acceptance of evolution
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2022 ◽  
Jason Wingert ◽  
Gennie Bassett ◽  
Caitlin Terry ◽  
Jimin Lee

Abstract Background: Teleological reasoning is a cognitive bias purported to disrupt student ability to understand natural selection. Few studies have described pedagogical efforts to decrease student endorsement of teleological reasoning and measure the effects of this attenuation on the understanding and acceptance of evolution. This study examined the influence of explicit instructional activities directly challenging student endorsement of teleological explanations for evolutionary adaptations on their learning of natural selection over a semester-long undergraduate course in evolutionary medicine. In a convergent mixed-methods design this study combined pre- and post-semester survey data (N = 83) on understanding natural selection, student endorsement of teleological reasoning, and acceptance of evolution, with thematic analysis of student reflective writing on their understanding and acceptance of natural selection and teleological reasoning.Results: Student endorsement of teleological reasoning decreased and understanding and acceptance of natural selection increased during a course on human evolution with teleological intervention (p£0.0001), compared to a control course. Endorsement of teleological reasoning was predictive of understanding of natural selection prior to the semester. Thematic analysis revealed that students were largely unaware of the concept of teleological reasoning prior to the course, but perceived attenuation of their own teleological reasoning by the end of the semester. Conclusions: Students are unaware of their high levels of endorsement of teleological reasoning upon entrance into the undergraduate human evolution course, which is consequential because teleological reasoning is a predicter of natural selection understanding. We developed class activities to directly challenge student endorsement of unwarranted design teleological reasoning. As a result, students had decreased unwarranted teleological reasoning and increased acceptance and understanding of natural selection over the course of the semester. The data presented show that students are receptive to explicit instructional challenges to their teleological reasoning and that attenuation of this bias is associated with gains in natural selection understanding and acceptance.

2021 ◽  
Vol 14 (1) ◽  
Paul Kuschmierz ◽  
Anna Beniermann ◽  
Alexander Bergmann ◽  
Rianne Pinxten ◽  
Tuomas Aivelo ◽  

Abstract Background Investigations of evolution knowledge and acceptance and their relation are central to evolution education research. Ambiguous results in this field of study demonstrate a variety of measuring issues, for instance differently theorized constructs, or a lack of standardized methods, especially for cross-country comparisons. In particular, meaningful comparisons across European countries, with their varying cultural backgrounds and education systems, are rare, often include only few countries, and lack standardization. To address these deficits, we conducted a standardized European survey, on 9200 first-year university students in 26 European countries utilizing a validated, comprehensive questionnaire, the “Evolution Education Questionnaire”, to assess evolution acceptance and knowledge, as well as influencing factors on evolution acceptance. Results We found that, despite European countries’ different cultural backgrounds and education systems, European first-year university students generally accept evolution. At the same time, they lack substantial knowledge about it, even if they are enrolled in a biology-related study program. Additionally, we developed a multilevel-model that determines religious faith as the main influencing factor in accepting evolution. According to our model, knowledge about evolution and interest in biological topics also increase acceptance of evolution, but to a much lesser extent than religious faith. The effect of age and sex, as well as the country’s affiliation, students’ denomination, and whether or not a student is enrolled in a biology-related university program, is negligible. Conclusions Our findings indicate that, despite all their differences, most of the European education systems for upper secondary education lead to acceptance of evolution at least in university students. It appears that, at least in this sample, the differences in knowledge between countries reflect neither the extent to which school curricula cover evolutionary biology nor the percentage of biology-related students in the country samples. Future studies should investigate the role of different European school curricula, identify particularly problematic or underrepresented evolutionary concepts in biology education, and analyze the role of religious faith when teaching evolution.

2021 ◽  
pp. 096366252110359
Jon D. Miller ◽  
Eugenie C. Scott ◽  
Mark S. Ackerman ◽  
Belén Laspra ◽  
Glenn Branch ◽  

The public acceptance of evolution in the United States is a long-standing problem. Using data from a series of national surveys collected over the last 35 years, we find that the level of public acceptance of evolution has increased in the last decade after at least two decades in which the public was nearly evenly divided on the issue. A structural equation model indicates that increasing enrollment in baccalaureate-level programs, exposure to college-level science courses, a declining level of religious fundamentalism, and a rising level of civic scientific literacy are responsible for the increased level of public acceptance.

