Using an Integrated Approach to Supporting Climate Change Literacy for Pre-Service Teachers
Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 11:50 AM
Educating future Americans has long been a debate; with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) now being adopted, climate literacy has become a more dominant discussion in both the classroom and in our society where climate education has often been non-existent or dismal at best. With these new education standards climate literacy is now fundamental to science education, this means understanding climate needs to begin with those headed into the classroom with these future Americans. These educators are expected to be skilled and confident in all subject areas, including science, where they might receive less training. To address this challenge, we have focused on an interdisciplinary approach to climate literacy, which is facilitated through cross-cutting concepts in both Earth and life sciences and parallels NGSS standards. We used the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication to gauge our student’s strengths and weaknesses and compare them to the general public’s understanding of climate change and complex Earth processes, such as beliefs about climate change, understanding the greenhouse effect, weather versus climate, climate change past and present, impacts and solutions. After a semester of this interdisciplinary course our students felt 95% confident that they are informed about global climate change as compared to 62% of Americans that were surveyed. Our students could define and describe greenhouse effect and 82% of them could classify greenhouse gases as compared to 66% and 45% of Americans respectively. While these non-science, education students were generally more knowledgeable about climate change, the areas where they did not significantly outperform the general public allowed us to refocus our course to aid them in understanding this complex issue where our hopes are that they will be prepared to teach science in their future classroom which will allow their students to be competitive in today’s rapidly evolving global economy.