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1 A CARIBBEAN STORY: THE ROLE OF SCIENCE STANDARDS AND BIOLOGY TEACHERS' ACCEPTANCE AND UNDERST ANDING IN SHAPING EVOLUTION INSTRUCTION IN BELIZE By ELVIS ENRIQUE NUNEZ A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORID A IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009
2 2009 Elvis Enrique Nunez
3 To my mom; my loving par tner; and all who guided my learning and provided unconditional support
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank the chair of my committee, Dr Bruce MacFadden as well as Dr. Rose Pringle, Dr. Betty Dunckel and Dr. Colette St Mary for their uncon ditional support and mentoring. I thank the res earch participants for supporting this project and providing honest responses. I also thank my parents, my sisters, and my partner for their constant encouragem ent during this study. I would like to ex tend my sincerest gratitude to everyone that has contributed in one-way or another to the co mpletion of this thesis. Especial thanks go to Kevin Show alter for assisting with the data collection and revision of the thesis, Choi Bongsam for his a ssistance with the Rasch Model, Ms. Olga Manzanero for assessing the content and face validity of the in strument, Mr. Jude Lizama for his expertise on t he CSEC examinations and Me lania Lopez for facilitating the delivery of the thesis. My resear ch was primarily funded by the Dickinson Fellowship awarded by the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Alumni Fellowship awarded by the University of Florida.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDG MENTS .................................................................................................. 4 LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................ 7 LIST OF FIGURE S .......................................................................................................... 8 LIST OF ABBR EVIATIONS ............................................................................................. 9 ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................... 10 CHA PTER 1 GENERAL INTR ODUCTION .................................................................................. 12 Importance of Evolut ion .......................................................................................... 12 Literature Review .................................................................................................... 15 Limitations to Evol ution Inst ructio n ................................................................... 16 Acceptance and Underst anding of Ev olution .................................................... 18 Science Standards and Standardized Tests ..................................................... 20 Misconcept ions ................................................................................................. 21 Evolution in the Sc ience Curri culum ................................................................. 22 Rationale fo r Study ................................................................................................. 24 Why High School Teachers? ............................................................................ 24 Setting the Stage for New Res earch ................................................................ 25 Contextual Backg round on Study ........................................................................... 26 Belize-a link between Centra l America and the Caribbean ............................... 26 Education System in Belize .............................................................................. 27 Biology Educat ion Prog ram .............................................................................. 29 Research Questions and Hypot heses..................................................................... 30 Research Q uestions ......................................................................................... 30 Hypothes es ...................................................................................................... 31 2 RESEARCH METHODS ......................................................................................... 34 Data Coll ection ....................................................................................................... 34 The Sample and Surv ey Prot ocol ..................................................................... 36 Delimita tions ..................................................................................................... 37 Limitati ons ........................................................................................................ 37 Data Anal ysis .......................................................................................................... 38 Analysis of MATE Likert Scal e ......................................................................... 38 Rasch Analysis of MA TE Likert scale ............................................................... 39 Analysis of Knowled ge/Understandi ng Scale ................................................... 40 Document A nalysis ........................................................................................... 40
6 3 RESULTS AND DI SCUSSION ............................................................................... 42 Final Sample Size ................................................................................................... 42 Biology Teachers' Acceptance of the Theory of Evolut ion ...................................... 43 Classical Analysis of MATE Instrument ............................................................ 43 Rasch Analysis of MA TE Instrument ................................................................ 45 Biology Teachers' Understanding of the Theory of Evolution ................................. 47 Relationship between Accept ance and Other factors ............................................. 49 Outdated Standards and Standardized Tests ......................................................... 50 Voices of Teachers ................................................................................................. 51 4 SUMMARY AND CO NCLUSIONS .......................................................................... 68 5 IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMEND ATIONS ........................................................ 73 APPENDIX A DEFINITION OF TERMS ........................................................................................ 76 B UF-IRB SUBM ISSION ............................................................................................ 78 C PRINCIPAL CON SENT LE TTER ............................................................................ 81 D BIOLOGY TEACHER CONSENT LETTER ............................................................ 82 E SURVEY INSTRUMENT ......................................................................................... 83 LIST OF RE FERENCES ............................................................................................... 89 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................................................................................ 97
