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Publication

Exploring Freshmen Undergraduates' Acceptance of the Theory of Evolution and Views of Nature of Science

Heaton, Leigh Brenna
Abstract
Understanding the mechanisms of evolution can help lead to advancements in science, technology, medicine, and agriculture. To enhance student understanding of the Theory of Evolution, science education organizations encourage the teaching of evolution in the K-12 science curriculum. Additionally, holding informed views of nature of science (NOS) has also been suggested to enhance student acceptance of the Theory of Evolution. The purpose of this survey-based research study was to explore the acceptance levels of the Theory of Evolution and views of NOS held by freshmen undergraduates attending a research university in Oklahoma.
An online Qualtrics survey was used to assess the levels of acceptance of the Theory of Evolution and views of NOS held by 377 freshmen undergraduate students. The instruments used in this study included the Measurement of the Acceptance of the Theory of Evolution (MATE; Rutledge & Warden, 1999) and the Student Understanding of Science and Scientific Inquiry (SUSSI; Liang et al., 2006). Further, the influence of participants' demographics on their acceptance levels of the Theory of Evolution and views of NOS were also explored. The following demographic variables were included in this study: gender, STEM major, high school community, religious views, religiosity, political views, science classes taken in high school, exposure to the teaching of evolution and creationism in high school, and in-state/out-of-state tuition.
The results of this study revealed: 1) the majority of participants held moderate or high levels of acceptance of the Theory of Evolution; 2) religious views, religiosity, and political views were found to significantly influence participants' acceptance of the Theory of Evolution; 3) the majority of participants held transitional views of NOS, except for Scientific Laws and Theories and Methodology in Scientific Investigations, in which the majority of participants held naive views; 4) none of the demographic variables were found to significantly influence views of NOS; and 5) a relationship between participants' acceptance of the Theory of Evolution and their views of NOS was not identified.
Date
2019-05-01