Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 579–591 | Cite as

The Influence of Education Major: How Diverse Preservice Teachers View Pseudoscience Topics

  • Susan Carol Losh
  • Brandon Nzekwe


Pseudoscience beliefs (e.g., astrology, ghosts or UFOs) are rife in American society. Most research examines creation/evolution among liberal arts majors, general public adults, or, infrequently, middle or high school science teachers. Thus, research truncates the range of ersatz science thinking and the samples it studies. We examined diverse beliefs, e.g., extraterrestrials, magic, Biblical creation, and evolution, among 540 female and 123 male future teachers, including 325 elementary education majors. We study how these cognitions related to education major and, because popular media often present pseudoscience “information”, student media use. Future elementary educators most often rejected evolution and endorsed “creationism” or Intelligent Design. Education majors held similar beliefs about astrology, UFO landings, or magic. Compared with other education students, elementary education majors watched less news or science television and read fewer popular science magazines. However, religious and media variables explained more variation in creation/evolution beliefs than education major. We discuss implications of our findings for elementary school science education and how teacher educators may be able to affect pseudoscience beliefs among their elementary education students.


Pseudoscience beliefs Pseudoscience attitudes Preservice teachers Elementary school science educators 



This research was funded in part through an American Educational Research Association grant REC-0310268, National Science Foundation grant 0532943 and the National Science Foundation Division of Materials Research through DMR-0654118. Thanks also to Haim Eshach, Raymond Eve, Ken Feder, Ryan Wilke, Alice Robbin, Martin Bauer, Bob Bell, Jaqui Falkenheim, and Nick Allum for insightful suggestions. The responsibility for errors, of course, rests with us.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Psychology and Learning SystemsFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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