7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1 Demographic data incl uding distribution by sex, age, school loc ation, ethnicity/race, academic preparation and teaching experience for the fiftynine teachers that parti cipated in t he study ....................................................... 55 3-2 The mean score and standard deviation per question of the MATE responses for the entire group of respondents, t he Acceptance Group and the Rejection Group. ................................................................................................................ 56 3-3 Logit and INFIT MNSQ values for it ems and teachers obtained from the Rasch Model. ...................................................................................................... 57 3-4 Logit scores for teacher abilities according to location, sex, age, ethnicity, and area of spec ializati on. .................................................................................. 58 3-5 The ranks of the multiple-choice questions testing evolutionary knowledge for the entire group, the Acceptance Group, and the Reje ction Group. ................... 59 3-6 Teacher responses to the multiple-c hoice items pertaining to the knowledge of evolutiona ry theory. ........................................................................................ 60 3-7 Description of the five sections that comprise the 2004 CXC biology syllabus. Numbers in brackets indicate the suggested number of weeks needed to teach each section. ............................................................................................. 61 3-8 Test questions pertaining to the theor y of evolution included in CSEC biology examinations for the years 2000-2007. .............................................................. 62
8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1-1 Map of Belize depicting its location in Central America and the Caribbean. ....... 32 1-2 Demographics of the 43 high schools Belize that teach 11th and 12th grade Biology ............................................................................................................... 33 3-1 Mean acceptance scores for the Accept ance, Rejection and Entire group of respondents based on the sum of score s on the MATE instrument. .................. 63 3-2 Person/Item Case Map for the Ra sch Analysis of MATE Scores. ...................... 64 3-3 Teacher knowledge on evolution bas ed on scores on the 21-multiple choice items in Section III of the survey in strum ent. ...................................................... 65 3-4 A comparison of biology teachers' scores Knowledge Scores plotted against MATE/Acceptanc e Scores. ................................................................................. 65 3-5 A comparison of biology teachers' Acceptance and Knowledge Scores for Public and Private high sc hools. ......................................................................... 66 3-6 A comparison of biology teacher s' Acceptance and Knowledge Scores plotted against the % of CSEC Biology Syllabus used by t eachers. ................... 66 3-7 Mean Acceptance/MATE Score and K nowledge Score for teachers who feel prepared to teach evolution (N=23) and teachers who do not feel prepared (N=32) ............................................................................................................... 67
9 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS CXC refers to the Caribbea n Examinations Council CSEC refers to the Caribbean Se condary Examination Certificate MATE refers to the Measure of A cceptance of the Theory of Evolution
10 Abstract of Thesis Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulf illment of the Requirements for t he Degree of Master of Science A CARIBBEAN STORY: THE ROLE OF SCIENCE STANDARDS AND BIOLOGY TEACHERS' ACCEPTANCE AND UNDERST ANDING IN SHAPING EVOLUTION INSTRUCTION IN BELIZE By Elvis Enrique Nunez December 2009 Chair: Bruce MacFadden Major: Zoology Belize, a sparsely populated, Englishspeaking nation with a high school system modeled after strict Caribbean standards presents a unique opportunity to investigate the current state of evolution instruction in the region. Worldwide studies have shown that teachers' personal views and understandings can shape their instructional approaches and influence the content taught in science classrooms regardless of predisposing science standards. Th is study investigates the current level of acceptance and understanding of evolution as given by 97% of all high school biology teachers in the country using a well-supported survey instrument and a collection of local and regional science documents. Overall, biology teacher s had a poor understanding of evolution with teachers sco ring between 9.5% and 80.9% ( X = 47.9%) on the knowledge test. The disconcerting resu lts span the entire teacher population irrespective of differences in sex, academic qualification and school location. This study also looked at some of the factors associat ed with teachers' acceptance of evolutionary theory. A positive correlation was found between teacher acceptance and understanding of evolution. In addition, both acceptance and understanding were
11 positively correlated with increasing years of teaching experience in biology. The analysis of course outlines and regional examinations suggests that evolution plays a minimal role in science standards and standar dized tests in the Caribbean. Although non-significant, teacher acceptance and und erstanding of evolution increased with increasing use of the CSEC biology standards. The overall results suggest that although poor science standards and inad equate levels of acceptance and understanding afflict Belize, t here is room for improvement since a majority of the teacher population is conflicted about evolutionary concept s and 57% self-proclaim to be unprepared to teach evolution.
