ERIC Number: ED460017
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001-Nov
The Impact of Religious Belief on Learning in the Science Classroom.
Findley, Ann M.; Lindsey, Sara J.; Watts, Susie
Research shows that one of the most important prerequisites for student success is for teachers to understand and respect individuals from different cultures, and to understand the communities from which they come (Ilmer, Synder, Erbaugh & Kurtz, 1997). Thus, if we want students to succeed, what they bring into the science classroom in terms of belief simply cannot be ignored; fundamental beliefs have considerable impact on learning (Cooper, 1996). Two of the aims of the Rural Systemic Initiatives Program (RSI), which is working in 21 of Louisiana's rural, economically disadvantaged parishes, are to address barriers to systemic and sustainable improvements in science and to adapt high quality, challenging curricula to address cultural diversity. With these aims in mind, a study was undertaken of 155 college freshman biology students in order to ascertain their preconceived beliefs about the subject of evolution. At the end of their course, students were given a survey in which they were asked to respond to questions pertaining to their own high school biology education, and to their beliefs concerning science, religion, and evolution. The survey consisted of 11 items requiring a response based on a 5-point Likert scale. Four additional items required a yes/no response. Demographic data were obtained, and results compared in order to obtain a description of the sample. The results showed that there are differences between the two groups, however none were statistically significant, Although the students as a whole appeared to be more accepting of evolution than of creationism, a large percentage considered creationism, belief, and supernatural explanations as being a part of science. These findings suggest that science instruction in the rural parishes may be less effective due to cultural beliefs and to understandings regarding scientific study that students bring into the classroom. (Contains 16 references and 2 tables.) (Author/DDR)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Mid-South Educational Research Association (30th, Little Rock, AR, November 14-16, 2001).