I reported recently on the study of Oklahoma science teachers, which found that a sizable percentage of them don’t understand evolution well enough to teach it accurately and effectively. Here’s the result: Oklahoma students actually know less about evolution after taking a biology class than they were before.
A study published in the latest edition of Evolution: Education and Outreach demonstrated “the average student…completed the Biology I course with increased confidence in their biological evolution knowledge yet with a greater number of biological evolution misconceptions and, therefore, less competency in the subject.”
The study, conducted by Tony Yates and Edmund Marek, tested biology teachers and students in 32 Oklahoma public high schools via a survey the pair called “the Biological Evolution Literacy Survey.” The survey was administered to the teachers first, to get a benchmark of their grasp of evolutionary theory. The survey was then administered twice to the students — once before they took the required Biology I course, and once after they had completed it.
Yates and Marek found that prior to instruction, students possessed 4,812 misconceptions about evolutionary theory; after they completed the Biology I course, they possessed 5,072. Of the 475 students surveyed, only 216 decreased the number of misconceptions they believed, as opposed to 259 who had more of them when they finished the course than before they took it.
“There is little doubt,” they argued, “that teachers may serve as sources of biological evolution-related misconceptions or, at the very least, propagators of existing misconceptions.”
A perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect as the kids think they understand it when they don’t. Creationism, at least partly explained.