12 CHAPTER 1 GENERAL INTRODUCTION !"#$%&'()*+$,+-.$/0&1$(+ Evolution is the major unifying theory in the biological sciences (American Association for the Advancement of Sci ence, 2002; National Academy of Science 1998,1999; National Association of Biology T eachers, 2000; National Science Teachers Association, 1997). As one of t he most significant scientific c ontributions of the last two centuries (Bybee, 2002), evolution has help ed to explain fundamental features of the natural world, such as: "similarities among living things, diversity of life and various features of the physical worl d we inhabit" (National Academy of Sciences 1998, p.3). As the most contemporary problem-solving tool available to biologists (Scharmann, 2005), the theory of evolution has the potential to ex plain both the unity and diversity of life (Kampourakis & Zogza, 2008). In addition to explaining the natural world, evolution contributes to a more holistic understandi ng of the nature of science and the dynamic state of scientific knowled ge (Anderson, 2007; National Academy of Sciences, 1998). Furthermore, this well supported theory provides the major conceptual and organizational idea behind diverse component s in the life sciences (Bybee, 2002). The famous geneticist Dobzhansky said it eloquently when he stated that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" (p. 125) a claim widely accepted by most scientists today (National Academy Sciences 2008a). Despite being a controversia l topic, the theory of evol ution has survived a century and a half of scrutiny, ridicule and experimentation due to the incontrovertible evidence supporting it in nearly all aspects of life on this planet (Rutledge & Warden, 2000). A deeper understanding of t he theory of evolution and its re lationship to our planet will be
13 indispensable as human societies strive fo r sustainable ways of living and interacting with the natural environment (National Academy of Sci ences, 1998). Facing the contemporary challenges that afflict our pl anet will require proper standards of evolution instruction that will provide teachers, student s, and the public with the necessary tools to take a proactive stance. The underlying pr inciples of evolutio n provide an essential framework to understanding the role of human societies as individual yet cohesive units within a complex and ever-changi ng world (Brem et al., 2003). Although the theory of evolution is well supported and mostly non-controversial within the scientific community, its ideas like many others in science have yet to make the transition into mainstream thought (Allm on, 2006; Rutledge & Warden, 2000). This disparity is largely the result of decades of ineffective communication on the part of researchers, educators, and t he general public (Rutledge & Warden, 2000). The overlap between science and society further complicates the dissemination of evolution into the classroom, leading to less competence in discussing controversial issues (Cobern, 1994; Hermann, 2008) since teac hers are influenced by thei r cultures and societies (Hokayem and BouJaoude, 2008). Although the theory of evol ution is applicable in all areas of the life sciences, for example, agr iculture, health care, and conservation, the communication of unbiased accounts of the t heory at all levels of the education system remains a daunting task (Crawford, 2005). Fostering an understanding of evolution is c entral to improving scientific literacy (Cummins et al., 1994; Prinou et al., 2005). But it is only through the integration of evolutionary theory into main stream thought that we can lead to more scientifically literate and environmentally consci entious societies. Scientif ic literacy, itself, can only
14 be enhanced if we address the most important mediators in the education system: teachers the primary medi ators of scientific knowle dge between the scientific community and the general public in most de veloping countries. Teachers have the authority to choose what is placed in the curriculum and taught in the classroom, thus determining the quality of science education presented to students (Abell, 2007). Since teachers could very well impact the quality and nature of evolutionary content in the syllabus, or distort it with ot her theories, the po ssibility of teachers cheating our future scientists of scientifically accurate content is all too great. For this reason, research on teachers' attitudes, content and pedagogical knowledge is salie nt in the quest towards curriculum reform as it pertain s to evolution instruction. The variations among teac hers' personal epistemolo gies and understandings of evolution, particularly how the theory perta ins to everyday life, can have serious repercussions for evolution instruction (Ande rson, 2007). As evidenced by survey data in the United States, teachers' views on t he topic are as skeptical as those of the general population (Anderson, 2007; Osif 1997; Rutledge & Warden, 2000). Skepticism about pivotal topics like evolution, and failure to provide a sound and holistic understanding of science, present s a roadblock in stimulating the intellectual growth and development of students. In contrast teachers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with research in the field in an effort to deepen and remain current on the science content so they provide students with accurate information. As continuous learners, it is import ant that teachers build on their knowledge of factual information pertaining to evolution so they provide unbiased accounts of t he topic. Failure to do so results in limited conceptions of what it means to be a teacher (Anderson, 2007).
