Preparing pre-service elementary teachers to teach about climate change

By Dennis Sanchez Rosemartin

Abstract: I find it concerning, as a former elementary teacher and now a teacher educator, that not much attention is given to the preparation of new teachers on the environmental and social crisis of climate change. I have taught in two teacher preparation programs at public universities in the United States and understand the complexities, barriers, and limitations that these programs must contend with when trying to implement something new into an existing curriculum. In this paper I will describe my first attempt in navigating through the process of trying to include climate change education into a teacher preparation program. The focus of this initial effort was to understand the climate change literacy and self-efficacy towards teaching about climate change of the students in my elementary science teaching methods course.

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Changing the climate of beliefs: A conceptual model of learning design elements to promote climate change literacy

By Katrina Leona Marzetta

Climate change is a difficult subject to teach because it requires complex scientific understandings and is connected to personal beliefs (Spence, Poortinga & Pidgeon, 2012). It is important to teach students the science of climate change and impact their personal beliefs to produce behavior that will mitigate climate change. In this study pre and post surveys focusing on climate change understanding, belief, and behavior were administered. Interviews were also conducted. The quantitative and qualitative data were conflicting, but through triangulated data analysis learning design elements promoting Climate Change Literacy in higher education were identified. A conceptual model was developed with the learning design elements to improve the teaching of Climate Change Literacy. Findings depicted three design elements that increase students’ Climate Change Literacy: 1) Decreasing students’ psychological distance from climate change, 2) Utilizing students’ sense of place, and 3) Student investigation of their own research questions. Increasing students’ Climate Change Literacy is the critical first step in making sustainable societal transformations required for mitigating climate change, our most pressing environmental issue that impacts all people and the natural environment (Spence, Poortinga, & Pidgeon, 2012).

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