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Education

Political views, education of teachers affect instruction

by Cheryl Hogue
February 29, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 9

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Credit: Shutterstock
Political ideology was a powerful predictor of a teacher’s approach to climate change in the classroom.
Credit: Shutterstock
Political ideology was a powerful predictor of a teacher’s approach to climate change in the classroom.

Lessons about climate change in U.S. public middle and high schools are influenced by teachers’ political views or their lack of knowledge on this subject, according to a new report (Science, 2016, DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3907). Researchers from Pennsylvania State University and the National Center for Science Education surveyed science teachers in 1,500 schools in all 50 U.S. states. They found that most of these teachers devoted at least an hour in their lesson plans to discussing recent global warming. Of these teachers, only a minority correctly believed that at least 80% of climate scientists agree that most recently observed global warming is primarily due to human activity. In their lessons, 30% of the teachers emphasized that recent global warming is likely due to natural causes. The researchers found that a question in the survey measuring political ideology more powerfully predicted a teacher’s approach to climate change in the classroom than any measure of education or knowledge of climate change.

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