Attitudes about Science


Science Attitudes

The current study explores variables related to public acceptance of evolution in the United States by state. Data on acceptance of evolution, religiosity, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degree attainment, educational attainment, high school dropout rate, average teacher salary, and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita were analyzed for the 50 states. Employing secondary data analysis, bivariate correlations were used to investigate the relationship between US acceptance of evolution and each variable. As predicted, there was a strong negative correlation between acceptance of evolution and religiosity and a strong positive relationship between acceptance and science degrees awarded, bachelor degree attainment, advanced degree attainment, average teacher salary, and GDP per capita. Several implications for evolution education and acceptance are discussed.

The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of conceptual change on emotional and attitudinal change
while learning about genetically modified Foods (GMFs). Participants were 322 college students at a large southwestern university; half read a refutation text designed to shift conceptual knowledge, attitudes, and emotions, while the other half served as a control. The results suggest that the refutation text effectively facilitated change in conceptual knowledge,emotions, and attitudes, as compared to the control.The hypothesized relationship among the variables was explored using structural equation modeling. The analysis showed that when participants experienced conceptual change, their emotions became more positive and less negative, which predicted a subsequent shift toward more positive attitudes. The results suggest that change in emotions mediates the relationship between conceptual and attitudinal change. Several theoretical and practical implications are discussed including the impact that these findings may have on science education.

The controversy of biological evolution due to conflicts with personal beliefs and worldviews is a phenomenon that spans many cultures. Acceptance of evolution is essential for global advancement in science, technology, and agriculture. Previous research has tended to focus on the factors that can influence acceptance of evolution by culture or country. Our research explored the relationship on an international scale using secondary data analysis to research evolution acceptance for 35 countries. Our results indicate significant relationships between public acceptance of evolution and religiosity, school-life expectancy, science literacy, and gross domestic product per capita. Implications and future directions for research are addressed.

We propose a theoretical model linking students' epistemic beliefs, epistemic emotions, learning strategies, and learning outcomes. The model was tested across two studies with 439 post-secondary students from Canada, the United States, and Germany for Study 1, and 56 students from Canada for Study 2. For Study 1, students self-reported their epistemic beliefs about climate change, read four conflicting documents about the causes and consequences of climate change, self-reported their epistemic emotions and learning strategies used to learn the content, and were given an inference verification test to measure learning. Study 2 used the same procedure but added a think aloud protocol to capture self-regulatory processes and emotions as they occurred. Path analyses revealed that epistemic beliefs served as important antecedents to the epistemic emotions students experienced during learning. Students who believed that the justification of knowledge about climate change requires critical evaluation of multiple sources experienced higher levels of enjoyment and curiosity, and lower levels of boredom when confronted with conflicting infor- mation. A belief in the complexity of this knowledge was related to lower levels of confusion, anxiety, and boredom. A belief in the uncertainty of this knowledge predicted lower levels of anxiety and frustration, and a belief in the active construction of knowledge predicted lower levels of confusion. Epistemic emotions predicted the types of learning strategies students used to learn the content and mediated relations be- tween epistemic beliefs and learning strategies. Learning strategies predicted learning outcomes and mediated relations between epistemic emotions and learning outcomes. Implications for research on epistemic beliefs, epistemic emotions, and students' self-regulated learning are discussed.