ERIC Number: EJ1161371
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Nov
Abstractor: As Provided
What Determines Student Acceptance of Politically Controversial Scientific Conclusions?
Walker, J. D.; Wassenberg, Deena; Franta, Gabriel; Cotner, Sehoya
Journal of College Science Teaching, v47 n2 p46-56 Nov 2017
Certain scientific conclusions are controversial, in that they are rejected by a substantial proportion of nonscientists despite an overwhelming scientific consensus. Science educators are motivated to help students understand the evidence behind the scientific consensus on these matters and to move students' views into alignment with those held by the vast majority of scientists, but their efforts are not always successful. In this article we use large-scale survey data to explore the nature, extent, and determinants of student resistance to scientific conclusions about evolution, anthropogenic climate change, and the importance of vaccination. We conclude that much student resistance has its source in identity-protective cognition, whereby science denial helps safeguard an individual's identity within a specific social group. Our findings indicate that for these students, supplying information is not enough to foster acceptance of scientific conclusions, and they suggest the need for interventions that address the connection between student identity and the acceptance of certain scientific conclusions.
Descriptors: Student Attitudes, Resistance (Psychology), Controversial Issues (Course Content), Scientific Attitudes, Evolution, Climate, Immunization Programs, Student Surveys, Adoption (Ideas), Evidence, Self Concept, Identification (Psychology), Group Unity, Political Affiliation, Hypothesis Testing, College Students, Introductory Courses, College Science, Biology, Rating Scales, Predictor Variables, Least Squares Statistics, Regression (Statistics), Political Attitudes, Statistical Analysis
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Minnesota
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A