Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Biology

Advisor(s)

Jason R. Wiles

Keywords

acceptance of evolution, evolution acceptance, mixed methods, nature of science, religiosity, undergraduate

Subject Categories

Life Sciences

Abstract

Decades of research into the acceptance of evolutionary biology have revealed a number of factors that are related to an individual’s choice to accept or reject evolutionary biology. This work seeks to extend that work in the following key ways: (1) Use a longitudinal time frame, along with multifactorial linear modeling, to investigate the changes in evolution acceptance and its associated factors across a year of introductory biology education. (2) Expand the study population to a general undergraduate population, and study the change in acceptance of evolution in this general student population across the first semester of university education. (3) Use qualitative methods to interview students from the general undergraduate population to gain a more nuanced understanding into the specific reasons individuals choose to accept or reject evolutionary biology.

Results from this work show that students enrolled in introductory biology and a more general student population have very similar associations between their acceptance of evolution and related variables. Specifically, changes in students’ acceptance of evolution is positively and significantly related to changes in their knowledge of evolution and understanding of the nature of science, while increasing acceptance of evolution is significantly related to a decrease in religiosity. Upon interview, students were able to articulate well how their religious views influenced their acceptance of evolution, but did not discuss as much about how their understanding of science influenced their acceptance of evolution. Together, these results help us to understand the reasons behind an individual’s acceptance or rejection of evolutionary biology, while showing areas that are ripe for future study.

Access

Open Access

Available for download on Saturday, September 10, 2022

Included in

Life Sciences Commons

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