Study: High school teachers influence student views of evolution, creationism

College students' views about evolution and creationism are often shaped by what they learned in their high school biology classes, according to a University of Minnesota study published in the May issue of BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Co-authors Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner, professors in the College of Biological Sciences, surveyed 1,000 taking introductory biology classes at the University of Minnesota to learn how biology majors view compared to non-majors. Results showed that the two groups' views were similar and revealed that high school biology teachers influence whether majors and non-majors accept evolution or question it based on creationism.

About two thirds of students from both groups said their high school biology class included evolution and not creationism. Only 1 to 2 percent of classes covered creationism and not evolution. And 6 to 13 percent of classes did not cover either evolution or creationism. But 29 percent of majors and 21 percent of non-majors said their high school biology class covered both evolution and creationism.

Students whose high school biology class included creationism (with or without evolution) were more likely to accept creationist views as entering college students. Similarly, students exposed to evolutionism but not creationism were more likely to accept evolution in college. For example, 72 to 78 percent of students exposed to evolution only agreed that it is scientifically valid while 57 to 59 percent of students who were exposed to creationism agreed that it can be validated.

"I've long known that many biology teachers teach creationism, but was surprised to learn they have such a strong impact," said Randy Moore, professor of biology and lead author. "It's unfortunate that so many teachers think their are science. Teachers who don't teach evolution deny students the understanding of one of the greatest principles in history."

"I was shocked that there weren't bigger differences between majors and non-majors," said Sehoya Cotner, associate professor of biology. "Evolution is the foundation of the entire discipline. It leads me to believe that these students are probably interested in biology for reasons besides gaining a full understanding and appreciation of the science."

The article included a review of previous studies that explain why so many high school biology teachers endorse creationism. The studies say that more than 25 percent of biology teachers do not know it is unconstitutional to teach creationism. One third didn't major in biology in college and never studied evolution. One fourth believe that creationism can be proven scientifically. Administrators, parents or colleagues may pressure them. There are usually no consequences for teachers who do not cover evolution or who teach creationism.

The authors are interested in working with biology teachers -- and particularly with college students who plan to teach biology -- to improve their understanding of evolution and develop best practices for covering sensitive topics such as human evolution and life's origins.

Source: University of Minnesota (news : web)

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May 01, 2009
This is ridiculous.
Creationism is not science.
Science does not take faith to understand.
Evolution is a proven theory.
These teachers should be disciplined or fired.

May 01, 2009
I get so bored with the "Evolution is a theory and it takes faith too" meme that comes up every time there's an article that references creationism.

I'm tempted to write up a standard response so I can cut and paste when it comes up.

May 01, 2009
Interesting, you give both theorys to people, and they think Evolution is bunk..... says a lot about the bunk theory of Evolution. That is why evolutionist try so hard to ban Creationism, because if it is taught or even mentioned, it proves itself a better theory.

May 02, 2009
That is why evolutionist try so hard to ban Creationism, because if it is taught or even mentioned, it proves itself a better theory.

Creationism isn't a theory, it's not even a hypothesis. It has nothing testable and it makes no claims other than "magic man did it".

The people who are likely to be swayed by creationism were abused by religious indoctrination as a child.

May 02, 2009
The reason people like creationism is that it claims to have all the 'answers' and so it feels like science. It's comforting to know that life has a meaning, right?
Creationism is like steady-state theory, a flat world and astrology. Pity science has NOTHING to do with aesthetics.
So remember, kids, the Bible isn't a peer review journal. And the editor doesn't acknowledge his sources.

May 02, 2009
This is ridiculous.

Creationism is not science.

Science does not take faith to understand.

Evolution is a proven theory.

These teachers should be disciplined or fired.

What a ridiculous statement. Evolution isn't anywhere close to being proven. How deluded can one be? Frankly, it doesn't even deserve the term theory. It is only a hypothesis at best. So many unanswered questions such as the absence of a supporting fossil record, or the essential trigger that enables nonlife forms to one day have life. Until these are answered, nothing is proven. Evolution isn't supported by anything but faith.

May 02, 2009
The theory of evolution theory is to describe HOW evolution takes place, NOT that evolution doesn't take place.

You simply need to look no further than all the different dog breeds from wolves to see controlled evolution. Or better yet, look at the flu.

To say evolution hasn't been proven by observations in many experiments shows gross ignorance on the part of those making the statement(See Ben Stein's propaganda movie).

May 02, 2009
OK, explain how a Mantis Shrimp evolved (in the complete absence of any selection pressure) UV sight (we see & mix 3 colours, it seems 16, 4 of them UV) & sensitivity to polarised light (2 variants see all 15 kinds, the rest see only circularly polarised) underwater?

