Advertisement

Science & Education

, Volume 20, Issue 5–6, pp 473–489 | Cite as

Creatures in the Classroom: Preservice Teacher Beliefs About Fantastic Beasts, Magic, Extraterrestrials, Evolution and Creationism

  • Susan Carol Losh
  • Brandon Nzekwe
Article

Abstract

Faculty have long expressed concern about pseudoscience belief among students. Most US research on such beliefs examines evolution-creation issues among liberal arts students, the general public, and occasionally science educators. Because of their future influence on youth, we examined basic science knowledge and several pseudoscience beliefs among 540 female and 123 male upperclass preservice teachers, comparing them with representative samples of comparably educated American adults. Future teachers resembled national adults on basic science knowledge. Their scores on evolution; creationism; intelligent design; fantastic beasts; magic; and extraterrestrials indices depended on the topic. Exempting science education, preservice teachers rejected evolution, accepting Biblical creation and intelligent design accounts. Sizable minorities “awaited more evidence” about fantastic beasts, magic, or extraterrestrials. Although gender, disciplinary major, grade point average, science knowledge, and two religiosity measures related to beliefs about evolution-creation, these factors were generally unassociated with the other indices. The findings suggest more training is needed for preservice educators in the critical evaluation of material evidence. We also discuss the judicious use of pseudoscience beliefs in such training.

Keywords

Preservice Teacher Grade Point Average Intelligent Design Future Teacher Education Major 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was funded in part through an American Educational Research Association grant REC-0310268, National Science Foundation grant 0532943 and the National Science Foundation Division of Materials Research through DMR-0654118. Thanks also to Raymond Eve, Ken Feder, Ryan Wilke, Alice Robbin, Martin Bauer, Bob Bell, Jaqui Falkenheim, Nick Allum, and several reviewers for insight, greater clarity and assistance.

