University Evolution Education: The Effect of Evolution Instruction on Biology Majors’ Content Knowledge, Attitude Toward Evolution, and Theistic Position

Rice, Justin
Olson, Joane
Colbert, James
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Issues regarding understanding of evolution and resistance to evolution education in the United States are of key importance to biology educators at all levels. While research has measured student views toward evolution at single points in time, few studies have been published investigating whether views of college seniors are any different than first-year students in the same degree program. Additionally, students choosing to major in biological sciences have largely been overlooked, as if their acceptance of evolution is assumed. This study investigated the understanding of evolution and attitude toward evolution held by students majoring in biological science during their first and fourth years in a public research university. Participants included students in a first-year introductory biology course intended for biological science majors and graduating seniors earning degrees in either biology or genetics. The portion of the survey reported here consisted of quantitative measures of students’ understanding of core concepts of evolution and their attitude toward evolution. The results indicate that students’ understanding of particular evolutionary concepts is significantly higher among seniors, but their attitude toward evolution is only slightly improved compared to their first-year student peers. When comparing first-year students and seniors, students’ theistic position was not significantly different.


This article is fro, Evolution: Education and Outreach 4 (2011): 137, doi:10.1007/s12052-010-0289-y. Posted with permission.

Science education, Teaching, Biological evolution, Creationism, Acceptance of evolution