A Three-Tier Diagnostic Test to Assess Pre-Service Teachers' Misconceptions about Global Warming, Greenhouse Effect, Ozone Layer Depletion, and Acid Rain

Arslan H. O., Cigdemoglu C., Moseley C.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SCIENCE EDUCATION, vol.34, no.11, pp.1667-1686, 2012 (SSCI) identifier identifier


This study describes the development and validation of a three-tier multiple-choice diagnostic test, the atmosphere-related environmental problems diagnostic test (AREPDiT), to reveal common misconceptions of global warming (GW), greenhouse effect (GE), ozone layer depletion (OLD), and acid rain (AR). The development of a two-tier diagnostic test procedure as described by Treagust constitutes the framework for this study. To differentiate a lack of knowledge from a misconception, a certainty response index is added as a third tier to each item. Based on propositional knowledge statements, related literature, and the identified misconceptions gathered initially from 157 pre-service teachers, the AREPDiT was constructed and administered to 256 pre-service teachers. The Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of the pre-service teachers' scores was estimated to be 0.74. Content and face validations were established by senior experts. A moderate positive correlation between the participants' both-tiers scores and their certainty scores indicated evidence for construct validity. Therefore, the AREPDiT is a reliable and valid instrument not only to identify pre-service teachers' misconceptions about GW, GE, OLD, and AR but also to differentiate these misconceptions from lack of knowledge. The results also reveal that a majority of the respondents demonstrated limited understandings about atmosphere-related environmental problems and held six common misconceptions. Future studies could test the AREPDiT as a tool for assessing the misconceptions held by pre-service teachers from different programs as well as in-service teachers and high school students.