Experiences and practices of evolution instructors at Christian universities that can inform culturally competent evolution education

M. Elizabeth Barnes, Sara E. Brownell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Students’ religious beliefs and religious cultures have been shown to be the main factors predicting whether they will accept evolution, yet college biology instructors teaching evolution at public institutions often have religious beliefs and cultures that are different from their religious students. This difference in religious beliefs and cultures may be a barrier to effective evolution education. To explore when evolution instructors have similar religious cultures and beliefs as their students, we interviewed 32 evolution instructors at Christian universities nationwide about their practices and experiences teaching evolution. Christian university instructors emphasized teaching for acceptance of evolution while holding an inclusive teaching philosophy that they perceived led to a safe environment for students. Additionally, almost all instructors reported using practices that have been shown to increase student acceptance of evolution and reduce student conflict between evolution and religion. Further, we found that these instructors perceived that their own religious backgrounds have guided their decisions to teach evolution to their students in a culturally competent way. We discuss how these data, combined with past research literature on public college instructors, indicate that cultural competence could be a useful new framework for promoting effective evolution education in higher education institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-59
Number of pages24
JournalScience Education
Volume102
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Keywords

  • attitudes
  • cultural competence
  • evolution
  • higher education
  • religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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