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First-Year College Students’ Conflict with Religion and Science

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First-Year College Students’ Conflict with Religion and Science LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA (E-mail: [email protected]) Abstract. This study took place during a First Year Seminar course where 20 incoming college freshmen studied the central topic of the nature of science within the context of biological evolution. The instructor researched students’ understandings in the nature of science as they progressed through the course by examining a variety of qualitative and quantitative data including class writings, pre- and post-test selected items from the VOSTS (Views on Science- Technology-Society), and interviews. The intended outcomes of the course were to reduce the number of student misconceptions in the nature of science and to ease student apprehension when learning about evolution. Data were analyzed to determine whether students were moving toward a more generally accepted idea of the nature of science or toward another type of misconception. Key words: creationism, evolution, first-year seminar, freshmen, FYS, nature of science, religion 1. Importance of this Study Research literature in the nature of science continues to point out the lack of nature of science understandings of students, many teachers, and the general public (Abd-El-Khalick et al. 1998; Bianchini & Colburn 2000; Eick 2000; Schwartz et al. 2000). One may decry this current state and worry about scientific literacy as a whole. But why worry about the gen- eral public’s understanding of the nature of science? When written explanations of the scientifically rejected ‘intelligent de- sign’ or ‘creation science’ appear, the supporters of these notions point to the way science is practiced. They talk about ‘the scientific method’ and ‘logic’ making claims that their ideas of a supernatural being creating life are in concert with nature of science. These claims dispute commonly agreed upon aspects of nature of science. The researcher argues that by better understanding the nature of science, more of our students will have the chance to dispel common misconceptions and they will feel less like sci- ence is attempting to replace God in answering questions of ethics, moral- ity, and spirituality. Sci & Educ (2008) 17:317À357 Ó Springer 2006 DOI 10.1007/s11191-006-9039-5
Transcript

First-Year College Students’ Conflict

with Religion and Science

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSENGeorgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA(E-mail: [email protected])

Abstract. This study took place during a First Year Seminar course where 20 incoming collegefreshmen studied the central topic of the nature of science within the context of biologicalevolution. The instructor researched students’ understandings in the nature of science as theyprogressed through the course by examining a variety of qualitative and quantitative data

including class writings, pre- and post-test selected items from the VOSTS (Views on Science-Technology-Society), and interviews. The intended outcomes of the course were to reduce thenumber of student misconceptions in the nature of science and to ease student apprehension

when learning about evolution. Data were analyzed to determine whether students weremoving toward a more generally accepted idea of the nature of science or toward another typeof misconception.

Key words: creationism, evolution, first-year seminar, freshmen, FYS, nature of science,religion

1. Importance of this Study

Research literature in the nature of science continues to point out the lackof nature of science understandings of students, many teachers, and thegeneral public (Abd-El-Khalick et al. 1998; Bianchini & Colburn 2000;Eick 2000; Schwartz et al. 2000). One may decry this current state andworry about scientific literacy as a whole. But why worry about the gen-eral public’s understanding of the nature of science?When written explanations of the scientifically rejected ‘intelligent de-

sign’ or ‘creation science’ appear, the supporters of these notions point tothe way science is practiced. They talk about ‘the scientific method’ and‘logic’ making claims that their ideas of a supernatural being creating lifeare in concert with nature of science. These claims dispute commonlyagreed upon aspects of nature of science. The researcher argues that bybetter understanding the nature of science, more of our students will havethe chance to dispel common misconceptions and they will feel less like sci-ence is attempting to replace God in answering questions of ethics, moral-ity, and spirituality.

Sci & Educ (2008) 17:317�357 � Springer 2006DOI 10.1007/s11191-006-9039-5

When we consider the way we teach science or how the general populousthinks science is conducted, not only are there very naı̈ve views of natureof science concepts, but also different worldviews are coming into conflict.Science teachers are asked to help students understand the way scienceworks, but some teachers as well as many of our students hold rigid theis-tic worldviews that threaten their understanding of science concepts. Inthis study nature of science concepts were taught explicitly within a courseon the history and theory of evolution listed in Section 4.1. Student con-ceptual understandings of nature of science and evolution were examinedas well as an investigation into their worldviews concerning religion andscience.While one may argue that segments of our population possessing very

literal interpretation of religious texts will never become comfortable withthe idea of accepting evolution as a scientific explanation when it flies inthe face of six-day creation, there is a large segment of our populationwho has made a personal interpretation of science and religion being inconflict without a literal, rigid theistic worldview. By involving students inexplicit nature of science activities which illustrate the boundaries of sci-ence, they can begin to see that an acceptance of a scientific theory doesnot eliminate the existence of a supernatural entity.

2. Impact of Worldviews in the Science Classroom

Misconceptions arise not only because the student does not completelyunderstand the scientific concept, it may be because the student possesses aworldview in conflict with a scientific worldview (Coburn 1991; Pinchtrichet al. 1993; Schneider & Pressley 1989). An example would be when a stu-dent says that they believe the earth is 6000 years old. This is usually dueto a conflict between a theistic worldview and a naturalistic worldview.When in conflict, there are several different outcomes. In Figure 1, whichfirst appeared in William W. Cobern’s NARST Monograph (1991), ananalysis of a misconception is charted. With an alternate worldview, a stu-dent may be actively resistant to learning the scientific content, the studentmay understand the concept but does not care to accept it, or a proper sci-ence understanding may be achieved, but the connection of new learningwith the student’s worldview was not made. Since worldview can influencemotivational and contextual factors as noted by Garner (1990), these as-pects should be considered and addressed when teaching science conceptsthat may conflict with different worldviews.In the article ‘Teaching Evolutionary Biology: Pressures, Stress, and

Coping,’ (Griffith & Brem 2004) identified many different stressors facingteachers when teaching evolution. Some teachers dealt with outside factors

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influencing the choices they made when teaching evolution. These includedpressure from creationists to change the curriculum eliminating evolution,the community and administration asking teachers to stay away from‘‘controversial’’ science concepts in order to avoid potential problems,other teachers in a biology department opting out from teaching evolution.In addition to outside pressure, science teachers are dealing with their ownclashing worldviews (Brem et al. 2003).Ron Anderson (2005) suggested that teachers need to become informed

of worldviews and the implications that arise when different worldviewsare present in our science classrooms. By avoiding the epistemological is-sues, we further complicate the matter of one worldview excluding anotherin a person’s mind. Our theistically minded students have become afraid,nervous, and defensive in our classrooms.

3. Nature of Science Instruction

For the general populous to become aware the nature of science, or a sci-entific worldview, we must work with our gradeschool children as well asour secondary and post-secondary students who will become our policy-makers and teachers.Over half of the United States public rejects the theory of evolution

according to a Gallup poll from 1999 and a National Science Board poll

First Order Presuppositions Occurring in the Course

Naturalistic Theistic

Explains in natural terms

Evolution

Uniformitarianism

Dinosaurs existed

6 daycreation Flood geologyDivine intervention

Figure 1. From Worldview Theory and Science Education Research: fundamental episte-mological structure as a critical factor in science learning and attitude development(Coburn 1991).

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 319

from 2000 (Editors 2002). In addition to continual debates regarding evolu-tion, origins of the earth and universe are challenged as well as the theoryof an old earth versus a young earth of approximately 7000 years. Thesecontroversies are embedded in general misunderstandings of the nature ofscience and affect the study of many science subjects including physics,chemistry, earth science, as well as the obvious � biology. Ultimately, ef-fects reach out to public decisions regarding science and science instruction.Historically, the nature of science (hereafter referred to as NOS) has not

been a main emphasis of science classrooms (Dodick & Orion 2003).Shortly after the appearance of Sputnik in Earth’s orbit, science instructionin the United States emphasized ‘the logical structure of the sciences’ ra-ther than an examination of societal and personal implications (Bybee &DeBoer 1994). More recently, the AAAS Project 2061 document Bench-marks in Science Literacy (1993) and the National Science Education Stan-dards (National Research Council 1996) have outlined several areas in thenature of science that are important for our students, as future citizens, toknow and understand (Dodick & Orion 2003; Lederman 1998). It is ex-pected that in order to make informed decisions about local, national, andglobal issues, that our society should have a better understanding of whatscience is and how science works (Shaw 2002).John Staver (1999) wrote ‘When Public Understanding of Science

Thwarts Standards-Based Science Education’ to shed light on the affects ofa general populous that does not have a complex understanding of theNOS. He says that ‘low levels of public understanding of science in generaland evolution theory in particular can influence the science taught in K-12schools’. He is referring to the debacle that took place in the Kansas StateBoard of Education when considering whether or not the theory of evolu-tion should be included in the rewrite of the Kansas state science standards.Staver explained that the board entertained alternative versions of the NOSas provided by the Creation Science Association for Mid-America (http://www.csama.org) that were quite different from the views of the NationalScience Education Standards (National Research Council 1996). This alter-native draft of the standards listed, some of them reprinted below, a con-trary interpretation of the nature of science compared to the NSES,

Nature of Science Items Included in a Proposed Draft of Kansas State Standards by the

Kansas State Board of Education (Staver 1999)1. Good science is science that is verifiable, falsifiable, and repeatable.2. Historic science, which includes the study of past events such as the origin of life

and the universe, is not good science because these ideas are not testable, as the pastis not verifiable, falsifiable, or repeatable.3. Scientific law is considered to be more important than scientific theory.

