UBC Undergraduate Research

Confidence in Literacy : Understanding Students’ Willingness to Take Climate Action Petrasch, Aaron; Barta, Matyas; Troya, Samuel; Clarke, Stuart; Keller, Vajra


In March 2020 at the University of British Columbia, we tested a broad group of fellow students’ climate literacy and learned helplessness levels with one survey presented in two classes and another released online. We asked: Do learned helplessness and climate literacy scores predict students’ willingness to engage in climate action? Our group aimed to correlate commonly-used indicators of learned helplessness and performance on a novel climate literacy quiz with willingness to act sustainably. To isolate the relationship between climate literacy levels and actions, every participant first took a 6 question quiz on climate literacy, and then answered 3 questions on sustainability actions they would be willing to incorporate into their lives. Besides the correlations, the corresponding data sets generally estimate undergraduate students’ knowledge of actions that can help mitigate climate change and their willingness to engage with them. Unexpectedly, our strongest correlations resulted from the inclusion of a confidence measure before participants were quizzed on climate literacy. We found significant correlations for literacy predicting confidence and confidence with willingness to act. Hence, our group suggests that UBC focus on encouraging confidence in climate education to promote its vision of educating more climate-conscious and upstanding global citizens. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International