Shifting Acceptance of Evolution: Promising Evidence of the Influence of the Understanding Evolution Website

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This study examined preservice teachers’understanding and acceptance of biological evolution, the nature of science, and situations of chance. Our goal was to examine whether increases in understanding of situations of chance (randomness), the nature of science, and acceptance of evolution, would result in greater understanding of biological evolution in prospective teachers. The participating preservice teachers were tested before and after interacting with the Understanding Evolution website and a similarly designed tutorial to assess their acceptance and understanding of these three domains. Web based tutorials designed to address common misconceptions of the three domains were administered to the experimental group. The control group received evolution and nature of science misconception instruction, and to equate time on task, a filler tutorial which replaced the situations of chance instruction. Pretest analysis revealed evolution understanding was significantly correlated with knowledge of the nature of science and situations of uncertainly. Post test analysis indicated that the tutorials induced a modest but detectable shift in acceptance of evolution, but had no effect on understanding of situations of chance or knowledge of evolution. This suggests that it may be able to achieve modest changes in acceptance of evolution with a relatively modest instructional intervention.