Creatures in the Classroom: Preservice Teacher Beliefs About Fantastic Beasts, Magic, Extraterrestrials, Evolution and Creationism
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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.
KeywordsPreservice Teacher Grade Point Average Intelligent Design Future Teacher Education Major
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.
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