COS 63-1
Understanding global change: Assessing the needs of global change educators

Wednesday, August 13, 2014: 8:00 AM
Regency Blrm E, Hyatt Regency Hotel
Minda R. Berbeco, Climate Change Program, National Center for Science Education, Oakland, CA
Mark McCaffrey, Climate Change Program, National Center for Science Education, Oakland, CA
Lisa White, UC Museum of Paleontology, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Molly Stuhlsatz, BSCS, Colorado Springs, CO
Background/Question/Methods Global change, from modern day habitat fragmentation and climate change to ancient extinctions and land formation, are some of the most compelling and challenging ideas for educators to teach. Yet, aside from state standards and regional curricular materials, it is not well-known how often and to what extent educators cover these topics.  Moreover, it is not well-known how their own understanding limits or enhances their ability to share these often complex ideas.  In order to address this challenge, the National Center for Science Education, the UC Museum of Paleontology, and BSCS surveyed educators across the country to find out what educators were teaching about global change, why they were choosing certain topics to focus on and how scientists can best serve this community.

Results/Conclusions The over 1350 respondents to the survey represented educators in grades 6-16 and informal settings in every state across the country and covering all areas of the sciences. The majority of them had been teaching ten years or more and over 95% indicated they felt teaching about global change issues was important or very important.  Our results indicate that educators who identified as teaching about global change topics, taught concepts they felt most confident in.  The most commonly taught concepts related to global change included climate change, the carbon cycle, pollution and water accessibility.  Concepts that were not well-covered included phenology, the spread of disease and ocean acidification.  When asked why these topics were not addressed, the majority of respondents expressed feeling a lack of confidence, training and background in these areas. These results suggest the need to provide educators with resources and background needed to increase their content knowledge and confidence levels.  To address these needs, the UCMP, NCSE and BSCS are collaborating with senior educators and global change scientists to create a high quality resource for the educational community that highlight those areas educators feel least confident in.