Community College Students' Understanding and Perception of Evolution

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Riley, Rebekkah
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Middle Tennessee State University
Learning about evolution is a foundational part of introductory biology education. In evolution education research, most studies are conducted at four-year universities, leaving community colleges understudied. This study investigates the understanding and acceptance of evolution of community college compared to university students and what factors are related to community college student evolution acceptance. A survey was conducted of 2288 university students and 202 community college students in Arizona and California. The survey included questions about interest in evolution, along with understanding and acceptance of microevolution, macroevolution, and human evolution. Multiple linear regressions were run controlling for state and major to identify potential differences between community college and university students. Community college students had a similar interest, but lower understanding of evolution compared to university students. Community college students also had a lower acceptance of microevolution and human evolution and a higher perceived conflict with evolution and their religion. Unlike among university students, community college student understanding of evolution is not associated with acceptance of human evolution or macroevolution, but we found the strongest factor relating to all three is religiosity. Instructors moving forward could use Religious Cultural Competence in Evolution Education (ReCEE) to help increase student acceptance and understanding of evolution at community colleges.
Community college, Evolution, University, Biology, Education