Teaching Science in Light of World View: The Effect of Contextualized Instruction On the Scientific Compatibility of Religious College Students' World Views
Authors of recent science reform documents promote the goal of scientific literacy for all Americans (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1989, 1993). Some students, however, feel apprehensive about learning science due to perceptions that science is antagonistic to their world views (Alters, 2005; Esbenshade, 1993). This study investigated the effect of an introductory science course taught in the context of a Christian, theistic world view on the scientific compatibility of religious college students' world views. For the purposes of this study, students' understanding of the nature of science, affective attitudes toward science, and beliefs regarding creation were used as indicators of the scientific compatibility of their world views. One hundred and seventy-one students enrolled in a core curriculum, introductory science course at a Christian university participated in this study by completing pre-instruction and post- instruction survey packets that included demographic information, the Student Understanding of Science and Scientific Inquiry questionnaire (Liang et al., 2006), the Affective Attitude toward Science Scale (Francis & Greer, 1999), and the Origins Survey (Tenneson & Badger, personal communication, June, 2008). Two-tailed paired samples t tests were used to test for significant mean differences in the indicator variables at a .05 level before and after instruction. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to determine if relationships were present among the indicator variables at a .05 level before and after instruction. Students' self-identified positions regarding creation were analyzed using a chi-square contingency table. Results indicated that there were statistically significant changes in all indicator variables after instruction of the contextualized course. The direction of these changes and shifts in students' self-identified positions regarding creation supported the conclusion that students developed a more scentifically compatible world view after contextualized instruction based on the indicators used in this study. Weak positive correlations were found between nature of science understanding and young earth creation before and after instruction; weak negative correlations were found between nature of science understanding and old earth creation and evolutionary creation before, but not after, instruction. Conclusions, implications for practice, and recommendations for future research are included.