ERG SES H 01, Psychology and Education
This study investigates effects of “Introduction to Evolution” course on preservice science teachers’ (PST) pseudoscientific beliefs about development of life on Earth. Throughout the history the question of “What is scientific knowledge?” has been asked by philosophers. The answers were varied with respect to definer and the motivation that prompted to ask. Each answer leaded to another question. To illustrate, Vienna Circle members, group of philosophers who gathered around World War 1, state that scientific knowledge is anything that has proof however, they did not show truth as a criterion of scientific knowledge (Newton-Smith, 2002, p. 209). It just must be reliable, the most important characteristics of scientific knowledge. But, from their perspective non-observable things are problem and metaphysics is one of them. One can make several successful predictions about it but can never prove. Since it is not testable, it brings uncertainty. Metaphysics is not reliable in terms of their criteria. So, Vienna circle members state that metaphysics should be out of science. According to them, one need to work with the statements that can have a truth value so that it can be scientific. It should be same for everyone. A while after Vienna Circle, Popper and Kuhn answered the same question “What is scientific knowledge?”. According to Popper (1963) the aim of science related with the truth. On the other hand, Kuhn (1970) sees scientific activity as a human activity, so it is not possible to say false or true to a human activity or even define it. Although they see science in a different way, the important point is that both have criteria to define something as a science. Being able to define science is also important for science educators. Last two decades can be called as “Science for All” era of science teaching (Assaraf and Orion, 2005). In harmony with the idea of importance of educating future citizens – according to Science for All-, current Turkish Science Education Curriculum (2018) highlights that the goal of science education is to educate scientifically literate persons. The scientifically literate person has the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts as well as the processes (National Research Council, 1996). This means that scientifically literate person should be able to distinguish science from false science which is pseudoscience (Hurd, 1998). Unfortunately, although pseudoscience is an important aspect of science education, it is generally ignored by educators (Martin, 1994). When the Science Teacher Education program in Turkey examined, one of the goals of it found as to educate science teachers with an interest in helping their students to understand science in a meaningful way. In order to do that, teacher must be able to distinguish science from pseudoscience. In this study, preservice science teachers’ pseudoscientific beliefs about development of life on Earth -specifically Creation Science and Intelligent Design- will be examined before and after taking the course of “Introduction to Evolution”. Creation is classified as pseudoscience whilst evolution is called as a science according to Shermer (2001) and Intelligent Design is accepted pseudoscience (Mugaloglu, 2014). More specifically, the research questions of the current study are “Is there a significant change in participants’ pseudoscientific beliefs scores following enrolled the “Introduction to Evolution” course?”, “Taking evolution course make any difference on pre-service science teachers’ belief on Creation and Intelligent Design?”, and “To what extent pre-service science teachers accept evolution as a unique theory?”.
In the current study “The One-Group Pretest-Posttest” research design will be used. It is the type of quantative method. In this design, a single group is measured before and after the treatment or intervention. The data collection will be based on quantative research tool which is Likert-type Questionnaires. In this study, PSTs in Turkey who will be enrolled in “Introduction to Evolution” course are the target population of this study. But, since examining all PST is very hard, 4th grade PSTs from a technical research university which is one of the most successful English medium university in Turkey is selected as a sample which represents the population. In Turkey, all 4th grade PSTs take “Introduction to Evolution” course as a must course at their last term of education. There are approximately 50 4th grade PSTs enrolled the program in 2018-2019 education year in selected university. The announcement of the current study will be done at the very first “Introduction to Evolution” course for the preservice science teachers and ones that are volunteers will be selected for the study. At the first lecture pre-test will be applied and at the last lecture post-test will be applied to students who attend almost all lectures. Data will be collected before they take this course and after. Collected data will be analysis through SPSS program. A paired-samples t-test is used when there is only one group and when data is collected from them on two different occasions or under two different conditions (Pallant, 2010). Pre-test / post-test are suitable for pair-sample t-test since data from each person is collected at Time 1 and then again Time 2, after exposing them intervention. In this study, PST’s pseudoscientific beliefs will be examined before (Time 1) and after (Time 2) taking “Introduction to Evolution” course which is intervention. A paired-sample t-test will tell whether there is a statistically significant difference in the mean scores for Time 1 and Time 2. Test will be conducted after checking assumptions which are independence of observation, levels of measurement, random sampling and normality.
When studies done in Turkey is examined it is understood that teachers tend to accept Creation and Intelligent Design as a science which are alternative to evolution. According to Mugaloglu (2014), 19 prospective science teachers out of 48 thinks that they need to teach both Intelligent Design and evolution in their class while 21 of them state that Intelligent Design is a legitimate topic in science class. Moreover, according to survey in 2006, only Turkish adults were less likely to accept the concept of evolution than American adults among 34 countries (Miller, Scott, & Okamoto, 2006). Martin concluded that creation scientists generally reject evolution not due to scientific reasons but because of religious reasons. Many followers believe that there are scientific reasons to reject evolution, but they cannot define them. In the light of this, at the end of the current study, PST’s pseudoscientific beliefs are expected to change. Since “Introduction to Evolution” course includes scientific issues, students will be understand the development of life. Mugaloglu states that people tend to select easiest way to solve their problems (2014). When they understand the evolution, their beliefs may change. That means post-test may indicated that PST’s belief on Creation and ID decrease whilst belief on evolution increase. Importantly, since being scientifically literate person requires ability to define science and differs science from pseudoscience, it is worth to study pseudoscientific beliefs of preservice science teachers who educate our future students. Thanks to this study, whether there is an effect of “Introduction to Evolution” course which make PSTs study on evolution for a term, on their beliefs on Creation Science and Intelligent Design will be understood. Additionally, the effect of the course on PSTs perception of considering Creation Science and Intelligent Design concepts as science or pseudoscience will be measured.
Assaraf, O. B. Z., & Orion, N. (2005). Development of system thinking skills in the context of earth system education. Journal of Research in Science Teaching: The Official Journal of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, 42(5), 518-560. Hurd, P. D. (1998). Scientific literacy: New minds for a changing world. Science Education, 82, 407–416 Kuhn, T. (1970). Logic of discovery or psychology of research? In I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave (Eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge (pp. 1-23). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Martin, M. (1994). Pseudoscience, the paranormal, and science education. Science & Education, 3(4), 357-371. Miller, J. D., Scott, E. C., & Okamoto, S. (2006). Public acceptance of evolution. SCIENCE- NEW YORK THEN WASHINGTON-, 313(5788), 765. Ministry of Education (MEB) (2018). Primary science and technology curriculum for grades 3,4,5,6,7,8. [İlköğretim Fen Bilimleri Dersi (3-4-5-6-7-8. sınıflar) öğretim program ve kılavuzu]. Devlet Kitapları Müdürlüğü, Ankara Mugaloglu, E. Z. (2014). The problem of pseudoscience in science education and implications of constructivist pedagogy. Science & Education, 23(4), 829-842. National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Newton-Smith, W. H. (2002). The rationality of science. Routledge. Pallant, J. (2010). SPSS survival manual: A step by step guide to data analysis using SPSS. Maidenhead. Popper, K. (1963). Conjectures and refutations. NY: Basic Books. Shermer, M. (2001). The borderlands of science: Where sense meets nonsense. Oxford University Press.
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