Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Evolution (Biology)--Public opinion; College freshmen--Middle West--Attitudes;


In the current study, I investigated whether changes occurred in the acceptance of evolution for students majoring in elementary education during their first semester of college and if so, what factors influenced the change. Thirty participants in their first semester of college completed pre-and post-tests that included the Inventory of Student Evolution Acceptance to measure changes in student acceptance of evolution over the course of one academic semester. Ten of those participants completed interviews to elaborate on those factors that may have affected their acceptance in evolution. Mixed methods analysis utilizing a cognitive constructivist framework revealed that religious beliefs, explicit evolution instruction in the classroom and discussions with friends were three factors that influenced student acceptance of evolution. Decreased acceptance was often associated with an increase in religiousness in the absence of classroom exposure. Conversely, increased acceptance was often associated with decreased religiousness within the context of discussions with friends and classroom exposure. Although acceptance of evolution changed, most participants had actively assimilated information regarding evolution rather than restructuring their knowledge through accommodation. Implications of the study indicate that in order for conceptual change to take place regarding evolutionary theory, teachers need to be aware of their students’ prior beliefs and the factors that may influence their students both inside and outside of the classroom.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Science Education Program

First Advisor

John Ophus, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (v, 77 pages)



File Format


Included in

Evolution Commons