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Keeping it Cool: Approaching Global Climate Change as a Socioscientific Issue to Support Science Teachers Looking to Address the NGSS


The newly adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) requires that California secondary science teachers integrate global climate change (GCC) content into their curriculum, but research reveals major inconsistencies in teaching GCC content across the nation. The teaching inconsistencies are due to factors such as the lack of scientific literacy, deep GCC content knowledge, and effective teaching methods needed to address politically controversial issues. Other barriers to successfully teaching GCC are weak curriculum and confusion among teachers regarding scientific consensus on the topic. One solution to addressing the teaching inconsistencies calls for teachers to receive GCC education to obtain skills, knowledge, and resources needed to effectively educate students.

Focusing on only Los Angeles, initial research revealed that very few organizations offer any type of GCC education to science teachers. As a result, I worked with local and national science directors to create a multi-day GCC workshop for secondary science teachers to effectively teach the politically controversial topic. The program was designed using the Socioscientific Issues (SSI) Framework along with six criteria identified by researchers studying effective GCC education programs. This program was solution oriented and encouraged teachers to teach GCC as a socioscientific issue to empower both teachers and students to take action on climate change.

As an explanatory mixed-methods study, I analyzed teachers as participants of a GCC educational program and their perceptions of how the GCC program will inform their teaching. The methods include pre-and post-surveys, daily open-ended reflection surveys, personal interviews, and follow-up surveys to measure the effect of the program on teachers. The surveys revealed an increased level of confidence in teacher content knowledge and ability to teach students about GCC, a shift in reasons for why teachers want to learn about GCC, and helpful program components identified by participants that promoted learning, curricula design, and helpful teaching strategies.

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