Professor attitudes and beliefs about teaching evolution

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Teaching evolution has been shown to be a challenge for faculty, in both K-12 and postsecondary education. Many of these challenges stem from perceived conflicts not only between religion and

Teaching evolution has been shown to be a challenge for faculty, in both K-12 and postsecondary education. Many of these challenges stem from perceived conflicts not only between religion and evolution, but also faculty beliefs about religion, it's compatibility with evolutionary theory, and it's proper role in classroom curriculum. Studies suggest that if educators engage with students' religious beliefs and identity, this may help students have positive attitudes towards evolution. The aim of this study was to reveal attitudes and beliefs professors have about addressing religion and providing religious scientist role models to students when teaching evolution. 15 semi-structured interviews of tenured biology professors were conducted at a large Midwestern universiy regarding their beliefs, experiences, and strategies teaching evolution and particularly, their willingness to address religion in a class section on evolution. Following a qualitative analysis of transcripts, professors did not agree on whether or not it is their job to help students accept evolution (although the majority said it is not), nor did they agree on a definition of "acceptance of evolution". Professors are willing to engage in students' religious beliefs, if this would help their students accept evolution. Finally, professors perceived many challenges to engaging students' religious beliefs in a science classroom such as the appropriateness of the material for a science class, large class sizes, and time constraints. Given the results of this study, the author concludes that instructors must come to a consensus about their goals as biology educators as well as what "acceptance of evolution" means, before they can realistically apply the engagement of student's religious beliefs and identity as an educational strategy.