA, NIE/NTU 

Role: Principal Investigator (2014 - 2016)

Alongside mounting evidence of rapid changes in the global climate system is the growing concern on how to mitigate and adapt to these changes, and more importantly, on how to prepare future generations to its impact (International Panel on Climate Change, 2007). Indeed, climate change is a predicament with inter-generational consequences; the repercussions of decisions made in the present are borne by those who will inhabit the planet in years to come. To this, education is universally regarded as a key measure to pass on vital skills and knowledge, and essentially a catalyst of hope for humanity against the impending threats of climate change (Anderson, 2012). However, notwithstanding its relevance and currency, the phenomenon remains fundamentally misunderstood. Climate change literacy is yet to be developed as a skillset.
There is no dearth in research documenting the prevalence of false beliefs that make up general understanding of climate change. In fact, studies on how the topic is taught and learned in schools point to the chasm between awareness and understanding and the pervasiveness of misconceptions in students' mental models (Daniel, Stanisstreet, & Boyes, 2007; Hansen, 2010; Kilinc, Stanisstreet, & Boyes, 2008; Lee, Lester, Ma, Lambert, & Jean-Baptiste, 2007). In addition, reports on interventions aimed at replacing bogus with correct knowledge have indicated the tenacity of these misconceptions (Gautier Deutsch, & Rebich, 2006; Lee et al., 2007).
Central to this proposal is the continuation of scholarly efforts by the Principal Investigator (PI) to push for greater and deeper engagement with the learning of climate change in Singapore's schools. The project has three objectives. First, it intends to refine, strengthen and implement the Climate Change Diagnostic Test (CCDT), an instrument used to determine the nature of climate change knowledge, to a wider population of mixed demographics. Second, an intervention will be mounted to target resilient misconceptions through the use of refutation-based text and instruction. Findings from the CCDT data will inform the development of this teaching and learning programme. Third and foremost, it intends to translate research discoveries into practice by producing a teaching kit that is empirically grounded on the results of classroom-based studies contextual to Singapore.
In context, two previous research projects by the PI have set the ground for a more nuanced inquiry on the topic. The first grant (RS 1/11 CCH) made possible for the establishment of baseline data on what students and teachers know and do not know about climate change. The research also looked at how teachers of various disciplines perceive climate change education and the uses of climate literacy to the individual and society at large. A scholarly book was published with Routledge (Chang, 2014) in addition to several journal articles (Chang, 2013; Chang and Pascua, 2014) and conference presentation (Chang & Pascua, 2012).
The second phase (RS 5/12 CCH) specifically targeted the improvement of content understanding on climate change through triggering conceptual change. A professional development workshop was mounted for this purpose. Two teachers then agreed to be observed by the research team as they taught the topic in their respective classrooms. Simultaneously, identified misconceptions in the first phase were concretized into the CCDT (see Appendix) which was implemented in these two separate occasions. Following a case-based approach, class observations showed the fact that teachers' enhanced understanding of the phenomenon was not enough to effectively recalibrate students' alternative conception. Indeed, while significant improvement in understanding was observed in both events, the prevalence and resilience of a number of misconceptions were also noted. The deterioration of newly acquired understanding was also recorded such that some students reverted to their old misconceptions even when these appeared to have been successfully refuted by the intervention. New alternative conceptions were also observed to have developed at the end of treatment (see Preliminary Report). With these new discoveries, the proposed project will now aim to target resilient misconceptions through the use of refutation text and instruction, with a view to develop a viable and effective teaching and learning package.

An Evidence-Informed Study to Determine Why Singapore Teachers Engage in Professional Development 

Funding Agency: EFRP, NIE/NTU 

Role: Principal Investigator (2012 - 2014)

Set against the motivation for NIE/GPL to enhance Teacher Professional Development (TPD) in meeting the needs of our stakeholders, the question of what makes a teacher want to engage in TPD was raised. While a literature scan has shown numerous studies on TPD that advocate different types of PD that teachers consider effective, there exists little consensus on which type of PD works best, and consequently no conclusion on what makes a teacher want to do TPD can be drawn. Specifically, the Singapore literature suffers from a dearth of emipirical study to show what motivates a teacher to do TPD. Adopting a social pyschology framework of Planned Behaviour Theory (TPB), this study seeks to address the research problem above through a baseline study and an extended exploration on the factors affecting a teacher's motivation to do TPD. Indeed, Planned Behaviour Theory explicates the process that translates beliefs into behaviour. Three main concepts of attitude towards belief, subjective beliefs and perceived behaviourial control will anchor the inquiry into what makes a teacher want to engage in TPD. A variety of data collection methods are proposed to study this. In-depth interview and questionnaire survey will be used to construct the baseline while observations and fieldwork will deepen the exploration and provide the triangulation to data collection, essentially improving the reliability of the study. A series of univariate/bivariate statistical, document and content analyses will be undertaken. The findings from this study will present important implications for NIE such as in informing the institution on how PD is made sense on the ground. At the same time, it is envisioned to provide information for the group in rethinking its course and if needed, modifying its nature of service delivery.

"The hole in the sky is causing global warming?" Restructuring Prior Knowledge in Climate Change Education through Conceptual Change 

Funding Agency: RS-SAA, NIE/NTU 

Role: Principal Investigator (2012 - 2014)

This project builds on the research interest of the principal investigator on climate change education. The baseline research on which the PI is currently working on shows that students in Singapore have no deep understanding about climate change and they hold several misconceptions on the phenomenon.

This proposal aims deepen inquiry through an intervention using a quasi-experimental design. The main objective is to restructure identified erroneous understanding of teachers and learners about climate change concepts. It is envisioned that through an iterative, consultative design as aided by the conceptual change approach, this undertaking will inform the implementation of a new curriculum in Geography on climate change.

For earlier projects, please contact Prof Chang for his detailed CV.