15 Because students' views about the theory of evolution are so va ried, the role of teachers in guiding their learning is c hallenging but necessary in order to encourage alternative ways of thinking about the worl d (Anderson, 2007; Crawford, 2005; Tobin et al., 1990). The role of the teacher of evol ution is therefore to provide students with appropriate experiences to develop concept ual maps and internalize where and how they personally fit into it. The teaching of evolution r equires that its content be understood from a biological, intellectual, environmental, pedagogical and social context (Anderson, 2007). From a biological standpoint, it has profound implications for understanding: a) the need for genetic variability and high biodiversity, b) the mechanisms underlying genetic heritability, c) the consequences of exploiting natural resour ces, d) the transmission and virility of pathogens, and e) our connection to and interdependence on all ecosystems. Thus, content communicated to students has profound philosophical and intellectual implications (Anderson, 2007), particular ly when it comes to integrating the understanding of different fields into a common understanding of science and its importance to everyday life. The benefits of teac hing biological evolution could have profound positive effects on t he understanding of social and health related problems such as obesity, disease, and undesirable persona lity traits afflicting a region (D'Adamo & Whitney, 1997; Hamer & Copeland, 1998). De spite these benefits, low levels of evolutionary knowledge as well as inadequate pedagogical skills continue to prevent the topic from being further di sseminated into classroom. 21&*%'&0%*+3*.1*4+ By revisiting the considerable am ount of work focused on evolution education, this literature review seeks to set the st age for exploring teacher acceptance and
16 understanding of evolution. It will first fo cus on the problems associated with evolution instruction, and later move on to address research on acceptance and understanding of evolutionary theory, the role of science standards and standardized tests in evolution instruction, common misconceptions about ev olution, and evolution in the science curriculum. 21"1&'&1$(5+&$+-.$/0&1$(+!(5&%0)&1$(+ Both scientists and major science educ ation policy doc uments (American Association for the Advancement of Sci ence, 1993; National Research Council, 1996) have endorsed evolution as a unifying theme in biology (Deniz et al., 2008). Over the past three decades, the treatment of evolut ion in state standar d documents in the United States has varied in quality and quantity (Lerner, 2000; Donnelly & Boone, 2007). Since initial reforms in the 1980s, mu ltiple organizations [National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), National Research Council (NRC) and the American Association for the Advancement of Sc ience (AAAS)] have developed national science standards that have been incorporated into st ate standards (Raizen, 1998). These suggestions, however, oftentimes fail to make it into the classroom because of teachers' personal attitudes, beliefs, and discretion (A guillard, 1999; Shankar & Skoog, 1993). The limitations to teaching evolution go beyond the obvious issues with this controversial topic, and manife st themselves in all levels of the education process as either limited or inaccurate content k nowledge. Many studi es have shown that instruction in this area has been desult ory and limited by poor science standards, teachers' personal religious beliefs and in sufficient content knowledge (Rutledge & Warden, 2000; Shankar, 1990). Teaching t he subject is difficult because its understanding is based on concepts from va rious disciplines and because acceptance
17 can be influenced by personal epistemologi es (Kampourakis and Zogza, 2008). A serious problem arises when teachers ta ke a one-dimensional approach to teaching evolution (Anderson, 2007). When evolutio n is presented to students as a complex entity independent of other bi ological concepts, it prevents the intellectual understanding of the topic. Furthermore, studies have shown that evolution is presented as a recitation of historical Darwin ian facts, with little meaning or application to daily activities and life processes (C atley, 2006). This highly skewed form of evolution education fails to acknowledge the totality of evolutionary theory (Anderson, 2007). In particular, macroevolutionary concepts have typically represented a "black hole" in evolution instruction (Catley, 2006). Evol ution at the macro-le vel is poorly presented in many high school textbooks, (Catley & No vick, 2009). Major topics that remain largely unaddressed are: species, phy logenetics, and deep time (Catle y, 2006). Of these, the understanding of deep time (Dodick & Orion, 2003; Trend, 2001) and the interpretation of species have resulted in a small body of literature. Research has been focused on the more popular, population-level processe s like natural selection, as models to understand how people think about evolution (Catley, 2006). Because evolution instruction is heavily weighed in favor of microevolution, teachers have a poor understanding of the processes that operate at t he macro-level (Catley, 2006). It is therefore important to fo cus on teachers' understanding of many challenging macroevolutionary concepts, incl uding deep time, natural hierar chy, character evolution, extinction, and synapomorphies (Catley, 2006). Within the classroom, the overarching goal should be to teach evol utionary theory using exampl es from both microand
18 macrostandpoints under the colle ctive theme of molecular, individual, population, and ecological modification s (Catley & Novick, 2009). 6))*#&'()*+'(7+8(7*%5&'(71(9+$,+-.$/0&1$(+ While acceptance and belief are used in terchangeably in the literature, belief implies lac k of evidence in developing c onclusions while acceptance of a concept implies that evidence has been weighed to assess its validity (Hermann, 2008). Many science education researchers (see Demastes et al., 1995, Lawson & Worsnop, 1992) use the term belief for consistency with the liter ature. For the purpose of this study, I focus on teacher acceptance of the theory of evolution. Because some aspects of the theory of evolution are more accepted than ot hers, it is important to note that nonacceptance does not imply total rejection of evolution (Donnelly et al., 2008; Hermann, 2005). However, non-acceptanc e of the theory of evolut ion can seriously hinder classroom experiences during evolution inst ruction. The acceptance of evolutionary theory is related to an array of complex fact ors. Demastes and other s (1995) posit that a lack of acceptance may result from: a) prior conceptions related to evolution, b) degree of scientific literacy and understanding, c) view of nature, d) view of the biological world, and e) religious orientation. In addition, other factors are potentially correlated with the acceptance of evolutiona ry theory, including: i) reasoning level (Lawson & Thompson, 1988; Lawson & We ser, 1990; Lawson & Worsnop, 1992), ii) perceptions of the impact of evolutionary theory (Brem et al., 2003), iii) epistemological beliefs (Sinatra et al., 2003) and iv) thinking dispositions (Sinat ra et al., 2003). In turn, the quantity and quality of evolution instruct ion is related to the acceptance of evolutionary theory.
