Many Teachers Undercut Science Education, New Survey Indicates

Church & State, March 2011 | Go to article overview

Many Teachers Undercut Science Education, New Survey Indicates


A new report by two scholars at Penn State University found that about 28 percent of high school biology teachers said they consistently teach evolution and that nearly 13 percent say they favor teaching creationism or "intelligent design."

Most science teachers, about 60 percent, said they avoid taking a direct stance on the topic of evolution. The authors of the report, Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer, called these teachers the "cautious 60 percent."

"These teachers fail to explain the nature of scientific inquiry, undermine the authority of established experts, and legitimize creationist arguments, even if unintentionally," wrote Berkman and Plutzer.

The two surveyed 926 high school biology teachers and asked them how much time they spent on certain subjects. They also asked the teachers to give information about their personal beliefs concerning creationism and evolution. Their findings were reported in the journal Science.

Several respondents indicated that they fear teaching evolution too robustly and are worried about a backlash from the community.

University professors who examined the data said many high school science teachers lack a solid grounding in evolution. …

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