4. Inductive reasoning is emphasized over and above deductive reasoning, which isdownplayed.

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Note that the proposed Kansas standards emphasize ‘repeatable.’ Manycritics of evolution or old earth ideas will say that science cannot pro-pose that dinosaurs lived before humans because we cannot replicatethose events today for verification as reflected in standards #1 and #2.The alternative standards attempted to add a value to the importance ofa law versus a theory i.e. evolution is only a theory and is not as validas a scientific law.Randy Moore (2002) and John Staver (1999) explained that the inclu-

sion of evolution in the state standards does matter. It matters to teacherswho will teach only what is contained in the state curriculum guidelines. Ifevolution is not included in the state standards, teachers will simply leavethat portion out since there are usually school board members, some localchurch officials and members, peers, and parents of students who feel evo-lution infringes upon their religious beliefs. The pressure not to teach evo-lution is great. If there is a reason to leave it out, teachers often will inspite of the fact that evolution is a cornerstone concept in biology. Theend result is a continuation and perhaps a decline in the public’s overallscientific literacyAveraging a letter grade report of states’ inclusion of evolution in the state

standards compiled by Lerner (2000), the United States received a ‘C’ grade(satisfactory). Thirteen states received an ‘F’ because their standards were‘useless of purposes of teaching evolution’. Moore (2002) pointed to theLouisiana Committee for Science Standards that grouped evolution with thesubjects of drug use, witchcraft, the occult, and incest as being banned fromstate exit exams for high school students. Clearly, the general populous con-sidered evolution to be an evil and dangerous subject. In the spring of 2005,conflict continued in Cobb County, Georgia where court cases dealt withstickers placed in biology textbooks in 2002 stating that ‘This textbook con-tains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding theorigin of living things. This material should be approached with an openmind, studied carefully and critically considered.’ The current Cobb Countyschool board is presently appealing a decision by a judge saying that thestickers must be removed due to an unconstitutional endorsement of religion(Torres 2005). The examples provided are but a few of the many areas wherepopular opinion pressures science teachers in the United States. In the Uni-ted States, ‘over a quarter, and perhaps as many as half, of the nation’s highschool students receive education that is shaped by creationist influence,despite the overwhelming opposition of the nation’s scientific, educational,intellectual, and media establishments’ (Eve & Harrold 1991). This leads ourstudents to reject evolution in favor of creationism (Gallup & Newport1991; Greenwood & North 1999; Finn & Kanstoroom 2000; Sonderstrom2000; Moore 2002). Ultimately, those students go on to earn degrees in

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 321

biology, earth science, physics, and science teaching while questioning oroutright rejecting evolution (Moore 2002).Research shows that most teachers of science possess several misconcep-

tions about what science is and how science works (Eick 2000). Even whenteachers had informed views of the NOS, they did not always explicitlyteach these ideas to their students in the science classroom. It is usually ex-pected that students will somehow challenge their misconceptions aboutscience by learning in the science classroom even though research hasshown that this is not true. Akerson & Abd-El-Khalick (2003), Clough(1998), Lederman & Abd-El-Khalick (1998), have found that explicitteaching about the NOS is needed for students to challenge their currentmind sets. In order for our future citizens to have a more complex under-standing of the nature of science, we must not only teach students pro-cesses of science and scientific inquiry; but also directly confrontmisconceptions in the NOS (Abd-El-Khalick et al. 1998; Bianchini & Col-burn 2000; Eick 2000; Schwartz et al. 2000). By using strategies to fosterconceptual change (Hewson & Hewson 1984; Strike & Posner 1992), wemay assist students in their reevaluation of their understandings and tocreate new meaning regarding the NOS. Other studies point to the correla-tion between a better understanding of the nature of science and evolutionwith more time being spent teaching evolution and the nature of science inthe science classroom (Aguillard 1999; Rutledge & Mitchell 2002).One of the problems with people’s understandings of evolution is that

people confuse the science of evolution with belief systems and faith sys-tems. They perceive that it is one world view where a person must make achoice to accept one and reject the other (Benyo 2002). The nature of sci-ence can help students to have a better understanding of ‘What is science?What are the processes of science � not just evolution?’ Those who sub-scribe to the Intelligent Design theory clearly do not understand science.As Julie Benyo (2002), education director for the WGBH-TV’s Evolution(2001) series, said, ‘You would ask them, ‘How would you go about test-ing the hypothesis of an intelligent designer?’ Well, you cannot, and there-fore it’s not science’.The editors of Scientific American (2002) published ‘Bad Science and

False Facts’ stating

‘Ideas deserve a fair hearing but fairness shouldn’t be an excuse for letting rejected,inadequate ideas persist. Intelligent design and other variants of creationism lack cred-ible support and don’t mesh with the naturalistic fabric of all other science. They

don’t deserve to be taught as legitimate scientific alternatives to evolution any morethan flat-earth cosmology does’.

Roger Bybee (2001) proposed that the nature of science should be inte-grated with the teaching of evolution in order for students to be able to see

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN322

a better representation of the NOS. In fact, the nature of science needs tobe taught along with all subjects of science in order for students to graspthe complexities involved. For college biology students, acceptance of evo-lution through natural selection was dependent upon their understanding ofwhat science is and how science works (Johnson & Peeples 1987).Jegede and Aikenhead (1999) warn that when the culture of science is at

odds with a students’ life-world culture, the student may ‘abandon or mar-ginalize his or her life-world concepts and reconstruct in their place new[scientific] ways of conceptualizing.’ They identify this as assimilation. So-cial disruptions can occur when this process begins to alienate them fromtheir society. By blindly assimilating our students in science through purelydogmatic teaching, we may be inadvertently alienating them from science.If we are to teach science, we must help students to recognize differentepistemologies. If we do not, different ways of knowing become lumped to-gether creating the conflict that appears in our college science courses andgradeschool classrooms.While teaching The History and Theory of Evolution, the researcher was

interested in whether or not significant change in college students’ under-standings of the nature of science would result from a course focusingupon evolution with explicit teaching in the NOS. Furthermore, the re-searcher investigated whether learning NOS helped students who statedapprehension about accepting the theory of evolution by natural selectionat the beginning of the course to later be less apprehensive when learningmore about the nature of science.

4. Nature of the Study

A study conducted at a medium-sized private university in the Midwestsection of the United States focused upon the First Year Seminar (FYS)course titled The History and Theory of Evolution (FYS:041). The instruc-tor was also the researcher with nineteen of 20 students participating insome or all portions of the study. One student chose not to participate,two students did not return all documents necessary for data analysis forinclusion in all portions of the quantitative analysis. Demographics in-cluded one Vietnamese-American female, one Mexican-American female,Mexican-American male, and 17 were of European descent. All studentswere first-year students 18�19 years old. No control group was availablesince only one specific course and section of that type existed on campus.Students self-selected FYS-041 from a group of 54 other FYS courses. Allstudents were required to take an FYS, however they were allowed tochoose which subject area interested them the most. Because of this, allstudents had some type of interest in learning about evolution.

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 323

4.1. DESCRIPTION OF THE COURSE

Three distinct areas were the focus of the course: (1) evolution contentwith NOS discussions, (2) NOS content and activities, and (3) an examina-tion of the perceived conflict between evolution and religion and othercontroversial science topics through historical investigation and case stud-ies of the emergence of a heliocentric solar system, plate tectonics, andevolution theories.The book Evolution (Zimmer 2001) and the companion to the video ser-

ies ‘Evolution: A Journey into Where We’re From and Where We’reGoing’ (2001) were the main sources of evolution content.While discussing the assigned readings in class, the instructor would peri-

odically ask students to consider what the scientists did and asked specificquestions about science processes and other nature of science aspects suchas the meaning of the words hypothesis, theory, and law. Videos werepaused at appropriate times in order to consider NOS concepts and issues.This was to lay the groundwork for the in-depth study of the NOS to come.Explicit teaching of the NOS can happen in many ways. Bybee (2002)

and Stinner et al. (2003) encourage the teaching of NOS concepts throughcase studies. Lederman and Abd-El-Khalick (1998) suggest several NOSactivities through which NOS can be explicitly taught. The instructor ofFYS-041 chose to use a variety of explicit NOS teaching strategies as illus-trated in Lederman and Abd-El-Khalick’s writing. Students examined aNOS tube with strings that behaved in a discrepant manner when tuggedin various directions. Fossil footprints at three different stages were inter-preted with various views followed by discussions about the NOS. Studentsexamined optical illusions and discussed scientists’ interpretation of dataand the influences of prior experiences. Other NOS activities were locatedin the book Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science (NationalResearch Council 1998).Readings in the nature of science included information from the website

of the National Center for Science Education (2005) (http://www.natcens-cied.org), ‘The Principal Elements of the Nature of Science: Dispelling theMyths’ (McComas 1998), excerpts from The Structure of Scientific Revolu-tions, 3rd edition (Kuhn 1962) as well as various readings regarding para-digm shifts in science history.The instructor considered research and publications in the NOS when

determining those specific learning objectives in the course. Eugenie Scott,executive director of the National Center for Science Education, describedthe ‘Big Three’ creationist arguments against evolution were (Dybas 2002),(1) evolution is a theory in crisis, (2) evolution and religion are incompatible,and (3) it’s only fair to teach creationism with evolution’. The FYS-041course attempted to address each of these aspects by showing the evolution

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN324

is not a scientific theory in crisis, evolution and religion are not incompatiblein a person’s life if they choose not to take the representation of ‘six creationdays’ as literal earth days, and by exploring the means by which scientifictheories are accepted and rejected meaning that the standard of ‘fairness anddemocracy’ is seldom employed. Other NOS themes chosen were fromMcComas’s work regarding nature of science myths (1998). These are theviews that were deemed ‘correct’ views of the nature of science for thiscourse.

