Students' Understanding of Science and the Knowledge and Acceptance of Evolution Theory.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)

Abstract

Evolution theory is one of the most powerful explanations of the living world. Evolution plays a part in cosmology, geology and many social sciences as well as in biology. However, the scientific community faces the growing success of pseudo- and even anti-scientific actions and tendencies with apprehension. After the US, biology teachers in Europe are increasingly confronted with students' rebellion against lessons on evolution theory or with students who reject evolution theory. Quite some teachers decide to a pragmatic attitude in order to 'survive' in the classroom.
Youngsters recognize the importance of science but they do not always distinguish between opinions and scientific conclusions. De relationship between understanding and acceptation of evolution theory seems to be a complex one. Several studies in educational contexts suggest that there is no significant correlation between both (e.g. Bishop & Anderson, 1990; Brem et al., 2003; Demastes et al., 1995; Lord & Marino, 1993; Sinatra et al., 2003). Some researchers start from the assumption that not accepting a scientific construct puts up a barrier for acquiring scientific knowledge about that construct (Meadows et al., 2000; Smith, 1994). Others suggest that the relationship is just the opposite: understanding of a theory as a prerequisite for acceptation.
In this study we want to gain an insight in the precise nature of the relationship between students' understanding of evolution theory, epistemological beliefs and acceptation of biological evolution.
As a first step we administered a questionnaire to a multi-stage sample (schools, classes, students) of more than 1500 last year students in higher education. The questionnaires comprised questions on educational background, features of home environment and religious background, social and cultural participation, scientific knowledge on evolution theory, sources of information, acceptance of evolution theory, and beliefs about the nature of science and religion.

In the paper we report findings about the state of students' understanding and acceptation of evolution and the complex way they relate to each other.


References
Bishop, B. & Anderson, C. (1990). Student conceptions of natural selection and its role in evolution. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 27, 415-427.
Brem, S., Ranney, M. & Schindel, J. (2003). Perceived Consequences of Evolution: College Students Perceive Negative Personal and Social Impact in Evolutionary Theory. Science Education, 87, 181-206.
Demastes, S., Settlage, J. & Good, R. (1995). Students' conceptions of natural selection and its role in evolution: Cases of replication and comparison. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32, 535-550.
Lord, T. & Marino, S. (1993). How university students view the theory of evolution. Journal of College Science Teaching, 22, 353-357.
Meadows, L., Doster, E. & Jackson, D (2000). Managing the conflict between evolution and religion. American Biology Teacher, 62, 102-107.
Sinatra, G., Southerland, S., Conaughy, F. & Demastes, J. (2003). Intentions and Beliefs in Students' Understanding and Acceptance of Biological Evolution. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40 (5), 510-528.
Smith, M.(1994). Counterpoint: Belief, understanding, and the teaching of evolution. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31, 591-597.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Social Sciences, Izmir Turkey
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventUnknown -
Duration: 1 Jan 2011 → …

Conference

ConferenceUnknown
Period1/01/11 → …

Keywords

  • evolution theory
  • biology teaching
  • beliefs

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