The effect of teaching the nature of science on students’ acceptance and understanding of evolution: myth or reality?

HERNAN LUIS COFRE MARDONES, David P. Santibáñez, Juan P. Jiménez, Angel Spotorno, Francisca Carmona, Kasandra Navarrete, Claudia A. Vergara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

The results of studies of the nature of science (NOS) as a factor that enhances students’ understanding of evolution have been inconclusive. Therefore, the main purpose of this study was to test the role of NOS instruction in enhancing students’ learning about evolution. We used a quasi-experimental design with pre- and post-tests to investigate the impact of teaching evolution with and without NOS in two classes with 15–16-year-old students, who were randomly assigned to these two classes. To measure their understanding of NOS and their acceptance and understanding of evolution, we used three different instruments that have been shown to generate reliable and valid inferences in comparable populations. The main results of this study were that, in the class in which the teaching of evolution included NOS instruction, the students’ understanding of NOS and their acceptance of evolution significantly improved. However, irrespective of the use of NOS instruction, both classes increased their understanding of evolution. These results support the claim that NOS instruction may influence students’ acceptance of evolution but not their understanding of evolution and natural selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-261
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Education
Volume52
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • acceptance of evolution
  • natural selection
  • Nature of science
  • understanding of evolution

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