Themes included in FYS-041 from McComas (1998)Scientific results are not routinely checked for accuracy

Acceptance of scientific knowledge takes timeScientific models do not necessarily represent realityScience is a human endeavor

Hypotheses do not become theories that do not then become lawsScientific Laws are not absoluteScientific methods are varied

Science does not ‘prove’ with absolute ‘truth’Science cannot answer all questions

Lastly, when reviewing a historical perspective of science and societythrough a variety of readings, students were asked to make connections tothe NOS. The principal book used in this portion of the course was Dar-winism Comes to America (Numbers 1998) chronicling the progression ofevolutionary ideas and the reaction of society and examined several groupspossessing different interpretations of whether or not evolution conflictedwith religious ideas. While reading this book, students were asked to keepa split journal of notes on one side of the page and their comments andquestions on the right hand side of the page. The student comments andquestions were utilized during class discussion.

5. Methods

The instructor wished to identify what specific NOS understandings existedas well as working to categorize misconceptions into representations of epi-stemic views. Ryan and Aikenhead (1992) indicated that many students’naı̈ve ideas fell in the realm of logical positivism � otherwise termed ‘sci-entism’. Ryan and Aikenhead pointed to work by Nadeau and Desautels(1984) who dissected the naı̈ve views of scientism into five categories:

1. Naı̈ve realism: scientific knowledge is the reflection of things as they actually are.

2. Blissful empiricism: all scientific knowledge derived directly and exclusively fromobservation of phenomena.3. Credulous experimentalism: experimentation makes possible conclusive verificationof hypotheses.

4. Blind idealism: the scientist is a completely disinterested, objective being.5. Excessive rationalism: science brings us gradually nearer the truth.

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 325

By studying the NOS embedded in the context of evolution, the instruc-tor intended for students to become less agitated and nervous when learn-ing about evolution. Michael Clough, in a short course in the nature ofscience (2000) provided evidence that after learning about the NOSstudents felt more open to scientific ideas that originally seemed to con-flict with their religion. In FYS-041, students were asked to confront theirideas of science and religion as they learned about evolution and thenature of science. This was to assist them in discerning between religionand science allowing them to be less concerned about a possible religiousconflict (Martin-Hansen, 2003).The Views on Science-Technology-Society (VOSTS)1 instrument was used

to explore students’ understandings in the nature of science. This instru-ment was chosen because the researcher was able to assign quantitativemeasures to student responses. Each item began with a scenario or a shortdescriptive stem to which students are to select from a variety of responses.Students were also given an open-ended option by responding ‘I don’tunderstand. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice, or‘None of these choices fit my basic viewpoint,’ to which students were di-rected to include a written explanation as to how that answer representedtheir viewpoint. Sometimes students used the last multiple choice option tocombine examples from the previous choices with an explanation as to whythe two should be considered together. The other desirable aspect of theVOSTS was that the student responses were generated using empirical datafrom thousands of secondary students in Canada rather than items createdsolely by researchers (Aikenhead & Ryan 1992; Ryan & Aikenhead 1992).To guard against misinterpretation of student responses, two researcherswell versed in nature of science and employed at another institution wererecruited for data analysis. The researchers and the author collaborated tocome to a consensus on the labeling of student responses into: naı̈ve, some-what informed, and informed responses. This is similar to the way datainterpretation is coded using the various versions of VNOS with the maindifference that a student could choose a response or create a new responsethat matches his or her idea rather strictly requiring a constructed response.A smaller sample (n = 5) of interviews were conducted following adminis-tration of the VOSTS to elicit student ideas and to clarify any ambiguities.The naive, somewhat informed, and informed responses were given numeri-cal values (0 = naive, 1 = somewhat informed, 2 = informed responses)so that item analysis could be conducted.In addition to the VOSTS items, qualitative data gathering included auto-

biographies of evolution (pre and post), two assigned papers written aboutthe nature of science. Papers were read and coded to identify specific themesand philosophical viewpoints of students. The constant-comparative method

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN326

of data analysis (Lincoln & Guba 1985) was employed examining units ofdata and placing the units into emergent categories. All qualitative datawere coded to represent themes in the nature of science, understandings ofthe nature of science (naı̈ve, somewhat informed, or sophisticated views) andfeelings about science (apprehension versus comfort) as well as identifyingother emergent themes. The essays were examined multiple times using theconstant-comparative method. These methods are in concert with publishedqualitative research methodology (Lincoln & Guba 1985). The essay themeswere not ‘scored’ numerically as the VOSTS items were. The themes wereused for data triangulation providing a richer view of the experience.

6. Data Collection

Twenty-three of the 114 original VOSTS items were selected. Tworesearchers from a nearby university collaborated with the author to cometo a consensus in the interpretation of scores. Of the 23 VOSTS items se-lected five items were later discarded after consultation due to difficulty ininterpreting data in a quantitative fashion. The items that proved to be dif-ficult to interpret were affective in nature where a student might explainhow he or she felt about a particular scientific aspect. Of the remainingitems that focused on NOS understandings, each item was assigned anumerical value, 0 = naı̈ve student view, 1 = somewhat informed,2 = sophisticated. A t-test of paired samples (SPSS 10 for MacIntosh) wasused for item analysis comparing the means of each item in pre and post-test data. A two-tailed test was administered where p <0.002. a was di-vided by 18 (number of test items) in order to avoid spurious data. Thisresulted in the p <0.002.Qualitative data were gathered from student papers. Topics assigned to

student papers included the nature of science2 (pre and post) a term paperdescribing the perceived conflict of science and religion, and an autobiog-raphy of evolution3 (pre and post), and split journal entries. Interviews ofa small random sample of students (n = 5) were also conducted by a grad-uate student, however data was lost due to poor audio records and had tobe discarded from overall analysis.

7. Results and Discussion

At the beginning of the course, seven of 19 students (37%) reported priorapprehension or negative experiences in their evolution autobiographiesregarding their learning about evolution and society.

‘It was always God’s way or the highway (the one that leads to Hell!).

This student felt pressure from the religious community to reject evolution.

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 327

‘Evolution made me question a lot of beliefs that I had, but the main one was that ifpeople were wrong about God creating man, then they could be wrong about the

whole heaven concept as well’.

Accepting the concept of evolution would mean that the student had in-jected more doubt about the literal interpretation of the Bible. If the Gene-sis creation story was not true, then perhaps it was possible that otherportions, i.e. heaven, was not a reality as well.A student described a case in high school when he presented a paper

about evolution to the class saying that

‘Some in that group [creationists] thought that I should have been failed because therewas no real scientific basis for most of my conclusions; they were brought on by con-

jecture and probability’.

The teacher did not address the issue which would have clearly related tothe nature of science and ultimately did not support that student. Appre-hension in this case resulted from dealing with Creationists’ views in theclassroom without mediation or affirmation by the teacher regarding thescientific view.

One Young Earth Creationist stated ‘I learned how you can’t just pick and choosewhat you want to believe out of the Bible or you really don’t believe’.

A literal view of the Bible required this student to reject a scientific view ofcreation. This student held tightly to the theistic worldview. However, it isunknown whether all of the Bible was interpreted in a literal view, or onlythose portions that the person chose to emphasize. For instance, in the OldTestament it was said to be ‘abhorrent’ to eat food after 3 days. If weinterpret this literally, how many people are guilty of this sin?

One respondent wrote that ‘I was apprehensive because it seemed like if I acceptedthe theory of evolution then I would be viewed on the same level as an atheist or a

Satanic person’.

This student was aware of societal pressure not to accept a scientific theory of evolution.

A student reported that ‘During my first week [at the university], a girl asked me what

my FYS was and after finding out, she gave me a dirty look and tried to preach Godto me’.

After completing the FYS course, several students reported fewer instancesof apprehensiveness when learning about evolution through natural selec-tion. Five different students’ comments are listed below. Overall, six stu-dents reported feeling less apprehensive, three reported still feeling anxiousdue to conflict with belief or conflict with interacting with others who be-lieved differently, and eight reported no anxious feelings.

(Less apprehensive) ‘The notion that natural selection was bound to be attributed tothe development of life, in my opinion, makes the attempts of creationists to refute

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN328

evolution less intimidating. Furthermore, learning of the scientific community’sreaction to creationism has lessened the severity of my reactions to them’.

(Less apprehensive) quoted a portion of Finding Darwin’s God (Miller, 2000) to ex-plain his own view, ‘In the absence of such misunderstanding, science and religion cando more than coexist. They can become partners in an enterprise that strengthens the

spirit, deepens our understanding of the wonders of nature, and enriches the humansoul’.(Less apprehensive) ‘I’ve found a view on life that puts my mind at ease and allow meto pursue knowledge without fear’.

