The number of students who had a perception of conflict or compatibility between religion and evolution pre- to post-evolution module. “Unclear” means the student's answer could not be unambiguously characterized as whether they perceived religion and evolution to be in conflict or compatible.
Table 1.Content of survey questions. All research was reviewed and approved by Arizona State University's Institutional Review Board, protocol #00001453.
Student Views on the Relationship between Religion and Evolution*
In a few sentences, briefly describe your views on the relationship between religion and evolutionary theory.
Student Discomfort with Discussions about Religion and Evolution**
Looking back at the evolution module, did anything in the lectures, videos, discussion boards, readings, or discussions with visitors about religion make you uncomfortable? If yes, please explain.
Student Demonstrated Appreciation of Discussions about Religion and Evolution**
Looking back at the evolution module—including visitors, lectures, discussion boards, and readings—was there anything that was presented about religion and evolution that you appreciated? If yes, please explain.
Table 2.Course learning objectives for a two-week module on evolution.
Students can describe and distinguish creationism, spontaneous generation, and evolution.
Students can evaluate and summarize evidence including the fossil record, homologous traits, vestigial traits, biogeography, and experimental data to assess the validity of the three hypotheses stated in the learning objective above.
Students can describe the theory of uniformitarianism and understand its contribution to the development of the theory of evolution.
Students can explain how evolution and diversification can account for the hierarchy of shared characteristics (including homologous traits, vestigial traits).
Students can describe Darwin's concept of how heritable variation and limits on reproductive success result in differential reproduction (natural selection) and thus evolution.
Students can propose explanations for the rise of adaptations that are consistent with evolution by natural selection.
Students can articulate the differences between Lamarck's theory of evolution by inheritance of acquired characteristics and Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.
Students can describe Darwin's idea of how processes of natural selection and isolation can lead to speciation.
Students can define and differentiate between allopatric and sympatric speciation.
Students can propose and analyze scenarios by which speciation might occur.
Students can describe the biological species concept.
Process of Science
Students can distinguish between a theory and a fact in the context of evolution.
Students can delineate how creationism violates the assumptions of science, and identify and articulate the misconceptions and logical flaws of arguments from intelligent design.
Context of Science
Students can describe key elements of the historical context within which Darwin's ideas emerged and the events in his life leading to his theory.
Students can distinguish between societal controversy about evolution and the scientific status of evolution within biology.
Students can recognize the relevance of constitutional limits regarding public school instruction about creationism.
Table 3.Summary of changes in students’ perceptions of the relationship between evolution and religion over a two-week evolution module. Percentages of individuals in each category are presented. Not all categories will add up to 100% due to rounding.