Date of Award
Curriculum and Instruction
P. Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D.
Antievolutionism, Cognitive dissonance, Educational criticism and connoisseurship, Intellectual safety, Nature of science, Teaching evolution
Even 150 years after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, public school teachers still find themselves dealing with student resistance to learning about biological evolution. Some teachers deal with this pressure by undermining, deemphasizing, or even omitting the topic in their science curriculum. Others face the challenge and deliver solid scientific instruction of evolutionary theory despite the conflicts that may arise. The latter were the topic of this study.
I interviewed five teachers that had experience dealing with resistance to learning evolution in their school community. Through these in-depth interviews, I examined strategies these teachers use when facing resistance and how they help students deal with the cognitive dissonance that may be experienced when learning about evolution. I selected the qualitative method of educational criticism and connoisseurship to organize and categorize my data.
From the interviews, the following findings emerged. Experienced teachers increased their confidence in teaching evolution by pursuing outside professional development. They not only learned more about evolutionary theory, but about creationist arguments against evolution. These teachers front-load their curriculum to integrate the nature of science into their lessons to address misunderstandings about how science works. They also highlight the importance of learning evolutionary theory but ensure students they do not have an agenda to indoctrinate students. Finally these experienced teachers work hard to create an intellectually safe learning environment to build trusting and respectful relationships with their students.
Bramschreiber, Terry L., "Evolving Minds: Helping Students with Cognitive Dissonance" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 82.
Received from ProQuest
Terry L. Bramschreiber
Education, Science education, Teacher education