The Understandings of Global Warming and Learning Styles: A Phenomenographic Analysis of Prospective Primary School Teachers

Article excerpt

Abstract

In this study, statements by prospective primary school teachers such as "I think the word global warming ..." or "I think the term global warming means ..." were analyzed by using qualitative phenomenographic research methods. 142 female (48.3 %) and 152 male (51.7 %) pimary school teacher candidates (n=294) participated in the study. Moreover, the relationship between learning styles and perceptions was investigated. In the study, seven different conceptions of global warming were determined at the end of the phenomenographic analysis. Conceptions of global warming from the least sophisticated to the most inclusive and expansive are (1) Global warming is the gradual increase in the temperature of the earth. (2) Global warming is the gradual enhancement of the hole in the ozone layer. (3) Global warming is the deterioration of ecological balance. (4) Global warming is the change of climates and seasons. (5) Global warming is the deterioration of mutual relation between the people and ecological balance. (6) The cause of global warming is people and they are responsible for its prevention. (7) Global warming is the portent of vanishing process of living things and people. Implications of these findings were discussed and evaluated in terms of environmental education.

Key Words

Environmental Education, Phenomenography, Teacher Candidate, Global Warming, Learning Style.

Palmer and Neal (1996) identify environmental education as "presumably, if environmental education is about producing well informed and environmentally active adults, then those responsible for it should have some idea of the kinds of learning experiences which help to influence the development of environmental care and concern" (p. 3). Lang (2000) claimed that the quality of environmental education could be improved via the development of in-service professional training courses devoted to teachers interested in environmental education. The assumption behind developing teacher undestanding is that there is a relationship between a teacher's instruction and students' learning (Agelidou, Balafoutas, & Flogaitis, XXX). Ballantyne, Fien and Packer (2001) suggested that providing a series of environmental experiences would provide opportunities for students to be part of an environmental activity. Young people conceive of the environment as an issue in the same way as adults might (Cullingford, 1996).

Climate change research is a 'quintessential' interdisciplinary undertaking, involving virtually every field in both the natural and social sciences and drawing hundreds, even thousands of scientists who have benefited from the controversy's lucrative research opportunities (O'Donnell, 2000).

Sadler, Chambers and Zeidler (2004) categorized the responses as 'social influences on global warming' showing a clear understanding of the influence of societal factors on science at least with respect to global warming. Summers, Kruger, Childs and Mant (2001) used questionnaire surveys to explore the understanding of 170 practicing primary school teachers, 120 primary trainees and 88 secondary science trainees in four areas: biodiversity, the carbon cycle, the ozone and global warming. Many studies have been done on higher education students' perceptions of the Earth. The most important among these studies were carried out by Ference Marton and his colleagues at Gothenburg University (Bradbeer, Healey, & Kneale, 2004).

A new primary education curriculum was prepared following the constructivist alignment in 2004 in Turkey (Ögülmüs, Güven, & Karabag, 2005). According to the constructivist alignment, the need to construct knowledge emerges when the individual tries to educe from the experiences during his interaction with the environment. In addition to pre-knowledge and experiences affecting the individual's process to construct the knowledge, socio-cultural environment does also have a great effect (Açikgöz, 2003). …

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