19 Teachers' acceptance and knowledge of evolutionary theory are important predictors for instructional approaches to evolution (Aguillard, 1999, Rutledge and Mitchell, 2002; Shankar and Skoog,1993). Teacher s who do not accept or understand evolutionary theory may actively choose not to teach its concepts, regardless of whether it is prescribed in the syllabus or not. Many teachers fail to teach the theory of evolution because they do not accept it (Aguillard, 1999; Eve & Dunn, 1990; Shankar & Skoog, 1993), do not thoroughly understand it (Aleixandr e, 1994; Rutledge & Warden, 2000) or feel ill prepared to teach it (Aguillard, 1999; Griffith & Brem, 2004) Other studies have ascribed a limited understandi ng of the nature of science (Rutledge & Warden, 2000), and a failure to understand the laws and protections related to the teaching of evolution to poor evolution instruction (Moore, 2004). Some teachers find evolution instruction to be stressful and conflicting with student and co mmunity beliefs (Chuang, 2003; Griffith & Brem, 2004; Scharmann & Harris, 1992; Tatina, 1989; VanKoevering & Stiehl, 1989), or too advanced for students (Aguill ard, 1999). This list is by no means exhaustive since there are many interrelated factors at work when it comes to evolution instruction. Research on the relationship between kn owledge and acceptance of evolutionary theory is a growing trend am ong science education researchers. Studies have found that increases in knowledge of evolution ca n lead to positive changes in the acceptance of evolution (e.g. Lawson & Wesner, 1990), including increased instruction time. Because concepts contained in the theory can be difficult to grasp for students of all levels (Brumby, 1984; Greene, 1990; J ohnson & Peebles, 1987; Lawson & Thompson, 1988; Moore et al., 2002; Woods & Scharm ann, 2001), teachers' knowledge of the theory of evolution can eit her have positive or negative impacts on student learning.
20 Thus, if our aim is to improve evolution education in schools, research on the importance of teacher education as well as on the interre lated factors, acceptance and understanding, cannot be over stated. Such studies, however, require ethical considerations and must be approached wi th caution (Meadows et al., 2000). :)1*()*+:&'(7'%75+'(7+:&'(7'%71;*7+<*5&5+ Science st andards can play both positiv e and negative roles in the classroom (Moore, 2002). However, ev en excellent nationa l or regional standards are not always reflected in the curriculum (Korte, 2003; M oore, 2002). There are various reasons for the disconnect between state st andards and the teaching of evolution: 1) many high school teachers do not accept evolution, and 2) some high school teachers who accept evolution are reluctant to t each a theory that may upset or clash with the views of students and/or their parent s. Many teachers view the t heory's potential for controversy as too costly in terms of classroom time, and therefore opt to leave evolution out of the curriculum (Dean, 2005). Furthermore, those topics not included in standardized tests are given least priority in the classroom, defeating the purpose of having national or regional science standards. The use of standardized tests can hav e several negative impacts on science education. Some teachers view standards as creating overcrowded and disconnected curricula that cannot be successfully co vered in detail (Settlage & Meadows, 2002; Wood, 1988). Most standardized tests are desi gned to test what students know rather than how and why they construct such know ledge. One of the major drawbacks to these tests for both teachers and students is the lack of theor etical perspectives on how scientific knowledge is developed, test ed, and applied for purposes beyond the standardized test. But, although there are nume rous negative attributes associated with
21 science standards, there is evidence that good science standards can foster reform in the teaching of evolution (Donnelly & B oone, 2007; Skoog & Bilica, 2002). Thus, teachers need to do more than develop cu rriculum materials and instructional approaches whose goal is to inform. Teachers must bridge the gap between evolutionary content, the natur e of science and the natural world in a way that is intellectually stimulating. =15)$()*#&1$(5+ Studies have shown that even though a majo rity of teachers show significant decreases in misconceptions about evolutio n and natural selection after being properly educated o n the subject, there is still little improvem ent with respect to their internal epistemologies about science and evolutiona ry concepts (Nehm & Schonfeld, 2007). Teachers come to class bearing similar misconceptions as those held by the general public. This inherently contri butes to the low levels of evolutionary knowledge and the high levels of evolutionary misconcepti ons held by high school biology students (Demastes et al., 1995). This alarmi ng trend supports the need to address the loopholes associated with t eacher content knowledge a bout evolutionary theory and their understanding of the devel opment of theories and the nature of science. One of the most common misconceptions in evolut ion is the Lamarckian concept of heredity (Demastes et al., 1995; Jensen & Finley, 1996; Smith et al. 1995; Zuzovsky, 1994). To make matters worse, there is confusion over the definition of a "theory". While in vernacular English a theory refers to a "mere guess or opinion", in science it is understood as a scientifically valid explanation based on ri gorous experimentation yet open for changes in light of new evidence. It is of interest to evaluate whether these