(Less apprehensive) ‘I see evolution very differently now as opposed to when I firstheard about it. I remember feeling that it was a ‘naughty’ thing to believe in andthat if I did, I would no longer be able to believe in God. Now I feel silly for

thinking such things. I am glad that I was put in this class because I feel it hadtruly enlightened me. This course has taught me to think logically and scientificallyand to look at the opposing issues of a subject and examine them critically to gain

a well-rounded understanding’.

(Less apprehensive) ‘When it comes to my apprehension level when it comes totalking about evolution, I think that it is pretty low. When people are talkingabout evolution and creation, and they are arguing for creation, then I get a little

apprehensive’.

Research regarding students’ misconceptions is consistent with these find-ings (McComas 1998; Ryan & Aikenhead 1992).At the end of the course, the 23 selected VOSTS items were re-ad-

ministered. As mentioned above, collaboration with other NOS re-searchers resulted in the elimination of five VOSTS items due todifficulties with interpretation of the data. Some of the items measureddesired characteristics of people applying scientific ideas to their lives,affective characteristics rather than nature of science concepts. The itemswere not easily categorized as naive, somewhat informed, or sophisti-cated understandings. It would be possible to report those items as per-centages but not in a quantitative value for comparison betweenpre- and post-tests.Individual VOSTS item numbers are displayed below. Items omitted

due to difficulty in data interpretation as described earlier are in par-entheses. A higher score indicates a greater understanding of the NOS(see Table I).The largest raw score changes in students’ nature of science understand-

ings were made in items 8, 10, and 18. Item 18 should be noted as beingindividually statistically significant (p<0.002). Some test items chosen atthe beginning of the course were not emphasized during the course andtherefore have unusual, namely negative, results. Items numbered #5, #6,#20, #21, #22 were omitted from t-tests since the items described disposi-tions rather than a belief statement as earlier described. Detailed discussionof items with greatest gains follows.

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 329

8. Scientists are honest in their research work (for example, when they write

a research report)

Item #8 points to the human side of science. Scientists are only as honestas any other representative group in society. Because they are scientistsdoes not necessarily make them more trustworthy compared to nonscien-tists. Through examination of how science changes over time (normal sci-ence versus extraordinary science) students learned more about howscientists gather data. This occurred when explicit teaching regarding theNOS was done through selected class readings. Again, students movedaway from their blind idealistic viewpoints.

An example of a naı̈ve view is:

B. Scientists are honest in their work because their results must be accurate and precise.Informed view:G. Some scientists are honest, some are dishonest. You cannot generalize because sci-

entists are individuals like any other group of Americans.

Scientists are only as honest as any other human. They are not a special‘breed’ of human that behaves differently.

9. When scientists disagree on an issue (for example, whether or not

low-level radiation is harmful), they disagree mostly because they

do not have all the facts. Such scientific opinion has NOTHING to do

with moral values (right or wrong conduct) or with personal motives

(personal recognition, pleasing employers, or pleasing funding agencies)

A. because not all the facts have been discovered. Scientific opinion is based entirely

on observable facts and scientific understanding.

An example of a naı̈ve view:A selection of this item would imply that students feel that facts ‘speak

for themselves’ and are not interpreted differently by humans. The student

Table I. Class scores per item number pre- and post-test � VOSTS

Item # 1. 2. 3. 4. (5.) (6.) 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Pre 15.5 24.5 11 21 (20) (24) 6 19 27 13 11 5

Post 20 33 19 34 (30) (26) 4 25 28 27 11 14

Total possible score = 34

(affective or opinion items removed)

Demonstrating informed NOS understanding

Item # 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. (20.) (21.) (22.) 23.

Pre 23 3 18 19 17 7 6 (19) (13) (23) 5

Post 28 6 24 26 24 29 18 (16) (20) (21.5) 20

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN330

would argue that differences in opinion are due to insufficient factualinformation.

F. when different scientist interpret the facts differently (or interpret the significance of

the facts differently). This happens mostly because of personal opinions, moral values,personal priorities, or politics. (Often the disagreement is over possible risks and bene-fits to society.)

J. Scientists may interpret the same set of facts differently because of their prior expe-riences and assumptions that influence the way they view data or they way that theycome to conclusions.

Somewhat informed view:In this case, students recognize that scientists do interpret data differ-

ently, but the reason for the differing interpretation is due to society.An informed view:

Students moved from a naı̈ve view of science being objective in its inter-pretation of facts (data) to a more sophisticated understanding that factscan be interpreted differently due to prior experience and scientists’ politi-cal and religious viewpoints may, indeed, influence their work consciouslyor subconsciously.

10. Scientific ideas develop from hypotheses to theories, and finally, if they

are good enough, to being scientific laws

This item was addressed very clearly in William McComas’s chapter regard-ing myths in the nature of science from The Nature of Science in ScienceEducation (1998). The instructor presented a list of the myths on a chalk-board. Students were shocked when they read the list since many possessedthose misconceptions. They were then assigned to work in pairs to become‘experts’ in assigned myths and to make a presentation to the class explain-ing how and why that particular item was a myth. Other readings, includ-ing excerpts from Kuhn’s Structures of Scientific Revolutions (1962) book,provided greater detail regarding normal and revolutionary science. Stu-dents were required to synthesize this information in a paper explainingtheir understanding of the nature of science. The VOSTS item indicates(with supporting evidence from student papers) that students internalizedthe concept that hypotheses do not become theories that, inturn, becomelaws. This particular test item was statistically significant in the students’conceptual change from pre-test to post-test (p<0.002).Even though many items displayed a more positive trend toward better

understandings of the nature of science, one particular item is noted as areversal.

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 331

11. The best scientists are always very open-minded, logical, unbiased and

objective in their work. These personal characteristics are needed for

doing the best science

On the pre-test, three of 19 (16%) students displayed informed views, fourof 19 (21%) reported somewhat informed views, and 12 of 19 (63%) se-lected a naı̈ve view. On the VOSTS post-test, two of 17 (11%) selected aninformed view, 15 of 17 (88%) displayed naı̈ve views. It is possible thateven though students felt scientists may have different interpretations offacts due to the ‘humanness’ of scientists and their underlying ideas of the-ories (Item 15), they still felt that some scientists could actually view phe-nomena without bias. The two most selected views were:

(Item C chosen by 5 of 17 students) The characteristics of being open-minded, logical,unbiased and objective are not enough. The best scientists also need other personaltraits such as imagination, intelligence and honesty.

(Item E chosen by 5 of 17 students) The best scientists do NOT necessarily display

these personal characteristics because it depends on the individual scientist. Some arealways open-minded, objective, etc. in their work; while others can become closed-minded, subjective, etc. in their work.

12. Discussion of Qualitative Findings

Qualitative data confirmed the trend toward a better understanding of thenature of science. While two students still exhibited naı̈ve understandingsof the nature of science, 15 other students’ writings displayed movementtoward ‘somewhat informed’ or ‘informed’ views of the nature of science.Interestingly, the two students stating naı̈ve understandings were both self-proclaimed young earth creationists. Themes generated from the constant-comparative method of qualitative analysis included:

Themes from Term Paper: What is Science?MisconceptionsEvolution is ‘just a theory’ (flawed due to science not being perfect)

Proof is an issue � science must be (or can be) 100% certain

The two Young Earth Creationists made statements downplaying theimportance of scientific theories. The ultimate truth in all matters for thesestudents is the Christian Bible. Ultimate truth also meant accepting a lit-eral translation for a six Earth-day creation. They still felt that science nee-ded to be 100% certain in its ‘proof’ in order to be reliable.

More accurate views of science and/or religion100% proof is not needed in science

Science is conducted differently from religious way of knowingScience is a human endeavor and does not necessarily lead to ‘truth’

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN332

Fifteen of 17 students described science as both process and knowledgewhere humans attempt to describe phenomena to the best of their abilities.They described science as never being 100% certain but that scientists canfeel more certain they are on the right track when their theories predict fu-ture phenomena.

Other issuesFelt evolution discredited God

Two students described the role of a God as being less magnificent if thisGod did not create the world in six days. To them, a scientific explanationof creation discredited God.

Apprehension about evolution before taking the course

Lack of apprehension about evolution following the courseReligious conflict with friends or family when discussing evolution

Additionally, fifteen of the 17 students reported that they felt they under-stood evolution better and were more confident and either less apprehen-sive or not apprehensive about accepting evolution through naturalselection as a working scientific theory. As a result, the original 38% whoreported feeling apprehensive learning about evolution at the beginning ofthe course, was reduced to 12% by the end of the course.

Spiritual viewsGod could have made evolution occur

Became more spiritual when considering that science does not rule out the presence ofa God.Class impacted the students’ worldview

Unlike the Young Earth Creationists, most students who expressed spiritualviews stated that God could have been instrumental in evolution. To them,evolution was the mechanism God used to create the universe. Several stu-dents described how they originally felt conflict between religious and scien-tific worldviews, but in the end were able to reconcile their views to remainspiritual people who also accepted the scientific explanation of evolutionincluding the human race emerging from another animal species.The two Young Earth Creationists (YECs) held tightly to their views

and still felt conflict. In fact, one Young Earth Creationist had begunclass as an Old Earth Creationist who became even more entrenched increationism as time progressed (student 3). Part of that, he explained,was due to his attendance in a presentation on campus by a creationistexplaining all the ways that science was flawed and why creationism wasthe only explanation of origins that should be accepted. Although theydid not report (in their autobiographies of evolution) feeling apprehensiveduring class, in class they did openly state their reasons why they couldnot ‘believe’ in evolution. Even though the YECs agreed that science

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 333

cannot answer all questions, they still viewed science as trying to ‘dis-prove God and His creation’ � an attempt to answer the God question.YECs proposed, ‘If a less literal interpretation of the Bible is accepted,then what else in the Bible will be thrown out?’ Any doubt in the literal‘truth’ within the Bible results in doubt of the entire document. Their en-tire faith was based upon this literal interpretation. They clung to theneed for undisputable ‘facts’.

