It’s about time: perceived barriers to in-service teacher climate change professional development

Megan Ennes, Danielle F. Lawson, Kathryn T. Stevenson, M. Nils Peterson, M. Gail Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The pressing nature of climate change and its associated impacts requires a climate literate citizenry. Climate change education in K-12 settings may provide a unique opportunity to make inroads towards climate literacy. However, many K-12 teachers avoid teaching climate change because they are uncomfortable with the subject or do not see its relevance to their curriculum. Removing barriers to climate change professional development (CCPD) for teachers may help increase confidence in teaching about climate change. To understand the perceived barriers to participating in CCPD, a survey was conducted with 54 middle school science teachers who did not respond to a previous invitation to participate in a CCPD program. The most significant barrier was time to participate. The participants were also asked to rate their confidence about whether climate change is happening. The results were compared between teachers who were confident climate change was happening and those who were not to examine whether these beliefs influenced teachers’ perceptions of barriers. Those who were confident climate change was happening were less likely to perceive administrative support, interest in the workshop, and knowledge of climate change content as barriers. However, both groups of teachers reported that time was the primary barrier rather than the topic. This suggests that, rather than developing unique strategies, existing best practices in teacher professional development can be used to support CCPD opportunities. Additional recommendations include thinking creatively about how to create time for teachers to attend and making the professional development directly relevant to teacher’s local contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)762-778
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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