A More Fine-Grained Measure of Students' Acceptance of Evolution: Development of the Inventory of Student Evolution Acceptance—I-SEA

Document Type


Publication Date





The potential influences of affective perceptions on cognitive engagement in learning, particularly with emotionally charged topics such as evolution, provide justification for acknowledging and assessing learners' attitudes toward content. One approach to determining students' attitudes toward a construct is to explicitly ask them to what degree they accept the related content. This was the approach we took as we developed the Inventory of Student Evolution Acceptance. Our goal was to make a finer-grained instrument that would assess acceptance on three evolution subscales: microevolution, macroevolution, and human evolution. Further, we sought to not conflate understanding with acceptance of the constructs. We began our instrument development with a series of interviews and open-ended questionnaires to determine students' perceptions of evolution acceptance. Based on the responses we developed and field tested a 49-item Likert scale instrument with stems distributed across our three targeted subscales. Using the data from our field test, we reduced the instrument to 24 items evenly distributed across the three subscales, and the revised instrument was again field tested with high school and undergraduate college students. The final instrument has an internal reliability of Cronbach's alpha of 0.96 and the items loaded onto three components that reflect documented evolution acceptance conditions. The instrument development, implications, and applications are discussed.