Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Science Teaching


Jason Wiles


Biology Education, College Science Teaching, Current Events, Evolution Education, Pedagogical Tools, Relevance

Subject Categories

Education | Science and Mathematics Education


This investigation evaluated the effects of the use of the pedagogical tool "Evo in the News" on the attitudes toward and knowledge of biological evolution in a sample of undergraduate non-major biology students at a large, private research university. In addition, this study looked at the initial attitudes of the students and their knowledge of evolution before beginning a second semester introductory biology course. Both the initial attitudes and knowledge of the students and the gains in positive attitudes and knowledge were measured using the Evolutionary Attitudes and Literacy Survey (EALS). The goal of the research was to analyze potential gains using a quasi-experimental design with pre-test/post-test comparison between a control group and a treatment group. The control group and treatment group differed in that throughout the course of the semester, the treatment group was assigned pre-laboratory work using the "Evo in the News" tool while the control group was assigned pre-lab work without "Evo in the News". Although it was anticipated that the students would begin the semester at a higher level of knowledge and positive attitudes than the general population, the findings suggested that a large percentage of the students harbored significant misconceptions, lack of understanding, and negative attitudes regarding biological evolution at the beginning of the semester. At the conclusion of the semester, significant gains were found in two constructs on the EALS. The treatment group showed significant improvement in one attitudes construct, relevance of evolution, and in one knowledge construct, genetic literacy when the pre-surveys and post-surveys were compared. Additional findings demonstrated a significant correlation between positive attitudes toward evolution and knowledge of evolution. Also, significant correlations were found between both positive attitudes toward and knowledge of evolution and the students' level of achievement as measured by their final course grades.


Open Access