HOW LANGUAGE AFFECTS STUDENT UNDERSTANDING OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN RELATION TO PLANT PROCESSES
Using Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), we surveyed 183 participants using 24 likert-type statements about personifying plants and 8 likert-type statements about climate change. MTurk is an online crowdsourcing website wherein registered workers complete tasks for pay. The population of MTurk workers is more diverse than that of a typical university.
Using an average of all statements agreed with to calculate a total plant personification score (TPPS), 55% of participants agreed with statements of plant personification. On the item “Plants eat food”, 64% selected, “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree”. Linear modeling revealed no significant relationships between TPPS and demographics (e.g., gender, income). On the item “Global climate change is happening”, 7% selected, “strongly disagree” or “somewhat disagree”. On the item “The recent rapid warming of Earth’s atmospheres and oceans is only a result of natural climate cycles”, 65% selected, “strongly disagree” or “somewhat disagree”. There was no statistically significant relationship between the TPPS and climate change acceptance questions. Thus, a person’s likelihood to incorrectly personify carbon processes related to photosynthesis and plants does not influence their acceptance of climate change.