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Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2018 Abstracts

Climate Confusion in the Classroom; Perceptions, Methods, and Background of Utah Secondary Education Science Teachers

Tyler Hole, Weber State University

In 2016, a nationwide study out of Pennsylvania State University surveyed 10,000 secondary education public school science teachers and found that “teachers’ knowledge and values can hinder climate education” (Plutzer, 2016). This groundbreaking study showed that a teacher's knowledge of and belief in climate change, affected what they taught in the classroom. A 2017 study, focusing on the northern Utah area, is an attempt to replicate and verify the above results. The study area, which includes some of the largest school districts in the nation, encompasses Weber, Ogden, and Davis school districts, which serve approximately 113,000 students. To assess the views of the teachers in these districts, an email invitation to take the survey was sent directly to all associated junior high and high school science teachers that had publicly available email addresses, a total of 190 of the 220 listed science teachers in these districts. Survey participants were asked questions to assess their knowledge of climate change as well as their teaching practices in the classroom. These responses, as well as answers to demographic questions were evaluated to determine the impact that their knowledge and beliefs had in their teaching. While the survey is ongoing, preliminary data analysis indicates that even in the context of a conservative state, teachers in northern Utah, in general, follow the same patterns shown in the nationwide Plutzer (2016) study. This strengthens the theory that teachers who lack a knowledge of or belief in climate change, tend to convey that message to their students, thus clouding the scientific consensus on climate change.