‘The theory of evolution through natural selection did conflict directly with my own

personal beliefs. I learned that there isn’t as much evidence [100% proof] supportingevolution as all my other biology classes have taught and that evolution is just theoryand not fact. I believe in the bible and what the bible says. I think that the world andeverything in it was created in six literal days’.

An unexpected and unintended result was that three students reportedbecoming more religious in their habits by attending worship services andin the description of their thoughts. One student was of Catholic faith, oneProtestant, and one of Jewish faith. Excerpts from two evolution autobiog-raphies (post-version) are reprinted below.

‘I think I have learned not only facts and ideas about science, but something newabout myself, and actually have become a more spiritual person because of it’.

‘Many times I struggled with my acceptance of evolution. Evolution made me feel asthough I had no special place in existence. This is what, I feel, prevents many peoplefrom choosing to accept evolution. They feel as though their spirituality is stripped form

them if ‘God’ did not specifically place them here. I had to redefine, or more or less de-fine in general, my spirituality in order to coincide with evolution (which is reversed formost people).... I simply came to the conclusion, however, which later found out wassupported by Darwin, that just because I may not have been specifically made by God,

[evolution] does not strip me of my spirituality. Darwin said that all things, even God,must work within the laws of nature. Science cannot explain why but only how’.

The students explained that they felt that it would now be permissible to nur-ture the spiritual side of their lives while still accepting the theory of evolu-tion. They reported that, before the FYS course, the acceptance of thattheory had actually interfered with their religious faiths because they felt thatthe scientific theory contradicted their personal beliefs. Eugenie Scott had re-ferred to that belief as one of the ‘Big Three’ in terms of conflict between sci-ence and religion (Dybas 2002). In the end, they were able to reconcile the two.

13. Difficulties Encountered and Future Implications

Since the instructor was also the researcher, more bias than a study con-ducted where the researcher was not also the instructor, may have oc-curred. Collaborating with other NOS researchers in data interpretationaided in keeping the study as unbiased as possible.

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN334

Future plans to offer the course again in the fall of 2004 fell throughwith budget cuts in the instructor’s department. However, there are plansto conduct a similar study in a larger institution in several general biologyclasses with control groups in the near future.The small sample size may create problems in the reliability of the re-

sults of the statistical data. It is advised to take this into considerationwhen referring to this study.As earlier stated, two students resistant to acceptance of the theory of

evolution through natural selection held tightly to their religious views.Using the book Evolution (Zimmer 2001) and the video series Evolu-tion: A Journey Into Where We’re From and Where We’re Going(2001) may have caused one creationist to more tightly hold on to hisbeliefs. He felt that the explanations contained within the book and vi-deo were not specific enough to be convincing. After reading about hu-man evolution, the young earth creationist and a formerly old earthcreationist then later becoming a self-proclaimed young earth creationistwere even more convinced that scientists were grasping at straws andmaking conjectures that were huge leaps in logic. They were amazedthat biologists could draw conclusions when observing partial skeletons.One stated, ‘The Evolution textbook used many vague and speculativestatements dealing with evolution. That made me doubt evolution muchmore’.The two young-earth creationists felt incomplete skeletons, or incomplete

records of any sort, would not be enough evidence to support the theoryof evolution. This led the researcher to consider that the course did notadequately address the amount of evidence supporting evolution versus cre-ationism to address ‘a theory in crisis’ (Dybas 2002). Perhaps studentscould be assigned searches for research studies in evolution. The sheernumber of reports could be discussed as evidence for a strong theory inpractice refuting the idea of a theory in crisis. However, it is uncertainwhether or not additional sources of evolution content or different sourceswould have provided enough specificity and detail to convince this studentto accept the theory of evolution. One Young Earth Creationist wrote, ‘Ifelt that there wasn’t any real evidence that was presented to support evo-lution. We mainly learned about different theories, not about the evidencesupporting these theories’. To contrast this, other students (not creation-ists) felt there was overwhelming evidence presented in the course to con-vince people that evolution is a valid theory. One student reported, ‘I don’tunderstand how people who are so devoted to the bible can twist andmold the bible to accommodate the evidence that is constantly being dis-covered to support evolution. It seems to me, that instead of sticking by

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 335

their beliefs, they are just changing them so they don’t look like they werewrong’.Additional readings could provide more of a chance for students to

internalize many different aspects of the NOS. Students reported great dif-ficulty dissecting Kuhn’s descriptions and examples of the nature of sci-ence. For first year students, Kuhn’s descriptive writing was above manyof their heads. However, it is to be noted that William McComas’s piece(1998) was very intelligible and effective.

14. Recommendations

There is a great need for students to confront their ideas about the natureof science in all science classes. One class cannot adequately address thecomplexities. In order to do this, teachers need a better understanding ofthe NOS. Most students said they had never learned about nature of sci-ence concepts explicitly before. One student stated,

‘In addition, [during] the discussion of the common delusions about science, it

occurred to me that they need not be as problematic among laymen as they are. Manyof them, like the confusion about the relationship between scientific theories and laws,could easily be prevented from forming during secondary science education’.

Ronald Anderson (2005) suggested that teachers understand differentworldviews. In addition to that understanding, he proposed that we ap-proach evolution in a constructivist manner where students are developingtheir own understandings.

‘Constructivist approaches to teaching demand this broader perspective. First, stu-

dents must develop their own understandings, and the personal elements related tothe teaching of evolution make this matter especially imperative. Second, full under-standing is only gained by considering a topic in multiple contexts; contextual learn-

ing is an important aspect of constructivist teaching. Third, constructivist teachingalso demands attention to students’ prior conceptions � obviously highly varied inthis case � and their many ways of knowing. A science teacher does not have to‘‘teach’’ a variety of epistemologies to his or her students, but any competent tea-

cher should be able to solicit from students their varied ways of knowing and helpthem develop a conceptual map of such matters and where they personally fit intoit. Finally, understandings are socially constructed and it appears that this topic is

one where this aspect is especially applicable’.

Another recommendation is that we must require students to take moreevolution related courses (Moore 2002). Several students had said thatthey never learned about evolution formally in school. One student saidthat a high school teacher reported feeling apprehensive about teachingevolution.

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN336

‘Up until high school, teachers would dance around the subject, ask for release slips,or excuse students who refused to study such ‘nonsense.’’

Roger Bybee (2001) found ‘clear and compelling reasons to teach ourstudents about scientific inquiry and the nature of science.’ He proposesthat biological evolution is a good place to do this. However, for arobust understanding of the nature of science, and Bybee would mostlikely agree, the NOS needs to be taught all though the biology year sothat students do not see NOS tied only to evolution. Some teachersalready teach evolution throughout the year, integrating it into manydifferent areas of biology so that students can see the connections andso that parents do not view evolution as a ‘‘chapter’’ easily removedfrom the curriculum. Adding learning about nature of science would bea natural next step. Going a step further, all science teachers includingchemistry, physical science, physics, earth science, environmental scienceand biology should be addressing NOS concepts with explicit activitiesand reflection so that students see the NOS in all aspects of science.Biology is certainly not the only subject fraught with difficulties due tothe Young Earth Creationists’ views. Earth science uses radiometric dat-ing and sometimes carbon dating to determine approximate ages ofmaterials. The theory of Uniformitarianism means that what is happen-ing now in geology in terms of sedimentary deposition, igneous intru-sions and generation, and metamorphic change has taken place forbillions of years. No catastrophic event caused folding in the mountains,the layering of different types of sedimentary rock, and a sudden inclu-sion of fossils.It is possible that additional activities and discussions of what consti-

tutes scientific evidence are needed as opposed to a religious text or anopinion not based upon scientific evidence. This course did not includeany case studies dealing with current problems. Perhaps a case studysuch as genetically modified foods, stem cell research and other casestudies rich with ethical considerations could be examined for scientificevidence and identification of cultural issues that influence our actions insociety.For those educators who wish to have a better understanding of the

NOS, the resources Science for All Americans, (1993) Teaching aboutEvolution and the Nature of Science (NRC 1998) and Defending Evolution(Alters & Alters 2001) can be incredibly helpful. The NRC bookdescribes several activities that can be done with a class as well asproviding background material and classroom examples. The book TheNature of Science in Science Education Rationales and Strategies edited byWilliam McComas (1998) is another helpful resource for teachers andhigher education instructors with specific activities for explicitly teaching

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 337

nature of science concepts and discussion of the implications for scienceand science education. The resources cited above list several suggestionsfor working with students possessing creationist viewpoints. Be calm andpolite when dealing with controversial issues. Engage a discussion about�What is religion and what is science?’ Have students share their viewsbefore delving into evolution, verbally or in writing, and discuss thoserespectfully thereby assuring them that you are not attacking their per-sonal faith. Do not participate in or host debates between evolution andcreationism. Few, if any, students possess the background to deal withthese complicated issues in a debate format. Usually the evolution side ofthe debate has to spend the entire time educating the creationist side onevolution content and the nature of science rather than actually debatingwhether or not a creationist viewpoint should be included in a scienceclassroom (Alters & Alters 2001).

