Teaching Evolution Essay

2642 words - 11 pages

Teaching Evolution: Pre- and Post-Instructional Analysis of Teacher and Student Attitudes and Knowledge BACKGROUND INFORMATION Professional biologists overwhelmingly accept that evolution is the mechanism through which life on our planet originated and diversified, and continues to diversify. However, the general public remains predominantly ignorant due to lack of education on the subject and the misconception that belief in a supernatural creator precludes the fact of evolution.The reason for lack of evolution education in our schools is due to religion-based policies prohibiting or stifling the teaching, or due to teachers who themselves are unwilling or unable to teach the subject.Biological evolution refers to the scientific theory that living things share ancestors from which they have diverged: Darwin called it "descent with modification." There is abundant and consistent evidence from astronomy, physics, biochemistry, geochronology, geology, biology, anthropology and other sciences that evolution has taken place.As such, evolution is a unifying concept for science.There is no longer a debate among scientists over whether evolution has taken place. There is considerable debate about how evolution has taken place: the processes and mechanisms producing change, and what has happened during the history of the universe (Murphy 2001).One of the problems facing science educators today is the continuing attempts of creationists to include the teaching of the Genesis version of creation in science curricula. Proponents of equal time for creation feel that the doctrine of divine creation is as much a scientific theory as the theory of evolution. They also feel it is the right of the student to be taught both theories of origins (Grose and Simpson 1982).Creationism is the idea that a supernatural power or powers created. Creationist claims have been discredited by the available evidence. They have no power to explain the natural world and its diverse phenomena. As noted in the National Science Education Standards "Explanations on how the natural world changed based on myths, personal beliefs, religious values, mystical inspiration, superstition, or authority may be personally useful and socially relevant, but they are not scientific." Because science can only use natural explanations and not supernatural ones, science teachers should not advocate any religious view about creation, nor advocate the converse: that there is no possibility of supernatural influence in bringing about the universe as we know it (Murphy 2001).PURPOSE STATEMENT The purpose of this study is to: -assess evolution subject matter knowledge of teachers and students -profile the nature and extent of pro- and anti-evolution views among students and teachers -investigate the relationship between religious beliefs and attitudes to evolution and creation -examine possible links between teacher attitudes and knowledge and student attitudes and knowledge -analyze geographic and...

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