22 misconceptions and others hold true in region s outside the United St ates, with varying cultures and education systems. -.$/0&1$(+1(+&>*+:)1*()*+?0%%1)0/0"+ The controversy surrounding evolution in struction is viewed as predominantly an American phenomenon (Downie & Barron, 2000) mainly due to pervasive fundamental religious beliefs, the politic iz ation of science and poor under standing of genetics, among other factors (Miller et al., 2006). A significant percent age of high school biology teachers in the United States ar e skeptical that evolution is central to the understanding of biology (Osif, 1997; Rutledge & Warden, 2000; Tatina,1989; Weld & McNew,1999; Zimmerman, 1987). Studies have shown t hat most American high school biology teachers either allocate very li ttle time to evolution or omit evolution from the curriculum (Moore, 2002; Rutledge & Warden, 2000; Weld & McNew, 1999). In Louisiana and Texas, 60% and 55% of biology teacher s, respectively, spend less than five instructional days on evolution (Aguillar d, 1999; Shankar & Skoog, 1993). South Dakota teachers spend an average of 5.3 da ys on evolution (Tatina, 1989). During these times, evolution is only "briefly ment ioned" or even avoided when possible. After countless courses in biological science, some teachers still disagree that evolution is central to biology (Osif, 1997), indicating that teachers are not treating evolution as an organizing principle in their cl asses (Donnelly & Boone, 2006). In the United States, the tr eatment of evolution varies from state to state, with close to 40% of them bei ng identified as having unsatisfactory science standards (Lerner, 2000). Lerner (2000) found that Ohio's state standards were "useless or absent" and thus assigned them a grade of F. On the ot her hand, Indiana's standards pertaining to the theory of evolution were "exemplary, and straigh tforward" (p. 14) and
23 therefore were assigned a grade of A. Interestingly, howeve r, a survey of high school students by Bandoli (2008) found t hat the coverage of evolution in public high schools in Indiana and Ohio was not influenced by state standards. In both stat es it appears that the modal time devoted to evolution was le ss than a week. In addition, 30% of the students suggested that evolution was not m entioned or was mentioned but not covered in their biology class. These results are c onsistent with the results of a 1995 survey of 552 Indiana high school biology teachers that found that 33% spent fewer than three days on evolution and 43% avoided or only briefly mentioned the topic (Rutledge & Mitchell, 2002). Alarmingly, since Lerner's ( 2000) study, the number of states receiving A's or B's has declined over the years. Gross (2005), identif ied only 20 states as A's or B's pertaining to the treatment of evolution in t heir standards; 23 received either a D or an F. This de-emphasis on evolutionary inst ruction in state mandated curriculum shows that there is a great need for reform in state standards regarding science education. Unlike the United States, most countri es do not experience a public backlash regarding the teaching of evolution (Herm ann, 2008). However, the few studies that have addressed the theory of evolution in co untries other than t he United States have traditionally been limited to pubic opinion and are only now beginning to investigate teachers' epistemological beliefs on the t opic and factors that contribute to both acceptance and understanding (See Deniz et al., 2008; Hammeed, 2008; Lee & Yeoh, 1998). Miller and others (2006) found that European countr ies including Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, France as well as Asian countries like Japan, have much higher acceptance of the theory of ev olution than do countries like Cyprus, United States and Turkey. Specifically, Deniz and others (2008) explored factors related to the
24 acceptance of evolutionary theory among Tu rkish pre-service teachers and found that teachers' thinking dispositions (degree of open-mindedness and reflective thinking), understanding of evolutionary theory, and their parents' educational level are all positively correlated to their acceptance of ev olutionary theory. However, these three factors account for only 10.5% of the variance in acceptanc e of evolutionary theory, leaving a majority of the variance unexplained In addition, a substantial number of the participants did not endorse evolution as a sci entifically valid t heory. Although there was a positive correlation between intellig ibility (understanding of evolution) and plausibility (acceptance of evol ution) (r=0.20, p <0.05), t he intelligibility alone only explained 3.3% of the variance in plausibility. In a sim ilar study, Lee and Yeoh (1998) assessed senior and junior high school teachers' knowledge about the theory of evolution in Singapore and found that both groups of teachers had inadequate knowledge levels, with senior high teachers having a significantly better grasp of the content. Although research pertaining to evolution acceptance and evolut ion instruction has been conducted in several countries, the scarcity of published work indicates that there is need for more research that looks spec ifically into teachers' acceptance and understanding of the t heory of evolution. 3'&1$('/*+,$%+:&07@+ A>@+B19>+:)>$$/+<*')>*%5C+ Research that focuses on teachers' acceptance of evolution and their state of knowledge is of relevance becaus e t eachers have a profound influence on the educational setting and on the quality of knowle dge transmitted to students and diffused into communities. Prior to making recommendations on how to address the theory of
25 evolution, it is important to evaluate teacher views on the topic, as well as their teaching confidence. The personal ambiguities of teacher understanding are valuable starting points for implementing professional develop ment programs to minimize significant roadblocks in the advancement of st udent learning (Anderson, 2007). As mediators of canonical knowledge, t eachers have the authorit y over what and how topics are presented in the classroom. It is therefore expected that teachers have a sound grasp of the natur e of science and that t hey are capable of making professionally responsible instructional and curricular decisions (Carlesen, 1991; Rutledge & Warden, 2000). After all, t he teaching of evolution depends on the individual classroom biology teacher and t he attitudes that guide personal decision making (Goldston & Kyzer, 2009). Teachers' personal and professional attitudes toward selected topics