2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 17
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Student Attitudes Relative to Scientific Inquiry, Evolution, and Creationsim In Introductory Science Courses at a Small College In West Virginia

CRISP, Edward L., Geology Dept, West Virginia Univ at Parkersburg, Parkersburg, WV 26104, Ed.Crisp@mail.wvu.edu

Science attitudes surveys that stressed the nature of scientific inquiry, acceptance of evolutionary theory, and belief in creationism were administered to 421 students in physical science, earth science, physical geology, astronomy, and some sections of biology during the interval from the summer of 2005 through the summer of 2007 at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. About 50% of these students are elementary education majors, several of which are specializing in science or math. Both pre-course surveys and post-course surveys were administered on an anonymous and volunteer basis. Results of the survey indicate that a high percentage of the students have a poor understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry and a large number of the students do not accept evolutionary theory. Further, the results appear to indicate that many believe in some form of creationism. Even the post-course surveys indicate that a high percentage of students favor the teaching of “creation science” alongside evolution in the science classroom. For example, pre-course surveys indicate that 59% of the 421 students think that “creation science” should be taught in the public schools alongside evolutionary theory. This only decreased to 51% for the 307 students that completed the post-course surveys. Further, although the majority (60% pre, 71% post) of the students surveyed accept biologic evolution as a fact, the students are less comfortable with the concept that modern man and modern great apes had a common ancestor several million years ago, with only 41% pre and 51% post accepting this view. With the dangers to science education inherent in the intelligent design creationism movement, explaining evolutionary theory and its strong basis in sound scientific inquiry in introductory college science classes is extremely important if we are going to prevent the teaching of pseudoscience in our public school science classrooms.