John Staver (1999) gives us this charge, ‘We in the scientific and science education

communities need to accept a portion of the accountability for the public’s level ofunderstanding of evolution theory. We also need to accept a responsibility for andmake a commitment to participate in a reconnect of the public with respect of its

understanding of evolution in particular and science in general’.

Appendix

VIEWS ON SCIENCE-TECHNOLOGY-SOCIETY (VOSTS)

Formatting has been altered for concise inclusion in this publication

INSTRUCTIONS TO STUDENTS:Each question of the VOSTS inventory begins with a statement about a

science�technology�society topic. Most of these statements express anextreme view on the topic. You my happen to agree strongly with thisview; you may happen to disagree vigorously; or your own position maybe in between the two. Next, there is a list of positions (or viewpoints) onthe issue. These usually go from one extreme to the other. You are askedto choose one of these positions, BUT ONLY ONE � the one that comesclosest to your personal view or belief. To summarize:

• Read the statement carefully.• Think to yourself whether you agree or disagree with the statement, or

can’t make up your mind.• Then read the list of different positions on the topic.• Pick the one that comes closest to your own position.

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN338

Every page ends with the same three positions. Here is how you can usethem if you wish:

There are no ‘‘right’’ answers; this is not a test. We simply want tounderstand what your position is on a number of issues about science andabout how it relates to technology and society.

PLEASE DO NOT MAKE ANY MARKS IN THE QUESTIONBOOKLET

1. (VOSTS item #2) Defining science is difficult because science is com-

plex and does many things. But MAINLY science is:

Your position, basically: (Please read from A to K, and then choose one.)

X ‘‘I don’t understand.’’ This choice is included in case there is a key word or phrase that

you just don’t understand.

Y ‘‘I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

Z ‘‘None of these choices fit my basic viewpoint.’’ This choice can be used when none of

the other positions comes close to your own belief, or when you want to combine two

or more choices into one position. In this case, please write your position regarding the item.

A. a study of fields such as biology, chemistry and physics.

B. a body of knowledge, such as principles, laws and theories, which explain

the world around us (matter, energy and life).

C. exploring the unknown and discovering new things about our world and

universe and how they work.

D. carrying out experiments to solve problems of interest about the world

around us.

E. inventing or designing things (for example, artificial hearts, computers,

space vehicles).

F. finding and using knowledge to make this world a better place to live in (for

example, curing diseases, solving pollution and improving agriculture).

G. an organization of people (called scientists) who have ideas and techniques

for discovering new knowledge.

H. No one can define science.

I. I don’t understand.

J. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

K. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 339

2. (VOSTS item #11). A country’s politics affect that country’s scientists.

This happens because scientists are very much a part of a country’s society

(that is, scientists are not isolate from their society).Your position basically: (Please read from A to M, and then choose one.)

3. (VOSTS ITEM #16) Some cultures have a particular viewpoint on

nature and man. Scientists and scientific research are affected by the

religious or ethical views of the culture where the work is done.Your position basically: (Please read from A to J, and then choose one.)

Scientists ARE affected by their country’s politics:

A. because funding for science comes mainly from governments which control

the way the money is spent. Scientists sometimes have to lobby for funds.

B. because governments set policy for science by giving money to some

research project and not others.

C. because governments set policy regarding new developments and new

projects, whether the government funds them or not. Government policy

affects the type of projects scientists will work on.

D. because politics limits and controls scientists by telling them what research

to do.

E. because governments can force scientists to work on a project which

scientists feel

is wring (for example, weapons research), and therefore not allow the

scientists

to work on projects beneficial to society.

F. because scientists are a part of society and are affected like everyone else.

G. because scientists try to understand and help society and thus, because of

their

involvement and importance to society, scientists are closely tied to society.

H. It depends on the country, and the stability or type of government it has.

Scientists are NOT affected by their country’s politics:

I. because scientific research has nothing to do with politics.

J. because scientists are isolated from their society.

K. I don’t understand.

L. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

M. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My viewpoint is:

Religious or ethical views DO influence scientific research:

A. because some cultures want specific research done for the benefit of that

culture.

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN340

4. (VOSTS ITEM #19.) Within the U.S. there are groups of people who

feel stongly in favor of or strongly against some research field. Science and

technology projects are influenced by these special interest groups (such as

environmentalists, religious organiations, and animal rights people)

Your position, basically: (Please read from A to K, and then choose one.)

B. because scientists may unconsciously choose research that would support

their vulture’s views.

C. because most scientists will not do research which goes against their

upbringing or their beliefs.

D. because everyone is different in the way they react to their culture. It is

these individual differences in scientists that influence the type of research

done.

E. because powerful groups representing certain religious, political or cultural

beliefs will support certain research projects, or will give money to prevent

certain research from occurring.

Religious or ethical views do NOT influence scientific research:

F. because research continues in spite of clashes between scientists and certain

religious or cultural groups (for example, clashes over evolution and cre-

ation).

G. because scientists will research topics which are of importance to science

and scientists, regardless of cultural or ethical views.

H. I don’t understand.

I. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

J. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

Special interest groups do have an influence:

A. because they have the power to stop some research project an that field of

science suffers.

B. because they have the power to tell scientists which projects are important

to do or not to do.

C. because they influence public opinion and therefore the scientists.

D. because they influence government policy and governments decide whether

to fund a research project or not.

E. because some special interest groups give money for certain research pro-

ject. Some other special interest groups give money to prevent certain re-

search project.

F. Special interest groups try to have an influence but they don’t always

succeed because scientists and technologists have the final say.

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 341

5. (VOSTS ITEM #29) Scientists and engineers should be the ones to decide

on future biotechnology in the U.S. (for example, recombinant DNA, gene

splicing, developing ore-digging bacteria or snow-making bacteria, etc.) be-

cause scientists and engineers are the people who know the facts best.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to J, and then choose one.)

Scientists and engineers should decide:

A. because they have the training and facts which give them a better under-

standing of the issue.

B. because they have the knowledge and can make better decisions than

government bureaucrats or private companies, both of whom have vested

interests.

C. because they have the training and facts which give them a better under-

standing; BUT the public should be involved � either informed or con-

sulted.

D. The decision should be made equally; viewpoints of scientists and engineers,

other specialists, and the informed public should all be considered in deci-

sions which affect our society.

E. The government should decide because the issue is basically a political one;

BUT scientists and engineers should give advice.

F. The public should decide the decision affects everyone; BUT scientists and

engineers should give advice.

G. The public should decide because the public serves as a check on the sci-

entist and engineers. Scientists and engineers have idealistic and narrow

views on the issue and thus pay little attention to consequences.

H. I don’t understand.

I. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

J. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint.

Special interest groups do NOT have an influence:

G. because the government decides the direction that research will take.

H. because science and government decide what projects are important and

they do them no matter what special interest groups say.

I. I don’t understand.

J. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

K. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN342

6. (VOSTS ITEM #41.) In your everyday life, knowledge of science and

technology helps you personally solve practical problems (for example, get-

ting a car out of a snowdrift, cooking, or caring for a pet.) This item waswithdrawn from this study due to its affective nature.Your position basically: (Please read from A to J, and then choose one.)

7. (VOSTS ITEM #55.) The best scientists are always very open-minded,

logical, unbiased and objective in their work. These personal characteristics

are needed for doing the best science.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to I, and then choose one.)

The systematic reasoning taught in science classes (for example, hypothesizing, gathering data,

being logical):

A. helps me solve some problems in my daily life. Everyday problems are more

easily and logically solved if treated like science problems.

B. gives me greater knowledge and understanding of everyday problem.

However, the problem solving techniques we learn are not directly useful in

my daily life.

C. Ideas and facts I learn from science classes sometimes help me solve

problems or make decisions about such things as cooking, keeping healthy,

or explaining a wide variety of physical events.

D. The systematic reasoning and the ideas and facts I learn from science

classes help me a lot. They help me solve certain problems and understand a

wide variety of physical events (for example, thunder or quasars).

E. What I learn from science class generally does not help me solve practical

problems; but it does help me notice, relate to, and understand, the world

around me.

What I learn from science class does not relate to my everyday life:

F. biology, chemistry and physics are not practical for me. They emphasize the-

oretical and technical details that have little to do with my day-to-day world.

G. my problems are solved by paste experience or by knowledge unrelated to

science and technology.

H. I don’t understand.

I. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

J. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint.

A. The best scientists display these characteristics otherwise science will suffer.

B. The best scientists display these characteristics because the more of these

characteristics you have, the better you’ll do at science.

C. These characteristics are not enough. The best scientists also need other

personal traits such as imagination, intelligence and honesty.

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 343

8. (VOSTS ITEM #61) Scientists are honest in their research work (for

example, when they write a research report).Your position basically: (Please read from A to J, and then choose one.)

The best scientists do NOT necessarily display these personal characteristics:

D. because the best scientists sometimes become so deeply involved, interested

or trained in their field, that they can be closed-minded, biased, subjective,

and not always logical in their work.