References

  1. Allum, N., Sturgis, P., Tabourazi, D., & Brunton-Smith, I. (2008). Science knowledge and attitudes across cultures: A meta-analysis. Public Understanding of Science, 17(1), 35–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. American Association for the Advancement of Science (2009). Benchmarks for science literacy: A tool for curriculum reform (2nd ed.). http://www.project2061.org/publications/bsl/online/index.php?home=true Accessed 19 December 2009.
  3. Berkman, M. B., Pacheco, J. S., & Plutzer, E. (2008). Evolution and creationism in America’s classrooms: A national portrait. PLoS Biology, 6(5), e124. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060124. Accessed 26 February 2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Binder, A. (2007). Gathering intelligence on intelligent design: Where did it come from, where is it going, and how should progressives manage it? American Journal of Education, 113, 549–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chancey, M. A. (2007). Reading, writing & religion: Teaching the Bible in Texas public schools. Texas Freedom Network Education Fund 1–76.Google Scholar
  6. Clément, P., & Quessada, M. P. (2008). Les convictions créationnistes et/ou évolutionnistes d’enseignants de biologie: Une étude comparative dans dix-neuf pays. [Beliefs of creationist and/or evolutionist biology teachers: A comparative study in 19 countries.]. Natures Sciences Sociétés, 16, 154–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clément, P., & Quessada, M. P. (2009). Creationist beliefs in Europe. Science, 324, 1644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davis, J. A., & Smith, T. W. (2009). General Social Surveys, 1972–2008. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center and Storrs, CT: The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut (distributor).Google Scholar
  9. Eve, R. A., & Dunn, D. (1990). Psychic powers, astrology and creationism in the classroom? Evidence of pseudoscientific beliefs among high school biology and life science teachers. The American Biology Teacher, 52(1), 10–21.Google Scholar
  10. Feder, K. L. (1984). Irrationality and popular archaeology. American Antiquity, 49(3), 525–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social cognition (2nd ed.). Guilford, CT: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  12. Good, R. (2005). Scientific and religious habits of mind: Irreconcilable tensions in the curriculum. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.Google Scholar
  13. Goode, E. (2002). Education, scientific knowledge, and belief in the paranormal. Skeptical Inquirer, 26(1), 24–27.Google Scholar
  14. Harrold, F., & Eve, R. A. (Eds.). (1987). Cult archaeology and creationism. Iowa: University of Iowa Press.Google Scholar
  15. Holden, C. (1987). Textbook controversy intensifies nationwide. Science, 235(4784), 19–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jones, J. E. (2007). Our Constitution’s intelligent design. Litigation, 33(3), 3–6. 57.Google Scholar
  17. Kahneman, D., Slovic, P., & Tversky, A. (Eds.). (1982). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Losh, S. C. (2003). On the application of social cognition and social location to creating causal explanatory structures. Educational Research Quarterly, 26(3), 17–33.Google Scholar
  19. Losh, S. C., Tavani, C. M., Njoroge, R., Wilke, R., & McAuley, M. (2003). What does education really do? Educational dimensions and pseudoscience support in the American general public, 1979–2001. The Skeptical Inquirer, 27(5), 30–35.Google Scholar
  20. Martin, M. (1994). Pseudoscience, the paranormal, and science education. Science & Education, 3, 357–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mellor, F. (2003). Between fact and fiction: Demarcating science from non-science in popular physics books. Social Studies of Science, 33(4), 509–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Miller, J. D. (2010). The sources and impact of civic scientific literacy. In M. W. Bauer, R. Shukla, & N. Allum (Eds.), The culture of science: How does the public relate to science across the globe?. NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Miller, J. D., & Kimmel, L. (1998). Science and technology: Public attitudes and public understanding. Chapter 7 (1–22) in National Science Board, Science & engineering indicators—1998. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation (NSB98–1).Google Scholar
  24. National Science Board. (2008). Science & engineering indicators 2008. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation (NSB-08–01).Google Scholar
  25. Nelson, C. (2000). Effective strategies for teaching evolution and other controversial topics. In J. Skehan & C. Nelson (Eds.), The creation controversy and the science classroom. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association.Google Scholar
  26. Pennock, R. (2002). Should creationism be taught in the public schools? Science & Education, 11, 111–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. (Pew 2009). Many Americans mix multiple faiths: Eastern, New Age beliefs widespread. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=490#1 Accessed 21 April 2010.
  28. Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Pew (2009). A survey conducted in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. http://people-press.org/report/528/ Accessed 10 July 2009.
  29. Plutzer, E., & Berkman, M. (2008). The polls—trends: Evolution, creationism and the teaching of human origins in schools. Public Opinion Quarterly, 72(3), 540–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pratkanis, A. R. (1992). The Cargo-Cult science of subliminal persuasion. Skeptical Inquirer, 16(3). http://www.csicop.org/si/9204/subliminal-persuasion.html. Accessed 28 June 2009.
  31. Pratkanis, A. R. (1995). How to sell a pseudoscience. Skeptical Inquirer, 19, 19–25.Google Scholar
  32. Rosenberg, M. (1968). The logic of survey analysis. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  33. Schneider, B., Carnoy, M., Kilpatrick, J., Schmidt, W. H., & Shavelson, R. J. (2007). Estimating causal effects using experimental and observational designs: A think tank white paper. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.Google Scholar
  34. Skoog, G. (1984). The coverage of evolution in high school biology textbooks published in the 1980s. Science Education, 68, 117–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Specter, M. (2009). Denialism. New York: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  36. Stanovich, K. E. (2001). The vividness problem. In M. Davis (Ed.), Annual editions: Social psychology (pp. 34–37). Guilford, CT: McGraw-Hill/Duskin.Google Scholar
  37. Stempien, R., & Coleman, S. (1985). Processes of persuasion: The case of creation science. Review of religious research, 27(2), 169–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Taylor, J., Eve, R. A., & Harrold, F. B. (1995). Why creationists don’t go to psychic fairs. Skeptical Inquirer, 19(6), 23–28.Google Scholar
  39. Trefil, J. (2008). Why science?. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  40. Verhey, S. (2005). The effect of engaging prior learning on student attitudes toward creationism and evolution. BioScience, 55, 996–1003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wicker, C. (2003). Lily Dale: The true story of the town that talks to the dead. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.Google Scholar
  42. Wicker, C. (2005). Not in Kansas any more: A curious tale of how magic is transforming America. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.Google Scholar
  43. Willingham, D. T. (2007). Critical thinking: Why is it so hard to teach? American Educator, 31(2), 8–19.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Psychology and Learning SystemsFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Personalised recommendations