Understanding the science of environmental issues: Development of a subject knowledge guide for primary teacher education
Summers M., Kruger C., Childs A. 2001 International Journal of Science Education v23 p33-53

In the light of an increased concern for environmental education (especially in the context of sustainable development) in the UK, this study used questionnaire surveys to explore the understanding of 170 practising primary school teachers, 120 primary trainees and 88 secondary science trainees in four areas: biodiversity, the carbon cycle, ozone and global warming. A methodological innovation in this research was the prior identification of basic scientific explanations of each area for a primary teacher and the use of these as benchmarks for judging understanding. Knowledge of the component parts of these explanations was tested in the questionnaires. Hence the study was able to identify those underpinning science concepts which were well understood, and those which were not so well understood. The frequencies of several misconceptions, uncovered in earlier interviews and also included in the questionnaires, are also reported. It is suggested that both the basic explanations and the difficulties of understanding displayed by the teachers in some areas can usefully inform programmes of professional development for sustainable development and environmental education. An outline of a guide for teachers adopting this approach is provided.

Subject: Geoscience:Atmospheric Science:Climate Change:Greenhouse effect, Environmental Science:Global Change and Climate, Geoscience:Atmospheric Science:Climate Change:Impacts of climate change, Climate feedbacks, Natural causes, Geoscience:Atmospheric Science:Climatology :Climate sensitivity and feedbacks, Geoscience:Atmospheric Science:Climate Change, Environmental Science:Global Change and Climate:Ozone depletion, Climate Change:Impacts of climate change, Natural causes, Greenhouse effect, Climate feedbacks
Resource Type: Pedagogic Resources, Journal Article
Research on Learning: Cognitive Domain:Misconceptions/barriers to learning, Geoscience Expertise:Complex Systems