can be transferred to students who will someday be teachers as well. According to Bransford and others (2000), students learn best when presented with factual knowledge and a conceptual framework that guides their organization of knowledge. Fostering such l earning process is extremely important, particularly in regions where 1) teachers serv e as the primary mediators of scientific knowledge, and 2) students are drafted in or out of science during early high school years. Failure to introduce students to the theory during those critical high school years can present serious problems because not all students go to college or take introductory biology courses. And even if they do take these classes, not all introductory courses teach evolution. :*&&1(9+&>*+:&'9*+,$%+D*4+3*5*'%)>+ Research indicates that evolution inst ruction has been populariz ed and limited to the United States (Downie and Barron, 2000) and as such, little is known about its
26 status around the world. From previous st udies spanning decades, it is clear that even with the level of attention placed on evolution standards in the United States, the country is still plagued by low levels of acceptance and understanding (Lerner, 2000; Miller et al., 2006). Researc hers, however, are now turning their attention to Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean in an effort to contribute to the worldwide discussion on evolution education. Specifically, the current literature pr esents a paucity of research on teachers' acceptance and under standing of evolution in the regions of Central America and the Caribbean. This study marks the beginning of research pertaining to evolution education in the region. I, as a Caribbean nati onal with extensive teaching experience and interest in science educ ation, am suited to investigate the state of evolution instruction in the region. Studies like this are crucial in the quest to improve science standards and could eventually serve to expand scientific literacy, leading to a more knowledgeable citizenry capable of making educated decisions regarding the environment, health care, sustainability, and conservation. ?$(&*E&0'/+F')G9%$0(7+$(+:&07@+ F*/1;*H'+/1(G+I*&4**(+?*(&%'/+6"*%1)'+'(7+&>*+?'%1II*'(+ A nation yet to be targeted by studie s asses sing teachers' acceptance and understanding of evolutionary t heory is Belize, a sparsely populated Central American country located south of Mexico and east of Guatemala (See Fig. 1-1) Belize is a small democratic country nestled in the heart of Ce ntral America. With a population of about 270,000 people spread over 8,867 sq miles (22,960 sq km), Belize has the lowest population density in Central America and possibly one of the lowest in the world (www.pact.org). It is also one of the most ethnically diverse nations on the planet, with a colorful mix of cultures that include the Garifuna (descendants of African slaves), the
27 Mestizo (mixtures of Mayans and Europeans), the Creole (mixtures of African slaves and Europeans), and the Maya (Ketchi, Yuca tec and Mopan) as well as the Mennonite, Hindi, Taiwanese, Chinese and Caucasians. Though Belize is the only country in Central America whose official language is English, its large Spanish and Mayan populations facilitate interactions with Centra l and Latin America. On the other hand, its citizens of African decent help the country to maintain strong ties with the Caribbean. Belize boasts an impressive array of f aunal species for a country of its size, including over 500 species of birds and 124 species of mammals Ninety-three percent of Belize's land is under forest cover with 42% of that land (2.6 million acres) being under some form of legal protected status (wwww.pact.org). These 2.6 million acres are subdivided into 92 protect ed areas, including the only j aguar preserve on the planet and the world renowned Belize Barrier-Reef System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that serves as an important habitat for a host of threatened species. In spite of this progress, deforestation, pollution, and development continue to threaten the livelihood of these fragile ecosystems. -70)'&1$(+:@5&*"+1(+F*/1;*+ In Belize, the 4 years of high school is guided by Caribbean scienc e standards designed by the Caribbean Examination Council (C XC). Every five years, the Ministry of Education receives a revised syllabus from the CXC that prescribes the content for all subjects, including biology. Al though all public schools ascri be to the syllabus, private schools can opt not to. Eight years of educati on is compulsory for all Belizean citizens. However, only 84.7% of students make the transition from elementary school to high school (Yvonne Flowers, Statistician, Policy and Planning Unit, Ministry of Education, Belize, Personal Communication, November 03, 2009). There are no records of what
28 proportion of these students enroll into college. Higher education in Belize was unified under the University of Belize in 2000. Today there are four community colleges and a single university in the country. In Belize, the dichotomy between busine ss studies and the academic sciences in the education system places pressure on stu dents to choose between them as early as the 11th grade. In addition, students typically declare a college major prior to exiting the 12th grade. As a result, students' views of science are fixed early in high school because most students do not take science cla sses past 12th grade nor pursue careers in science. Such education systems can present serious drawbacks to scientific literacy. Educating teachers is a step towards pres enting reliable accounts of evolution in the classroom and establishing the theory in to mainstream thought. Studies focusing on educators are feasible in Belize partly due to its manageable number of high schools and biology teachers. Of the 48 high schools in Belize, only 43 teach biology at the 11th and 12th grade levels, and of these, 37 teach biology based on the standardized syllabus issued by the CXC. Of these, 13 ar e public schools, 24 are public schools with religious affiliations and 6 are private schools (Figure 1-2; High School Principals, Personal Communication, February 2008, 2009). Sixteen Caribbean nations, including Belize, administer the Caribbean Secondary Exam ination Certificate (CSEC) in Biology, a standardized test used to compare thei r performance throughout the Caribbean. Although teachers prepare st udents in 11th and 12th grade, students do not sit for the exam until the end of 12th grade. According to the only CSEC biology resource official in Belize, CXC has not made radical changes to their biology content in decades. The
