EVIDENCE OF POOR EVOLUTION EDUCATION AMONG SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Using Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), a survey of six valid multiple choice evolution understanding items was administered to 305 participants, 63 from SE states and 242 from non-SE states. We used Turk because the results are fast and more diverse than a random sampling of the general public. In addition, the six questions also were asked to 157 students attending a medium-sized public liberal arts university in western North Carolina. We also asked participants to provide demographics and to complete a religiosity scale.
The MTurk population from non-SE states scored significantly higher (3.6 out of 6) than then the college students (2.7; p < 0.001). Thus, the general public from the non-SE has a better understanding of evolution than those enrolled in a university in the south. MTurk participants from SE states also had a significantly higher score (3.1) than the southern university students (p = 0.04). This finding is troubling in that a population of university students in the south, who mostly attended high school in the SE, has a poorer understanding of evolution than the southern general public. This difference was likely influenced by the higher religiosity of the university students compared to those on MTurk. Gender, ethnicity, and income had no effect on score for any population. These results suggest that students from the south attending college have not had sufficient biological education.