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Florida and Puerto Rico Secondary Science Teachers’ Knowledge and Teaching of Climate Change Science


Misconceptions about climate change science are pervasive among the US public. This study investigated the possibility that these misconceptions may be reflective of science teachers’ knowledge and teaching of climate change science. Florida and Puerto Rico secondary science teachers who claim to teach extensively about climate change were surveyed in regard to their conceptions of climate change science and the climate change-related topics they teach. Results show that many teachers hold naïve views about climate change (e.g. that ozone layer depletion is a primary cause of climate change) and climate change science (e.g. that it must be based on controlled experiments for it to be valid). In addition, teachers in both groups neglect crucial topics such as how evidence for climate change is developed and the social, political, and economic dimensions of climate change. Our results suggest the need for teachers to understand how to teach climate change and the nature of climate change science using authentic contexts that promote effective socioscientific decision-making and climate change mitigation.

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Contract grant sponsor: U.S. National Science Foundation funded CCEP-I: (NSF 10-542) Coastal Areas Climate Change Education (CACCE) Partnership Award (1043323).

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Correspondence to Benjamin C. Herman.

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We dedicate this article to the memory of Walter J. Rosales-Mejía whose intelligence and kindness supported us in this endeavor. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Herman, B.C., Feldman, A. & Vernaza-Hernandez, V. Florida and Puerto Rico Secondary Science Teachers’ Knowledge and Teaching of Climate Change Science. Int J of Sci and Math Educ 15, 451–471 (2017).

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  • Climate change education
  • Nature of science
  • Secondary school science
  • Science teacher education