California and Texas Secondary Science Teachers' Perceptions about climate change
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Background: Science teachers’ perceptions about climate change can affect their instruction in the classroom. Teachers’ misconceptions about this topic can be problematic since scientifically inaccurate ideas may be transferred to their students. Purpose: The aim of the study was to investigate climate change perceptions of secondary science teachers in California and Texas, including their knowledge, teaching approaches, and personal views. The study assessed whether their views were linked to their political and religious affiliations and beliefs. It also examined whether there were any differences between California and Texas teachers. Methods: A total of 832 secondary public school science teachers (456 from California and 376 from Texas) responded to an online questionnaire that examined their perceptions about climate change. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used to determine the differences in strengths and deficiencies between teachers’ responses in both states. Results: Findings indicate that a significant proportion of California and Texas teachers have misconceptions with regards to basic climate change concepts. A higher proportion of California teachers than Texas teachers emphasize the scientific consensus about climate change causes. More Texas teachers than California teachers are sending mixed messages about climate change causes to students by emphasizing the natural causes as well as the scientific consensus. The study also found a significant association between teachers’ political and religious affiliations and beliefs and their views of the scientific consensus and climate change causes. Conclusion: Differences between California and Texas teachers in terms of their knowledge, views, and approaches to climate change suggest that climate change is taught differently in the two states. Due to the suboptimal understanding of content knowledge among a significant proportion of science teachers, it is recommended to develop teacher education programs and in-service teacher training that focus on improving teachers’ scientific knowledge and teaching approaches to climate change.