PLoS ONE ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 16 (8) ◽  
pp. e0255588
M. Elizabeth Barnes ◽  
Julie A. Roberts ◽  
Samantha A. Maas ◽  
Sara E. Brownell

Evolution is a prominent component of biology education and remains controversial among college biology students in the United States who are mostly Christian, but science education researchers have not explored the attitudes of Muslim biology students in the United States. To explore perceptions of evolution among Muslim students in the United States, we surveyed 7,909 college students in 52 biology classes in 13 states about their acceptance of evolution, interest in evolution, and understanding of evolution. Muslim students in our sample, on average, did not agree with items that measured acceptance of macroevolution and human evolution. Further, on average, Muslim students agreed, but did not strongly agree with items measuring microevolution acceptance. Controlling for gender, major, race/ethnicity, and international status, we found that the evolution acceptance and interest levels of Muslim students were slightly higher than Protestant students and students who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, Muslim student evolution acceptance levels were significantly lower than Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu students as well as students who did not identify with a religion (agnostic and atheists). Muslim student understanding of evolution was similar to students from other affiliations, but was lower than agnostic and atheist students. We also examined which variables are associated with Muslim student acceptance of evolution and found that higher understanding of evolution and lower religiosity are positive predictors of evolution acceptance among Muslim students, which is similar to the broader population of biology students. These data are the first to document that Muslim students have lower acceptance of evolution compared to students from other affiliations in undergraduate biology classrooms in the United States.

2021 ◽  
Vol 1 (1) ◽  
pp. 33-44
Odessa D. Aberilla ◽  
Monera H. Salic ◽  
Ronaldo R. Orbita ◽  
Joy B. Bagaloyos ◽  
Cesar G. Demayo ◽  

This study was conducted to explore the overall acceptance of evolution among undergraduate students in a State University as basis for developing a STEM-based instructional design to address the misconceptions about evolution. The research was conducted using the 20-item questionnaires of the Measurement of Acceptance of the Theory of Evolution (MATE) instrument assessing undergraduate students' acceptance of evolution in relations to; the process of evolution, the scientific validity of the evolutionary theory, the evolution of humans, evidence of evolution, scientific community's view of evolution and age of the Earth. The study is within a quantitative and qualitative framework using descriptive and inferential analysis. The findings revealed that all the colleges in the science group acquired a moderate level of acceptance except for the CED non-science group who received a low degree of acceptance of the theory of evolution. Although among the six concepts in the study, they generally agree on the statements and only in the idea on the age of the earth where the students were undecided. This research confirms that the level of acceptance is not positively related to the students' specialization. Based on the result of this study there is a need to develop a STEM based instructional design and this should be emphasized in the science curriculum. The teaching design will fill in the gaps in understanding concepts of evolution and its significance to the lives of many organisms and for the teachers to look evolution from very broad flexible and interdisciplinary perspectives.

2021 ◽  
pp. 096366252110068
Mingjun Zhang ◽  
Deena Skolnick Weisberg ◽  
Jing Zhu ◽  
Michael Weisberg

Prior work has found that Americans’ views on evolution are significantly and positively related to their understanding of this theory. However, whether this relationship is cross-culturally robust is unknown. This article extends earlier work by measuring and comparing the acceptance and understanding of evolution among highly educated individuals in China and the United States. We find a significantly higher evolution acceptance level in the Chinese sample than in the US sample, but no significant difference in their average levels of evolution knowledge. Our analysis also shows that accepting evolutionary theory is related to understanding in both the US and the Chinese samples. These results provide evidence for the robustness of the relationship between understanding and acceptance of evolution across different cultural contexts. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to comprehensively test understanding of evolutionary theory within a Chinese sample and to compare these results with the US sample.

2021 ◽  
pp. 096366252198951
Amy Unsworth ◽  
David Voas

The role of science popularization remains relatively under-explored in research on contemporary public acceptance of evolution. In this study, we analyse national survey data to interrogate the role Britain’s best-known celebrity scientists David Attenborough, Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking may have played in changing public views of evolution, as well as the role of two creationists: Ken Ham and Harun Yahya. We investigate how well known these public figures are, what their views of religion are perceived to be and, drawing on social identity theory, whether they exert different effects on attitudinal change to evolution among different religious and non-religious publics. Binary logistic regression analysis shows that among Muslim and Pentecostal Christian publics, those familiar with Dawkins as both a scientist and as someone who holds negative views of religion are more likely to have become less accepting of evolution. Conversely, among non-religious publics, Dawkins was the only celebrity scientist associated with higher odds of becoming more accepting of evolution. We suggest that engaging certain religious audiences with the science of evolutionary biology may be more effective when their religious identities are not threatened.

2020 ◽  
pp. 096366252097770
Deena Skolnick Weisberg ◽  
Asheley R. Landrum ◽  
Jesse Hamilton ◽  
Michael Weisberg

While people’s views about science are related to identity factors (e.g. political orientation) and to knowledge of scientific theories, knowledge about how science works in general also plays an important role. To test this claim, we administered two detailed assessments about the practices of science to a demographically representative sample of the US public ( N = 1500), along with questions about the acceptance of evolution, climate change, and vaccines. Participants’ political and religious views predicted their acceptance of scientific claims, as in prior work. But a greater knowledge of the nature of science and a more mature view of how to mitigate scientific disagreements each related positively to acceptance. Importantly, the positive effect of scientific thinking on acceptance held regardless of participants’ political ideology or religiosity. Increased attention to developing people’s knowledge of how science works could thus help to combat resistance to scientific claims across the political and religious spectrum.

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