Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 843–858 | Cite as

K-8 Educators Perceptions and Preparedness for Teaching Evolution Topics

  • Louis S. Nadelson
  • Sandra Nadelson


Many science education standards mandate teaching evolution concepts in the K-8 curriculum. Yet, not all K-8 certified educators embrace the notion of teaching evolution content Factors influencing K-8 teacher engagement with evolution curriculum include evolution familiarity and personal beliefs conflicts. With this in mind, we investigated the perceptions and beliefs about evolution of educators who had completed a science and mathematics education master’s degree. Our quantitative and qualitative data indicate some participants did not feel prepared or responsible for teaching evolution content. The discussion of our study results and implications was done in the context of achieving science learning standards.


Professional Development Science Education Science Curriculum Teacher Preparation Inservice Teacher 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Abell, S., & Roth, M. (1992). Constraints to teaching elementary science: A case study of a science enthusiast student teacher. Science Education, 76, 581–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alters, B. J., & Nelson, C. E. (2002). Perspective: Teaching evolution in higher education. Evolution, 56, 1891–1901.Google Scholar
  3. American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1993). Benchmarks for science literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1997). Resources for science literacy: Professional development. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Barnett, J., & Hodson, D. (2001). Pedagogical content knowledge: Toward a fuller understanding of what good science teachers know. Science Education, 85, 426–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bloom, J. W. (1989). Preservice elementary teachers’ conceptions of science: Science, theories and evolution. International Journal of Science Education, 11(4), 401–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bohning, G., & Hale, L. (1998). Images of self-confidence and the change-of-career prospective elementary science teacher. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 10(1), 39–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bryan, L. A., & Abell, S. K. (1999). The development of professional knowledge in learning to teach elementary science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36(2), 121–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Center on Educational Policy. (2008). Instructional time in elementary schools a closer look at changes for specific subjects. Retrieved November 26, 2008 from = 1&DocumentID=234.
  10. Chuang, H. C. (2003). Teaching evolution: Attitudes and strategies of educators in Utah. American Biology Teacher, 65, 669–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Creswell, J. (2009). Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  12. Dagher, Z. R., & Boujaoude, S. (2005). Students’ perceptions of the nature of evolutionary theory. Science Education, 89(3), 378–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Darling-Hammond, L., & Bransford, J. (Eds.). (2005). Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  14. Deemer, S. (2004). Classroom goal orientation in high school classrooms: Revealing links between teacher beliefs and classroom environments. Educational Research, 46(1), 73–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dobzhansky, T. (1973). Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. American Biology Teacher, 35, 125–129.Google Scholar
  16. Downing, J., & Filer, J. (1999). Science process skills and attitudes of preservice elementary teachers. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 11(2), 57–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eiriksson, S. (1997). Preservice teachers’ perceived constraints of teaching science in the elementary classroom. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 9(2), 18–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Enders, C. K. (2001). A primer on maximum likelihood algorithms available for use with missing data. Structural Equation Modeling, 8, 128–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fulp, S. L. (2002). The status of elementary school science teaching. Retrieve on January 16, 2008 from:
  20. Gould, S. J. (2002). The structure of evolutionary theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hewson, P. W. (2007). Teacher professional development in science. In S. K. Abell & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 1179–1203). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  22. Hill, L. (2004). Changing minds: Developmental education for conceptual change. Journal of Adult Development, 11(1), 29–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hodson, D. (1992). In search of a meaningful relationship: An exploration of some issues relating to integration in science and science education. International Journal of Science Education, 14(5), 541–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hoy, A., Davis, H., & Pape, S. J. (2006). Teacher knowledge and beliefs. In P. A. Alexander & P. H. Winne (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (2nd ed., pp. 715–737). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  25. Jarvis, T., Pell, A., & McKeon, F. (2003). Changes in primary teachers’ science knowledge and understanding during a two year in-service programme. Research in Science & Technology Education, 21(1), 17–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jesky-Smith, R. (2002). Me, teach science? Science and Children, 39(6), 26–30.Google Scholar
  27. Jones, M. J., & Carter, G. (2007). Science teacher attitudes and beliefs. In S. K. Abell & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 1067–1104). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  28. Llinares, S., & Krainer, K. (2006). Mathematics (student) teachers and teacher educators as learners. In A. Gutierrez & P. Boero (Eds.), Handbook of research on the psychology of mathematics education. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers B.V.Google Scholar
  29. Loucks-Horsley, S. (1998). The role of teaching and learning in systemic reform: A focus on professional development. Science Educator, 7, 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Matthews, D. (2001). Effect of a curriculum containing creation stories on attitudes about evolution. American Biology Teacher, 63(6), 404–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McComas, W. F. (2006). Investigating evolutionary biology in the laboratory. Dubuque, WI: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  32. Miller, K. R. (1999). Finding Darwin’s God: A scientist’s search for common ground between God and evolution. New York: Cliff Street Books, HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  33. Moore, R. (2001). Teaching evolution: Do state standards matter? Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 21(1–2), 19–21.Google Scholar
  34. Nadelson, L. S. (2009). Preservice teacher understanding and vision of how to teach biological evolution. Evolution education and Outreach, 2(3), 490–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nadelson, L. S., Callahan, J., Pyke, P., Hay, A., & Schrader, C. (2009). A systemic solution: Elementary-teacher preparation in stem expertise and engineering awareness. Austin, TX: Proceedings of the American society for engineering education annual conference & exhibition.Google Scholar
  36. National Academy of Sciences. (1998). Teaching about evolution and the nature of science. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  37. National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  38. National Research Council. (2007). Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science in grades K-8. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  39. National Science Teachers Association. (1997). An NSTA position statement on the teaching of evolution. Journal of College Science Teaching, 27(1), 7–8.Google Scholar
  40. National Science Teachers Association. (2002). An NSTA position statement: Elementary school science. Arlington, VA: NSTA.Google Scholar
  41. National Science Teachers Association (2003). Standards for science teacher preparation. Retrieved on January 16, 2008 from
  42. National Science Teachers Association. (2006). An NSTA position statement: Professional development in science education. Arlington, VA: NSTA.Google Scholar
  43. Pajares, M. F. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62(3), 307–332.Google Scholar
  44. Pintó, R., Couso, D., & Gutierrez, R. (2005). Using research on teachers’ transformations of innovations to inform teacher education. The case of energy degradation. Science Education, 89(1), 38–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Plourde, L. (2002). Elementary science education: The influence of student teaching—Where it all begins. Education, 123(2), 253–259.Google Scholar
  46. Rutledge, M. L., & Mitchell, M. A. (2002). High school biology teachers’ knowledge structure, acceptance and teaching of evolution. The American Biology Teacher, 64(1), 21–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rutledge, M. L., & Warden, M. A. (1999). The development and validation of the measure of acceptance of the theory of evolution instrument. School Science and Mathematics, 99(1), 13–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schafer, J. L., & Olsen, M. K. (1998). Multiple imputation for multivariate missing-data problems: A data analyst’s perspective. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 33, 545–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Shulman, L. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1–22.Google Scholar
  50. Skoog, G., & Bilica, K. (2002). The emphasis given to evolution in state science standards: A lever for change in evolution education? Science Education, 86, 445–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wenner, G. (1993). Relationship between science knowledge levels and beliefs toward science instruction held by preservice elementary teachers. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 2, 461–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Yip, D. Y. (2001). Promoting the development of a conceptual change model of science instruction in prospective secondary biology teachers. International Journal of Science Education, 23(7), 755–770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Boise State UniversityBoiseUSA

Personalised recommendations