Behavior Research

High School Energy Curriculum

For this project, we implemented a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of a theory-driven, school-based intervention to increase energy efficiency behaviors among high school students. Students in a local public high school were randomized to receive a five-week classroom-based behavioral intervention or to serve as an untreated control group. The intervention has been developed over two years through formative research, including piloting with representative youth. Week 1 centers on increasing motivation for behavior change, Weeks 2-4 apply behavioral methods to promote change on the selected target behaviors, and Week 5 reinforces the previous weeks with an advocacy activity. Energy efficiency behaviors were assessed in both groups by self-report at baseline and after the completion of the intervention. We hypothesized that students in the intervention classrooms would significantly improve their total energy efficiency behaviors compared to controls. We also evaluated potential demographic, socio-cultural and psychological moderators and mediators of intervention effects on energy efficiency behaviors to examine potential mechanisms of change, intervention delivery variables and their relationships to outcomes, correlates and risk factors, and identified the most appropriate target audiences for dissemination and future studies. Our results are promising, indicating a statistically significant overall shift in energy efficiency behaviors in the group that received the intervention. There were also significant changes in specific actions targeted, including hang drying clothes and turning off appliances.

Our goal is to have teachers download and use this curriculum. To this end, we have provided materials from our intervention for teachers, researchers, and other practitioners to use; these can be downloaded below. We have adjusted the style and graphic design of our lesson plans to make them more conducive for teachers to apply directly. Materials include the lesson plans, supplementary worksheets and forms, and the survey we used to evaluate the intervention, and our paper, submitted for publication in Energy Efficiency. The paper provides a detailed description of how we implemented and evaluated the study.

Working Paper (PTP-2012-05-2)

Lesson Plans

A Curriculum to Address Climate Change and Energy Security Issues by Enabling Individuals to Reduce Personal and Community-Wide Energy Use.

Worksheets and Design Journals

Design Journals

Powerpoint Slides

If you would like the PowerPoint slide files, please contact Marilyn Cornelius at


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