Argumentation as a Strategy for Increasing Preservice Teachers’ Understanding of Climate Change, a Key Global Socioscientific Issue

Julie L. Lambert, Robert E. Bleicher
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Findings of this study suggest that scientific argumentation can play an effective role in addressing complex socioscientific issues (i.e. global climate change). This research examined changes in preservice teachers’ knowledge and perceptions about climate change in an innovative undergraduate-level elementary science methods course. The preservice teachers’ understanding of fundamental concepts (e.g., the difference between weather and climate, causes of recent global warming, etc.) increased significantly. Their perceptions about climate change became more aligned to those of climate scientists. A key assignment was to develop and present an evidence-based scientific argument based on an adaptation of Toulmin’s argumentation model (1958). The participants were assigned a typical question and claim of climate skeptics and asked to conduct research on the scientific findings to prepare a counter-argument (rebuttal). The preservice teachers indicated that the integration of scientific argumentation was an effective strategy for increasing their understanding and perceptions about climate change as a socioscientfic issue.

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