"Climate Confusion Among U.S. Teachers"

02.11.2016

Graphic from articleThe first nationwide survey of climate change education in the United States, conducted by researchers at NCSE and Pennsylvania State University, was described in "Climate Confusion Among U.S. Teachers," published (PDF) in the February 12, 2016, issue of the journal Science.

Based on the responses of over fifteen hundred middle and high school science teachers across the nation to a survey asking about their knowledge of and teaching about climate science, the article reports that there was good news and bad news: "whereas most U.S. science teachers include climate science in their courses, their insufficient grasp of the science may hinder effective teaching."

In a February 11, 2016, press release from NCSE, Eric Plutzer of Penn State observed, "Few teachers were pressured to avoid teaching about global warming and its causes." But the median teacher devoted only one to two hours to the topic. Moreover, as NCSE's Josh Rosenau commented, "At least one in three teachers bring climate change denial into the classroom, claiming that many scientists believe climate change is not caused by humans."

"Teachers didn't created the polarized culture war around climate change," Rosenau added. "But they're the key to ending this battle." The article concluded that "simply offering teachers more traditional science education may not lead to better classroom practice. Education efforts will need to draw on science communication research and acknowledged resistance to accepting the science and addressing its root causes."

Written by Eric Plutzer, Mark McCaffrey, A. Lee Hannah, Joshua Rosenau, Minda Berbeco, and Ann H. Reid, the article is "Climate Confusion Among U.S. Teachers," appearing in Science 351 (6274):665-666. Further articles explaining the survey and its results are scheduled to appear in various venues.