Dunning-Krueger strikes again! A survey of Oklahoma students showed that their high school biology course caused a net reduction in their knowledge of evolution.
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.
The scary part is that the students were more confident of their knowledge, despite being even more muddled than when they started.
How could this be? One contributor:
This may be because “about one-fourth of Oklahoma public school life-science teachers place moderate or strong emphasis on creationism.” In fact, two students scored higher initially on the Biological Evolution Literacy Survey than their respective teachers.
We clearly need to do a better job teaching the teachers.