Research in Science Education

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 173–189 | Cite as

Exploring Science Teachers’ Argumentation and Personal Epistemology About Global Climate Change

  • Shiyu LiuEmail author
  • Gillian Roehrig


This case study investigated the nature of in-service science teachers’ argumentation and personal epistemology about global climate change during a 3-year professional development program on climate change education. Qualitative analysis of data from interviews and written assessments revealed that while these teachers grounded their arguments on climate issues in evidence, the evidence was often insufficient to justify their causal claims. Compared with generating arguments for their own views, teachers had more difficulties in constructing evidence-based arguments for alternative perspectives. Moreover, while these teachers shared some similarities in their epistemology about climate science, they varied in their beliefs about specific aspects such as scientists’ expertise and the credibility of scientific evidence. Such similarities and distinctions were shown to relate to how teachers used evidence to justify claims in their arguments. The findings also suggested a mismatch between teachers’ personal epistemology about science in general and climate science, which was revealed through their argumentation. This work helps to further the ongoing discussions in environmental education about what knowledge and skills teachers need in order to teach climate issues and prepare students for future decision making. It constitutes first steps to facilitate reasoning and argumentation in climate change education and provides important implications for future design of professional development programs.


Global climate change Argumentation Personal epistemology In-service teachers 



This material is based in part upon work supported by the NASA Innovations in Climate Education program under Grant Number NNX1OAT53A.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina
  2. 2.STEM Education CenterUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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