E. because it depends on the individual scientist. Some are always open-

minded, objective, etc. in their work; while others can become closed-

minded, subjective, etc. in their work.

F. The best scientists do NOT display these personal characteristics any more

than the average scientist. These characteristics are NOT necessary for

doing good science.

G. I don’t understand.

H. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

I. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

A. Everyone, including a scientist, tries to be honest.

B. Scientists are honest in their work because their results must be accurate

and precise.

C. Scientists are honest in their work because their work affects the well-being

of society.

D. Scientist are honest in their work because all results are checked by other

scientists; so they need to be honest.

E. Scientists are usually honest in their work. But sometimes they doctor their

results because of the need formore research funding, timedeadlines, the need

to please an employer or government agency, or the desire for recognition.

F. Scientist are NOT honest in their work because sometimes they doctor their

results out of the need for more research funding, time deadlines, the need

to please an employer or government agency, or the desire for recognition.

G. Some scientists are honest, some are dishonest. You cannot generalize

because scientists are individuals like any other group of Americans.

H. I don’t understand.

I. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

J. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN344

9. (VOSTS ITEM #62) A scientist’s religious views will NOT make a dif-

ference to the scientific discoveries he or she makes.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to G, and then choose one.)

10. (VOSTS ITEM #72.) When scientists disagree on an issue (for exam-

ple, whether or not low-level radiation is harmful), they disagree mostly

because they do not have all the facts. Such scientific opinion has NOTH-

ING to do with moral values (right or wrong conduct) or with personal

motives (personal recognition, pleasing employers, or pleasing funding

agencies).Your position, basically: (Please read from A to J, and then choose one.)

A. Religious views do not make a difference. Scientists make discoveries based

on scientific theories and experimental methods, not on religious beliefs.

Religious beliefs are outside the domain of science.

B. It depends on the particular religion itself, and on the strength or impor-

tance of an individual’s religious views.

Religious views do make a difference:

C. because religious views will determine how you judge science ideas.

D. because sometimes religious views may affect what scientists do or what

problems they choose to work on.

E. I don’t understand.

F. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

G. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

A. because not all the facts have been discovered. Scientific opinion is based

entirely on observable facts and scientific understanding.

B. because different scientists are aware of different facts. Scientific opinion is

based entirely on a scientist’s awareness of the facts.

C. when different scientists interpret the facts differently (or interpret the sig-

nificance of the facts differently). This happens because of different scien-

tific theories, NOT because of moral values or personal motives.

D. mostly because of different or incomplete facts, but partly because of sci-

entists’ different personal opinions, moral values, or personal motives.

E. for a number of reasons � any combination of the following: lack of facts,

misinformation, different theories, personal opinions, moral values, public

recognition, and pressure from companies or governments.

F. when different scientist interpret the facts differently (or interpret the sig-

nificance of the facts differently). This happens mostly because of personal

opinions, moral values, personal priorities, or politics. (Often the dis-

agreement is over possible risks and benefits to society.)

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 345

11. (VOSTS ITEM #73) When a new scientific theory is proposed, scien-

tists must decide whether to accept it or not. Their decision is based objec-

tively on the facts that support the theory. Their decision is not influenced by

their subjective feelings or by personal motives.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to H, and then choose one.)

12. (VOSTS ITEM #74) When a new scientific theory is proposed, scien-

tists must decide whether to accept it or not. Scientists make this decision by

consensus; that is, proposers of the theory must convince a large majority of

fellow scientists to believe the new theory.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to I, and then choose one.)

A. Scientists’ decisions are based solely on the facts, otherwise the theory

would not be properly supported and the theory could be inaccurate,

useless or even harmful.

B. Scientists’ decisions are based on more than just the facts. Decisions are

based on whether the theory has been successfully tested many times, on

how logical the theory is compared with other theories, and on how simply

the theory explains all the facts.

C. It depends on the individual scientist. Some scientists will be influenced by

personal feelings, while others will live up to their duty to make decisions

based only on the facts.

D. Because scientists are only human, their decisions are, to some extent,

influenced by inner feelings, by the personal way a scientist views a theory,

or by personal gains such as fame, job security or money.

E. Scientists’ decisions are based less upon the facts and more upon inner

feelings, upon the personal way a scientist views a theory, or upon personal

gains such as fame, job security or money.

F. I don’t understand.

G. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

H. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

G. because they have been influenced by companies or governments.

H. I don’t understand.

I. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

J. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

Scientists who propose a theory must convince other scientists:

A. by showing them conclusive evidence that proves the theory true.

B. because a theory is useful to science only when most scientists believe the

theory.

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN346

13. (VOSTS ITEM #80) With the same background knowledge, two scien-

tists can develop the same theory independently of each other. The scientist’s

individuality does NOT influence the content of a theory.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to F, and then choose one.)

A. because this content is based on facts and the scientific method, which are

not influenced by the individual.

B. because this content is based on facts. Facts are not influenced by the

individual. However, the way a scientist conducts an experiment will be

influenced by his or her individuality.

C. because this content is based on facts. The way a scientist interprets the

facts will, however, be influenced by his or her individuality.

A scientist’s individuality WILL influence the content of a theory.

D. because different scientists conduct research differently (for example, probe

deeper or ask slightly different questions). Therefore they will obtain dif-

ferent results. These results then influence the content of a theory.

E. because different scientists will think differently and will have slightly dif-

ferent ideas or viewpoints.

F. because a theory’s content may be influenced by what scientist wants to

believe. Bias has an influence.

C. because when a number of scientists discuss a theory and its new ideas,

scientists will likely revise or update the theory. In short, by reaching a

consensus, scientists make the theory more accurate.

Scientists who propose a theory do not have to convince other scientists:

D. because the supporting evidence speaks for itself.

E. because individual scientists will decide for themselves whether to use a

theory or not.

F. because an individual scientist can apply a theory as long as the theory

explains results and is useful, no matter what other scientists believe.

G. I don’t understand.

H. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

I. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint.

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 347

14. (VOSTS ITEM #84) BACKGROUND: A team of scientists worked

together ‘‘in private’’ in their lab for 3 years and developed a new theory.

The team will present their theory to a group of scientists at a science con-

ference and the team will write a scientific journal article explaining their

theory (that is, the team will work ‘‘in public’’ with other scientists). The fol-

lowing statement compares private and public science.

STATEMENT: When scientists do their private science (for example,

when they work in a lab), their thinking is open-minded, logical, unbiased

and objective; just as it is when they do their public science (for example,

when they write an article for presentation).Your position, basically: (Please read from A to J, and then choose one.)

A. Private science is basically the same as public science. A scientist’s thinking

is most often open-minded, logical, unbiased and objective, in private as

well as in public.

B. It depends on the individual scientist. Some scientists act differently in their

private work than in their public work, while other scientists act the same.

C. In their private work, scientists are NOT necessarily open-minded, logical,

etc. because they become very involved in their work and become sure

about their ideas. Thus, private science can be different from public science.

D. In their public work, scientists are NOT necessarily open-minded, logical,

etc. because by the time scientists go public their minds are pretty well made

up, or else they need to persuade other scientists. Thus, private science can

be different from public science.

E. The process of publicly discussing a presentation with other scientists

makes a scientist’s conclusions more objective, etc., since biases will be

modified by the views of other scientists. Thus, private science is different

from public science.

F. Natural biases or jealousies of scientists are brought out more when they

are in public than in private. Thus, private science is different from public

science.

G. In public science there is much more pressure to follow ‘‘the rules’’ of public

science (to appear to be open-minded, logical, unbiased and objective).

H. I don’t understand.

I. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

J. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN348

15. (VOSTS #93) Scientific observations made by competent scientists will

usually be different if the scientists believe different theories.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to H, and then choose one.)

16. (VOSTS #95) When scientists classify something (for example, a plant

according to its species, an element according to the periodic table, energy

according to its source, or a star according to its size), scientists are classify-

ing nature according to the way nature really is; any other way would simply

be wrong.

Your position, basically: (Please read from A to I, and the choose one.)

A. Yes, because scientists will experiment in different ways and will notice

different things.

B. Yes, because scientists will think differently and this will alter their obser-

vations.

C. Scientific observations will not differ very much even though scientists be-

lieve different theories. If the scientists are indeed competent their obser-

vations will be similar.

D. No, because observations are as exact as possible. This is how science has

been able to advance.

E. No, observations are exactly what we see and nothing more; they are the

facts.

F. I don’t understand.

G. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

H. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

A. Classifications match the way nature really is, since scientists have proven

them over many years of work.

B. Classifications match the way nature really is, since scientists use ob-

servable characteristics when they classify.

C. Scientists classify nature in the most simple and logical way, but their way

isn’t necessarily the only way.

D. There are many ways to classify nature, but agreeing on one universal

system allows scientists to avoid confusion in their work.

E. There could be other correct ways to classify nature, because science is

liable to change and new discoveries may lead to different classifications.

F. Nobody knows thewaynature really is. Scientists classify nature according to

their perceptions or theories. Science is never exact, and nature is so diverse.

Thus, scientists could correctly use more than one classification scheme.

G. I don’t understand.

H. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

I. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 349

17. (VOSTS ITEM #96) Even when scientific investigations are done cor-

rectly, the knowledge that scientists discover from those investigations may

change in the future.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to G, and then choose one.)

