Research in Science Education

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 1187–1204 | Cite as

A Role for Epistemic Insight in Attitude and Belief Change? Lessons from a Cross-curricular Course on Evolution and Creation

  • Christiane KonnemannEmail author
  • Christian Höger
  • Roman Asshoff
  • Marcus Hammann
  • Werner Rieß


This paper presents findings from a quasi-experimental study evaluating future teachers’ attitudes and beliefs in response to a cross-curricular university course on evolution and creation bridging biological and Christian theological perspectives. Based on previous findings, we hypothesized that a course providing learning opportunities for epistemic insight within this multidisciplinary arena might have effects on attitudes and beliefs relevant to the field. Hence, the main research question was the following: To what extent do student teachers’ attitudes and beliefs change by attending a cross-curricular course on evolution and creation intended to develop student teachers’ epistemic insight into the nature of science and into the relationship between science and theology? The answer from this quasi-experimental evaluation study (pre–post-design; test group n = 26, control group n = 24) is as follows: It depends upon the variable investigated! Pre–post-analysis using a repeated measures ANOVA revealed that the cross-curricular course integrating epistemic insight induced changes in creationist beliefs, in students’ perception of conflict, and in acceptance of evolution. In contrast, there was no effect on attitudes toward evolutionary theory, on attitudes toward the Biblical accounts of creation, or on scientistic beliefs. However, when student responses were analyzed individually, case-based evidence for belief change in students with scientistic positions emerged. Among the reasons for those different effects, we discuss conceptual differences between attitude and acceptance, features of the student teacher sample, and the particular content of the course explicitly addressing creationism but not scientism. In conclusion, the paper corroborates the role of epistemic insight in the multidisciplinary field of evolution and creation and provides initial evidence that epistemic insight possesses a particular potential concerning positions at both ends of the spectrum.


Attitudes toward evolutionary theory Attitudes toward the Biblical accounts of creation Creationism Scientism Science and religion issues Cross-curricular approach 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Biology EducationUniversity of MuensterMuensterGermany
  2. 2.Institute for TheologiesUniversity of Education FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Biology and Biology EducationUniversity of Education FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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