That is but one of many hundreds of living examples which it takes blind faith in evolution to bypass.

Then we can turn to the eyes of trilobites.

Or never-living features like the quasar in Stephan's Quintet, or Valles Marineris (flat bottom, steep sides, right-angle valley crossings etc)...

May 03, 2009
Evolution theory extends the observation that populations can change due to natural (or human mediated) selection and that those changes can result in the appearance of new creatures.

Actually, evolution (in this case change to adapt to new surroundings) has been observed and documented in the wild. Moths have been observed to select for new colors when the forests they live in have undergone a change in the dominant species of tree.
This constitutes an observational proof of evolution. It does not prove the evolution of man from apes (or hominids) but it adds weight to the theory.

May 03, 2009
Adapting to new surroundings or circumstances and the addition of new genetic information are two completely different things! Only when the second one happens is it really evolution and there has never been a single documented case of that! By the sounds of it, most of the people who posted here don't really know what evolution is (gives weight to the whole blind faith in evolution thing).
I am sick and tired of the those who are part of the religion of evolution which rejects all that does not fit its theory. Darwin himself would have rejected his own theory had he know the kinds of things we know today about life. If you don't believe that then you haven't read his stuff.
As for those that completely discard creationism on the basis of it being a religious view, you are not scientists but only priests in the religion of evolution. Science does not discriminate based on the origins of a theory. It takes facts as they are and pursues ANY theory that could account for them!

May 04, 2009
If Evolution was the better theory, then if it is taught along side Creationism, students should believe in evolution, especially since all the media, TV and Books, keep stating Evolution as fact and all of the media redicules Creationism.

But the funny thing is, even though the media ridicules Creationism, and most teachers dont mention Creationism, most students dont believe in Evolution. Why? Because evolution theory is full of holes.

Since evolution is such a weak theory, taught by weak minded dogmatic individuals, Evolutionist need to force the belief of evolution on students. Just like natzis forced their belief on children. What next? Laws to prevent creationism being mentioned in churches, or homes. How about jail time for those that admit they dont believe in it? What about losing ones job for saying it isnt true (wait teachers have lost their jobs for saying it isnt true!)

I love debating Evolutionism vs Creationism. I know the theory of evolution so well, and better than dogmatic evolutionists (and so do my children), that it is easy to present facts that show it is a very weak theory that only the willfully ignorant, or athiest (at least they admit the reason they dont believe in creationism) can believe.

For Truth.... for your information, if you make your own church you can preach evolution, also Im sure my pastor would allow you to present evolutionist viewpoint at our church so we can debate the point. So now, you agree we can preach creationism at public schools?

May 04, 2009
I suppose you could say that relativity has "disproven" the physics that took us to the Moon (Newtonian mechanics), but it makes more sense to say that relativity is a refinement of the Newtonian model. All theories are models of the world that provide explanations for what we observe. Let us suppose that Evolution was "wrong", but then we need to find a better explanation why we share 90% of our genome with chimpanzees. Creationism does not provide a better explanation for this observation, and thus Evolution is a better model of the world. This does not eliminate the possibility that there's a better explanation, just that evolution is the best model we have managed so far.

May 04, 2009
fcnotpdaaj, you wrote:

it is easy to present facts that show it is a very weak theory

I'll bite. I need to sharpen my skills anyhow. So. Present a couple facts please.

May 08, 2009
The most ridiculous part of this is the fact that someone would do a study to determine if high-school level instruction shapes ideas and views of the students in it...

Umm... Duh...

This is further proof to me of how disconnected from reality many of these social scientists are.

For instance i don't need a study to tell me that young people educated at the high-school level in North Korea or in Saudi Arabia are going to have vastly, wildly different beliefs and world views from anyone educated in ANY high school in the U.S.

I find this assumption over and over in American liberals. American libs think that everyone in the world really thinks just like they do and wants the same things in life but that oppressive forces prevent them from living in harmony with nature, each other, etc.

I've lived on every continent in the world except Antarctica and I will tell you that bonhomie and live and let live attitudes are few and far between even in well-industrialized countries. American libs would be shocked at the level of hate the average Kurd has toward the average Turk, or how the average Serb or Croat would leap at the opportunity to hack the Bosnians who live in the village down the road to pieces.

These kinds of hatreds spawn from unceasing cycles of retribution going back generations, something which only americans who have traveled and lived abroad can really understand. I assume the authors of this research have never lived anywhere where people run around with blood lust revenge always present in their mind or else they would not have needed to waste their time studying whether or not children's world-views are shaped by what they are taught in high-school or high-school equivalent.

Oh and i will send them a note letting them know that the teaching and opinions of parents also affect the views of children...

They may feel the need to conduct another study just from that wild idea alone...

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