Nav: Home

Climate change misconceptions common among teachers, study finds

June 07, 2017

Recent studies have shown that misconceptions about climate change and the scientific studies that have addressed climate change are pervasive among the U.S. public. Now, a new study by Benjamin Herman, assistant professor in the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum in the University of Missouri College of Education, shows that many secondary school science teachers also possess several of these same misconceptions.

In the study, Herman surveyed 220 secondary science teachers in Florida and Puerto Rico to determine their knowledge about climate change science. The survey asked questions regarding things that do contribute to climate change, such as greenhouse gas emissions, and things that do not significantly contribute, such as the depletion of the ozone layer and the use of pesticides. The survey also asked whether controlled scientific experiments are required to validate climate change.

While the majority of the surveyed teachers accurately responded that fossil fuel use, automobiles and industry emissions were major causes of climate change, they also exhibited notable climate change misconceptions. For instance, nearly all of the Puerto Rico teachers and more than 70 percent of Florida teachers believed incorrectly that ozone layer depletion and pesticide use were at least minor, yet significant, causes of climate change. Additionally, Herman says that nearly 50 percent of Florida teachers and nearly 70 percent of Puerto Rico teachers think that climate change science must be studied through controlled experiments to be valid.

Herman says the teachers in his study exhibited climate change science misconceptions at a similar rate to average Americans. He says these results are understandable given that teachers are often overworked and not afforded professional development opportunities that would deepen their climate change science knowledge.

"Teachers want and need support to keep them abreast of scientific discoveries and developments and how scientists come to their well-established claims regarding climate change," Herman said. "Climate change science involves many different types of science methods stemming from disciplines, including physics, biology, atmospheric science and earth science. Science teachers also need professional development directed at assisting them in their efforts to accurately and effectively engage students on this important issue. Because of existing misconceptions and misinformation regarding climate change, science teachers have a crucial professional and ethical responsibility to accurately convey to their students how climate change is studied and why scientists believe the climate is changing."
-end-
The study, "Florida and Puerto Rico Secondary Science Teachers' Knowledge and Teaching of Climate Change Science," was published in the International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. The study was coauthored by Allan Feldman and Vanessa Vernaza-Hernandez from the University of South Florida. The study was funded by a National Science Foundation Coastal Areas Climate Change Education Partnership Award grant.

University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Climate Change Articles:

The black forest and climate change
Silver and Douglas firs could replace Norway spruce in the long run due to their greater resistance to droughts.
For some US counties, climate change will be particularly costly
A highly granular assessment of the impacts of climate change on the US economy suggests that each 1°Celsius increase in temperature will cost 1.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, on average.
Climate change label leads to climate science acceptance
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
Was that climate change?
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#535 Superior
Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back.