Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:10 AM
GROWING UP IN THE SOUTH: A ROADBLOCK TO UNDERSTANDING AND ACCEPTANCE OF GEOLOGIC TIME CONCEPTS AT THE COLLEGE LEVEL?
Teaching the concept of geologic time may be met with resistance at the college-level in the southeastern U.S., where religious views of a Young Earth are pervasive. We created an on-line questionnaire to learn about the potential connections between students’ ideas about geologic time and their religious views. The survey was administered at the end of a semester in a general education geology course taught at a southeastern U.S. college. All students surveyed indicated that they grew up in “the South,” as designated by the U.S. Federal Government. The majority of those surveyed self-identified as being religious and/or as having been raised in a religious household (80%), including all of the science majors (10% of surveyed). Of the science majors, 75% indicated that they believed the Earth is 4.56 Ga; all science majors indicated they felt well informed about the concept of geologic time. Of the religious, non-science majors, 57% indicated that they believed the Earth is 4.56 Ga. Of the remaining religious students, only 11% indicated that they believed the Earth is 6,000 years old. These students cited The Bible, and/or interpretations based on it, as evidence for this belief. Most of the religious, non-science majors indicated that they felt well informed about the concept of geologic time. Of the non-religious students (20% of surveyed students), all indicated they believed the Earth is 4.56 Ga despite 63% having been raised in a religious household. Non-religious students also indicated that they felt well informed about the concept of geologic time. Within our sampled population in a southeastern college (n=40), it appears that religious upbringing did not impede students’ ability to accept the concept of geologic time. To further probe the possible connections between students’ ideas about geologic time and their religious views, this questionnaire will be administered in other courses as a pre- and post-instruction survey. Administering the questionnaire in this fashion will (a) provide additional data that can be used to establish the validity and reliability of the instrument, (b) allow us to determine if and to what extent course instruction on geologic time has an impact on students’ views of geologic time, and (c) increase the sample population so that more generalizable conclusions might be drawn.