Impact of a Short Evolution Module on Students' Perceived Conflict between Religion and Evolution

M. Elizabeth Barnes, James Elser, Sara Brownell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Evolution has historically been a topic in biology that is fraught with controversy, and a conflict between religion and evolution is often assumed. If students perceive that evolution is in conflict with their religious beliefs, it can have negative ramifications for their learning of evolution and attitudes toward science. However, religion and evolution have been argued to be compatible. An instructor can incorporate a discussion of this compatibility into their teaching, but the impact of this on students' perceptions of compatibility is still unknown. In this study, we describe a two-week module on evolution with embedded discussion about compatibility between religion and evolution. We surveyed introductory biology students before and after this evolution module about whether they thought evolution and religion could be compatible. We found that the evolution module reduced the number of students who perceived a conflict between evolution and religion by 50 percent. Unexpectedly, perceived conflict between religion and evolution was reduced for both religious and nonreligious students. These results indicate that how instructors present a module on evolution can have an impact on student perceptions of compatibility between religion and evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-111
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Biology Teacher
Volume79
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Keywords

  • acceptance of evolution
  • attitudes
  • curriculum
  • evolution
  • religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of a Short Evolution Module on Students' Perceived Conflict between Religion and Evolution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this