Teachers' Needs Assessment

The Needs Assessment Survey

In the fall of 2007 Dr. Alan Stewart conducted an online survey of 691 teachers in Georgia (78% women, 22% men) to determine their: 1. perceptions of the proportion of students who were prepared for weather and other natural disasters; 2. perception of how important it was to teach students about weather and weather-related safety; 3. satisfaction with currently-available curricular materials for teaching students about weather and other natural hazard safety; and 4. awareness and past use of the Masters of Disaster curriculum; and 5. interest in attending a workshop that would train them in the MoD curriculum and enable them to share the curriculum with their colleagues.

Teachers Reported That Their Students Needed Weather Science and Safety Education

On average, the teachers reported that approximately 57% of students were not adequately prepared for severe or extreme weather events. Teachers reported that it was very important to them to teach their students about weather safety. Science teachers tended to report the highest values of the importance of such teaching. Teachers reported spending a mean of 9.5 hours per year teaching their students about weather and climate concepts in general, of which a mean of 4.3 hours was devoted to weather safety education. Approximately 40% of the respondents thought it was important to teach students about the weather related hazards specific to their locale while 51% of the teachers indicated that it was important not only to cover locally-occurring hazards but all weather and natural hazard sources.

Overall, teachers were somewhat dissatisfied to neutral regarding the quality of the teaching resources on weather and climate in general and with teaching resources regarding weather safety. Science teachers were significantly more dissatisfied with resources for teaching students about weather safety compared to teachers of other academic subjects.

Few Teachers Were Aware of the Masters of Disaster Curriculum

Despite its availability since 2001, only 46 (7%) of the 691 Georgia teachers were aware that the Masters of Disaster curriculum existed; over half of those who were aware of MoD were science teachers. Of the teachers who knew that the MoD curriculum existed, a majority of them indicated they had no or only slight familiarity with the curriculum. Consequently it is not surprising that only 2% of the teachers had ever taught one or more lessons from the MoD curriculum within the past academic year. Approximately 72% of the survey respondents were interested in learning how they could obtain a copy of the MoD curriculum materials. Furthermore, 157 (23%) of 691 Georgia teachers were interested in attending a professional development workshop on the Masters of Disaster curriculum and also in disseminating and promoting the curriculum to their fellow teachers.

Teachers May Receive Little Formal Training About Weather and Climate

These results are not surprising in the broader context of Georgia teacher preparation requirements. Georgia requires 30 semester hours in at least two of the teaching areas applicable to middle school, but it does not require teachers to take science courses in order to be assigned to teaching science. In addition new teachers are no longer held to the former requirement to take two laboratory science and one science