Perceptions and misconceptions regarding climate change: politics versus education
Gil, Elia O.
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Climate change has been increasingly becoming a commonly debated topic among the public (Lambert & Bleicher, 2013). This is especially true with scientists and educators (Cooney, 2010). Terminology, politics, and misconceptions can bias perceptions. Scientists also tend to disagree over the cause of climate change and the data resulting from different studies (Idso, Carter, & Singer, 2016). The pilot study was conducted to examine perceptions of preservice teachers regarding climate change. There were forty participants, comprised of twenty Hispanic, nineteen Anglo American, and one African American, enrolled in a required course for future science educators in a medium-sized south Texas university. The pilot study included pre- and post-tests distributed to all of the participants and one on one interviews with three randomly selected pre-service teachers. The post-test results showed a significant difference in statements about the belief that climate change is real, about there being enough scientific evidence to prove the climate is changing, and the belief we are experiencing an extinction event due to climate change. While one lesson on climate change may not prove to be enough to change all of the participants’ perceptions, there were some pre-service teachers who did begin to think differently about the impact of human activities and became more aware of climate change issues. The findings from this research show how beneficial a lesson on climate change can be to the future careers of science educators and in turn contribute considerably to the education of future students.