Public and Allied Health Faculty Publications

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The marked contrast between the scientific consensus on global warming and public beliefs indicates a need to research how high schoolers, as future citizens, engage with and make meaning from news articles on such topics. In the case of socioscientific issues (SSIs) such as global warming, students’ acquisition of knowledge from the news is mediated by their epistemic understandings of the nature of science (NOS) and use of informal reasoning in evaluating claims, evidence, and sources. This exploratory qualitative study examined twelve U.S. high school students’ understandings, opinions, and epistemic beliefs concerning global warming knowledge. Researchers examined microgenetic changes as students discussed global warming during semi-structured interviews and a close reading of global warming news texts. Although results showed that most students could articulate a working concept of global warming, in follow-up questions, a subset offered personal opinions that differed from or contradicted their previously stated understandings. Meanwhile, students who offered opinions consistent with the scientific consensus often argued that the dangers of global warming were exaggerated by politicians and scientists who wished to profit from the issue. This study suggests a need for more explicit focus on NOS and scientific news literacy in curricula, as well as further research into the interplay between epistemic beliefs and the informal reasoning students use to negotiate diverse sources of SSI knowledge—from the classroom to the news media and public life.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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