High School Teachers and Students Knowledge and Views about Climate Change, a Nice NASA Example

Monday, 15 December 2014
Robert E Bleicher, California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA, United States and Julie Lee Lambert, Florida Atlantic University, Key Biscayne, FL, United States
One factor for some Americans being confused about climate change is their lack of understanding its underlying science concepts (Somerville & Hassol, 2011). In spite of this, climate change has been under-emphasized in school curricula (Bardsley & Bardsley, 2007). This is an important challenge for science educators, especially given the increasing public awareness of climate change impacts in their everyday lives (NCADAC, 2013).

One way to address this challenge is to involve teachers in professional learning projects with the expectation that their enhanced content and pedagogical knowledge about climate change will transfer into more effective instruction resulting in increased student learning. For teacher educators, this translates into providing vibrant professional learning activities that energize and engage science teachers to develop interesting lessons that stimulate their students to learn important science concepts and develop positive attitudes to science.

This study examined content knowledge and views about climate change of 33 high school science teachers and their1050 students who participated in lessons developed in a NASA-funded professional learning project. The teachers participated in a seven-day climate change summer institute and received in-classroom follow-up support throughout the school year. Teacher data sources included a background survey (undergraduate majors, number of years teaching science), science teaching self-efficacy (STEBI-A) scores, Climate Science Inventory of Knowledge (CSIK), and Six-America’s Views on Climate Change. Student data included journal entries, and pre-post measures using the CSIK and Six-Americas instruments. T-tests and ANOVA showed that both students and their teachers increased in climate science knowledge. Teachers’ views about climate change were more aligned to climate scientists’ views. Teachers also increased in their science teaching self-efficacy and those with higher self-efficacy demonstrated higher climate change science knowledge.

In addition to these data, the professional learning model and examples of the hands-on activities utilized by teachers will be shared in this presentation. The Logic Model is included below to provide an overall picture of the project.