Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM
DOES INCREASING SCIENCE TEACHERS' KNOWLEDGE OF EVOLUTION AND THE NATURE OF SCIENCE TRANSLATE INTO GREATER ADVOCACY FOR TEACHING EVOLUTION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS?
This study investigated whether an increase in secondary science teacher knowledge about evolution and the nature of science gained from completing a 14-week graduate-level evolution intervention was associated with greater advocacy for teaching evolution in schools. Forty-four pre-certified secondary biology teachers participated in a 14 week intervention designed to address misconceptions documented using a pretest instrument. The instrument assessed teacher knowledge and belief using a series of Likert-scale and essay questions. Teacher knowledge about evolution and the nature of science was quantified as two separate variables (ENOS: Nature Of Science knowledge relevant to Evolution, and ECK: Evolution Content Knowledge). Advocacy for teaching evolution was measured by asking teachers to self-report their preferences for children (1) being taught and/or (2) believing evolution and/or creationism (defined broadly as biblical creation, intelligent design, and/or creation science). Statistical comparisons of pre- and post-test scores were studied to determine the magnitude of success in increasing teacher knowledge about evolution and the nature of science. Statistical comparisons were also made between measures of teacher advocacy for children being taught and/or believing creationism before and after the course. In addition, ENOS and ECK scores were studied in relation to: (1) teacher self-reported religiosity; (2) number of semesters of biology taken; and (3) prior completion of an undergraduate evolution course. In this sample of 44 pre-certified science teachers I document statistically significant gains in teacher knowledge of both evolution and the nature of science after taking the evolution intervention, but no significant change in teacher preferences for students believing or being taught creationism in schools. This study raises the question of whether knowledge of evolution and the nature of science alone is a realistic strategy for changing teachers' secondary science instruction.