Master’s Plan-A Thesis Defense - Jessica Batanian - April 28

Date: April 28, 2015
Location: Natural Resources RM 130

A Master’s Plan-A Thesis Defense

Incorporation of Climate Change Learning into

Michigan K-12 Science and Great Lakes Stewardship Education:

Teachers’ Perspectives

Jessica Batanian

1:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 28

Room #130, Natural Resources Building

Committee Members:

  • Shari Dann
  • Patricia Norris
  • Diane Doberneck


The projected impacts of climate change on the Great Lakes region, such as lowering lake levels and rising temperatures, have already begun to affect the region.  To enact change that will reduce the Great Lakes region’s vulnerability to climate change, it is critical to foster a sense of stewardship and empowerment among current residents.  Formal education is a place where individuals can develop the knowledge, skills, and passion to become stewards of this place. The purpose of this research project is to explore the status of K-12 climate change teaching and learning within the context of science and Great Lakes stewardship education in Michigan.  This is a qualitative, exploratory study that identifies factors that influence teachers’ ability to incorporate climate change into their lessons and more specifically, their ability to connect climate change to lessons on the Great Lakes.  Within Michigan’s current science content standards that guide most teachers with their lesson plans, climate change is addressed sparingly across grade levels and is only explicitly mentioned in the standards three times. Therefore, the degree or frequency that teachers are discussing climate change with their students is unknown.  In addition, much of the research on climate change education is quantitative and largely focuses on student perceptions or their understanding of the issue.  This research project focuses on insight gained from in-depth interviews with 15 Michigan teachers through which their diverse perspectives and ideas are given a voice within the science and climate change education conversation.  In total, 8 of the 15 teachers said they incorporate climate change into their curriculum and 10 of the 15 said that they have discussed climate change in the context of the Great Lakes with students.  Factors such as teachers’ perceptions of climate change, access to resources like professional development and teaching materials, teachers’ content and pedagogical knowledge, and the context of teacher accountability through student standardized testing all influence a teacher’s decision or ability to integrate climate change into their science or Great Lakes lessons. The majority of teachers are interested in either continuing to educate students on climate change or starting to, and have provided innovative recommendations to do so in the future.