18. (VOSTS ITEM #97) Scientific ideas develop from hypotheses to theo-ries, and finally, if they are good enough, to being scientific laws.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to H, and then choose one.)

Hypotheses can lead to theories which can lead to laws:

A. because an hypothesis is tested by experiments. If it proves correct, it be-

comes a theory. After a theory has been proven true many times by different

people and has been around for a long time, it becomes a law.

B. because an hypothesis is tested by experiments. If there is supporting evi-

dence, it’s a theory. After a theory has been tested many times and seems to

be essentially correct, it’s good enough to become a law.

C. because it is a logical way for scientific ideas to develop.

D. Theories can’t become laws because they both are different types of ideas.

Theories are based on scientific ideas which are less than 100% certain, and

so theories can’t be proven true. Laws, however, are based on facts only

and are 100% sure.

E. Theories can’t become laws because they both are different types of ideas.

Laws describe things in general. Theories explain these laws. However, with

supporting evidence, hypotheses may become theories (explanations) or

laws (descriptions).

Scientific knowledge changes:

A. because new scientists disprove the theories or discoveries of old scientists.

Scientists do this by using new techniques or improved instruments, by

finding new factors overlooked before, or by detecting errors in the original

‘‘correct’’ investigation.

B. because the old knowledge is reinterpreted in light of new discoveries.

Scientific facts can change.

C. Scientific knowledge APPEARS to change because the interpretation or the

application of the old facts can change. Correctly done experiments yield

unchangeable facts.

D. Scientific knowledge APPEARS to change because new knowledge is added

on to old knowledge; the old knowledge doesn’t change.

E. I don’t understand.

F. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

G. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN350

19. (VOSTS ITEM #98) When developing new theories or laws, scientists

need to make certain assumptions about nature (for example, matter is

made up of atoms). These assumptions must be true in order for science to

progress properly.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to I, and then choose one.)

20. (VOSTS ITEM #100) Good scientific theories explain observations

well. But good theories are also simple rather than complex.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to I, and then choose one.)

F. I don’t understand.

G. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

H. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

Assumptions MUST be true in order for science to progress:

A. because correct assumptions are needed for correct theories and laws.

Otherwise scientists would waste a lot of time and effort using wrong

theories and laws.

B. otherwise society would have serious problems, such as inadequate tech-

nology and dangerous chemicals.

C. because scientists do research to prove their assumptions true before going

on with their work.

D. It depends. Sometimes science needs true assumptions in order to progress.

But sometimes history has shown that great discoveries have been made by

disproving a theory and learning from its false assumptions.

E. It doesn’t matter. Scientists have to make assumptions, true or not, in order

to get started on a project. History has shown that great discoveries have

been made by disproving a theory and learning from its false assumptions.

F. Scientists do not make assumptions. They research an idea to find out if the

idea is true. They don’t assume it is true.

G. I don’t understand.

H. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

I. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

A. Good theories are simple. The best language to use in science is simple,

short, direct language.

B. It depends on how deeply you want to get into the explanation. A good

theory can explain something either in a simple way or in a complex way.

C. It depends on the theory. Some good theories are simple, some are com-

plex.

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 351

21. (VOSTS ITEM #103) Scientific discoveries occur as a result of a ser-

ies of investigations, each one building on an earlier one, and each one lead-

ing logically to the next one, until the discovery is made.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to J, and then choose one.)

D. Good theories can be complex, but they must be able to be translated into

simple language if they are going to be used.

E. Theories are usually complex. Some things cannot be simplified if a lot of

details are involved.

F. Most good theories are complex. If the world was simpler, theories could be

simpler.

G. I don’t understand.

H. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

I. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

A. because experiments (for example, the experiments that led to the

model of the atom, or discoveries about cancer) are like laying bricks

onto a wall.

B. because research begins by checking the results of an earlier experi-

ment to see if it is true. A new experiment will be checked by the

people who come afterwards.

C. Usually scientific discoveries result from a logical series of investi-

gations. But science is not completely logical. There is an element of

trial and error, hit and miss, in the process.

D. Some scientific discoveries are accidental, or they are the unpredicted

product of the actual intention of the scientist. However, more dis-

coveries result from a series of investigations building logically one

upon the other.

E. Most scientific discoveries are accidental, or they are the unpredicted

product of the actual intention of the scientist. Some discoveries

result from a series of investigations building logically one upon the

other.

Scientific discoveries do not occur as a result of a logical series of investigations:

F. because discoveries often result from the piecing together of previ-

ously unrelated bits of information.

G. because discoveries occur as a result of a wide variety of studies

which originally had nothing to do with each other, but which turned

out to relate to each other in unpredictable ways.

H. I don’t understand.

I. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

J. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN352

22. (VOSTS ITEM #106) Even when making predictions based on accu-

rate knowledge, scientists and engineers can tell us only what probably might

happen. They cannot tell what will happen for certain.Your position, basically: (Please read from A to H, and then choose one.)

23. (VOSTS ITEM #109) Science rests on the assumption that the natural

world can not be altered by a supernatural being (for example, a deity).Your position, basically: (Please read from A to H, and then choose one.)

Predictions are NEVER certain:

A. because there is always room for error and unforeseen events which will

affect a result. No one can predict the future for certain.

B. because accurate knowledge changes as new discoveries are made, and

therefore predictions will always change.

C. because a prediction is not a statement of a fact. It is an educated guess.

D. because scientists never have all the facts. Some data are always missing.

E. It depends. Predictions are certain, only as long as there is accurate

knowledge and enough information.

F. I don’t understand.

G. I don’t know enough about this subject to make a choice.

H. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

Scientists assume that a supernatural being will NOT alter the natural world:

A. because the supernatural is beyond scientific proof. Other views, outside the

realm of science, may assume that a supernatural being can alter the nat-

ural world.

B. because if a supernatural being did exist, scientific facts could change in the

wink of an eye. BUT scientists repeatedly get consistent results.

C. It depends. What scientists assume about a supernatural being is up to the

individual scientist.

D. Anything is possible. Science does not know everything about nature.

Therefore, science must be open-minded to the possibility that a super-

natural being could alter the natural world.

E. Science can investigate the supernatural and can possibly explain it.

Therefore, science can assume the existence of supernatural beings.

F. I don’t understand.

G. I don’t know enough about this topic to make a choice.

H. None of these choices fits my basic viewpoint. My view is:

FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS’ CONFLICT 353

Notes

1 Copies of the VOSTS inventory (Aikenhead & Ryan, 1992) of 114 items are available on a cost-

recovery basis by writing to: VOSTS, Department of Curriculum Studies, College of Education, Uni-

versity of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 0W), Canada.2 Another assessment specifically focused upon the Nature of Science. This was accomplished by direct-

ing students to write a letter to a high school student (fictitious) explaining the NOS. The example

follows:

What is Science?

Write a letter as if you were writing to a high school student of your former high school. Describe the

nature of science. What is science? What does science do?

Address these topics within your letter: theory, law, fact, procedure, knowledge as well as aspects of

science that you deem important to illustrate.

There should be no reference citations in this assignment since you are stating your present knowledge

about what you know about science thus far.

For the post-assessment, students were required to complete a five to seven page paper discussing the

particular aspects of the Nature of Science that were targeted in the initial letter to the high school

student. Students were encouraged to add information regarding other learning about the Nature of

Science beyond the targeted items provided by the instructor.3 Autobiography of Evolution (Pre-assessment Example)Write a one to two page autobiography about

your experience regarding evolution. You will not be scored to the ‘accuracy’ of your discussion, but

rather for clarity and completeness.

Consider the following items:

• When did you first hear about evolution?

• Did different sources give you different information about evolution?

• If/when were you first formally taught about evolution?

• What were your thoughts and feelings about evolution? Did you feel apprehensive or did you ac-

cept it with no apprehension?

• What about your friends or other people in your life? What viewpoints did you notice (if any)

from friends/others?

• Did the theory of evolution by natural selection conflict with personal beliefs at the time?

• Do you view the theory differently now than when you first learned/hear about it?

• Explain any additional ‘autobiographical’ aspects of evolution (In the post-assessment, students

were directed to many of the same aspects but were asked to specifically discuss their thoughts,

feelings and questions that arose during the course of our FYS.)

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Education’, Electronic Journal of Science Education 3, 1�3. http://www.unr.edu/home-

page/crowther/ejse/staver.html.Stinner, A., McMillan, B., Metz, D., Jilek, J. & Klassen, S.: 2003, �The Renewal of Case

Studies in Science Education�, Science & Education 12, 617�643.Strike, K.A. & Posner, G.J.: 1992, A Revisionist Theory of Conceptual Change, in R. Duschel

and R. Hamilton (eds.Philosophy of Science, Cognitive Psychology, and Educational Theoryand Practice, Albany, New York, pp. 147�176.

LISA MICHELLE MARTIN-HANSEN356

WGBH: 2001, Evolution: A Journey Into Where We’re From and Where We’re Going, WGBHEducational Foundation and Clear Blue Sky Productions, Inc, Boston, Massachusetts.

The National Center for Science Education. Retrieved online September 2005 http://

www.natcenscied.org.Torres, K.: 2005, January 18, ‘Cobb School Board to Appeal Evolution Ruling’. The Atlanta

Journal-Constitution, online resource.

Zimmer, C.: 2001, Evolution, Harper Collins, New York, NY.

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