Muslim undergraduate biology students' evolution acceptance in the United States

M. Elizabeth Barnes, Julie A. Roberts, Samantha A. Maas, Sara E. Brownell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0255588
JournalPloS one
Volume16
Issue number8 August
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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