Practices and Perspectives of College Instructors on Addressing Religious Beliefs When Teaching Evolution
M. Elizabeth Barnes and Sara E. Brownell*
Biology Education Research Lab, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501
Jeff Schinske, Monitoring Editor
Submitted November 29, 2015. Revised February 17, 2016. Accepted February 17, 2016.
Evolution is a core concept of biology, and yet many college biology students do not accept evolution because of their religious beliefs. However, we do not currently know how instructors perceive their role in helping students accept evolution or how they address the perceived conflict between religion and evolution when they teach evolution. This study explores instructor practices and beliefs related to mitigating students’ perceived conflict between religion and evolution. Interviews with 32 instructors revealed that many instructors do not believe it is their goal to help students accept evolution and that most instructors do not address the perceived conflict between religion and evolution. Instructors cited many barriers to discussing religion in the context of evolution in their classes, most notably the instructors’ own personal beliefs that religion and evolution may be incompatible. These data are exploratory and are intended to stimulate a series of questions about how we as college biology instructors teach evolution.
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↵*Address correspondence to: Sara E. Brownell (Sara.firstname.lastname@example.org).
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