The effects of evolution education: Examining attitudes toward and knowledge of evolution in college courses

Stephen D. Short, Patricia H. Hawley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study examined changes in university students' attitudes toward and knowledge of evolution measured by the previously validated Evolutionary Attitudes and Literacy Survey (EALS) in response to curricular content. Specifically, student responses on the survey were compared across an evolutionary psychology course, an introductory biology course with significant evolutionary content, and a political science course with no evolutionary content. To this end, 868 students were assessed at a large Midwestern U.S. university prior to and following completion of one of the three courses. A multiple group repeated measures confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to examine latent mean differences in self-reported Evolution Knowledge/Relevance, Creationist Reasoning, Evolutionary Misconceptions, and Exposure to Evolution. A significant and notable increase in Knowledge/Relevance, as well as decreases in Creationist Reasoning and Evolutionary Misconceptions, was observed for the evolutionary psychology course, whereas the biology course demonstrated no change in Knowledge/Relevance and a significant increase in Evolutionary Misconceptions. The implications of these findings for evolution education are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-88
Number of pages22
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Creationist reasoning
  • Education
  • Evolutionary Attitudes and Literacy Survey
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Misconceptions

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