29 2004 revised syllabus, which has serv ed as the 2004-2009 teac hing guide for all participating high schools in Belize, is comp rised almost entirely of outdated content. The most recent CXC biology syllabus (2004) is divided into five sections lettered A through E: A) Living organisms and the environment; B) Life processes; C) Continuity and variation; D) Disease and its impact on humans; and E) Environment and human activities. Of the five secti ons, only section C briefly introduc es the theory of evolution. Although one of the main objectives of this section is to have students "demonstrate an understanding of the impor tance of genetic variation in sp ecies and how these traits can be altered", there is little mention of nat ural selection, mutation, migration or conservation in the section. F1$/$9@+-70)'&1$(+J%$9%'"+ In Belize, the biology educat ion program is a 4-year co llege degree that prepares future biology teachers for the classroom. The curriculum focuses on both content and pedagogy with lectures being coupled with tr aditional laboratory classes and a field component at the end of the program. Teachers take General Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology (I & II), General Chem istry (I & II), Algebra, Teaching Methods, Class Assessment, and Intro to Special Ed, in addition to other prerequisites during the first two years of the progr am (4 semesters). Biochem istry, Invertebrate History, Microbiology, Lower Plants, Teaching Strategi es for Special Needs, Introduction to Curriculum, Philosophy of Education, Inst ructional Technology, Guidance Counseling, Instructional Techniques and Adolescent P sychology are courses offered in the V and VI semesters. The final two semester s include Higher Plants, Molecular Biology, Science Methods, Measurement and Evaluation, Professionalis m in Education, Content Area Reading, Field Experience, Ecology and Evolution and possible elective courses.
30 As stated in the University of Belize catalog, the course entitled "E cology and Evolution" is described as: An introduction to evolutionary biol ogical analysis. Topics include: ecosystems; introduction to evoluti on; adaptation; spatial and temporal distribution; life histories; sex and evolution; population dynamics; interspecific associations; community ecol ogy; speciation, ad aptive radiation; co-evolution. A two-to-three day field tr ip to one of the national protected areas is included for studying conservation. Even though a bachelor's degree in Biology Education is likely to guarantee a job as a high school biology teacher in Belize an associate's or bachelor's degree in Biology or related science is often acc eptable for the teaching position (personal observation). This is particularly true in t he rural areas of the country. As a result, biology teachers in Belize may be underprepared to teach complicated units such as the theory of evolution. 3*5*'%)>+K0*5&1$(5+'(7+B@#$&>*5*5+ 3*5*'%)>+K0*5&1$(5+ This study seeks to investigate the current state of evolution instruction in the Caribbean with Belize as the study site. S pecifically, it includes an evaluation of biology teachers' acceptance and understanding of evolution, t he position of evolution in the local, and regional science standards and to a lesser extent, seeks to uncover possible misconceptions and limitations to the teaching of evolution in the region. This research is guided by the following four questions: 1. What is the current stat e of acceptance of evolutionary theory among high school biology teachers in Belize? 2. What is the current understanding of evolutionary theory among high school biology teachers in Belize? 3. What factors contribute to the overa ll acceptance and understanding of evolutionary theory among high school biol ogy teachers in Belize?
31 4. How much emphasis is placed on evoluti onary content at the local, and regional science levels, as evidenced in the science standards? B@#$&>*5*5+ 1. High school biology teachers in Be lize have low levels of acceptance and understanding of evolution. 2. Teachers with higher levels of teacher academic preparation are more accepting and have a better understanding of the theory of evolution compared to teachers with low levels of academic preparation. Teachers from large, urban, public schools have higher levels of acceptance than teache rs from small, rural, private schools. 3. Teacher acceptance of evolution is correlated with teacher understanding of evolution, education level and in crease in teaching experience. 4. Evolution plays a minor role in th e regional science standards and standardized tests in the Caribbean.
32 Figure 1-1. Map of Belize depi cting its location in Central America and the Caribbean. The number of teachers from rural and urban high schools in each of the six districts in Belize is indicated.
33 Figure 1-2. Demographics of the 43 high schools Belize that teach 11th and 12th grade Biology.
34 CHAPTER 2 RESEARCH METHODS L'&'+?$//*)&1$(+ To answer the research questions delineated in this study, a survey employing both supplied-response and open-ended questions was m odified from existing instruments used to assess acceptance and knowledge of evolutionary theory. The survey instrument was subdivided into four di stinct sections. Section I, comprised of four questions that seek to elicit teacher biographical information such as type of degree and years of teaching experie nce. Section II was comprised of the Measure of Acceptance of the Theory of Evolution (MA TE) instrument, a 20-item Likert scale developed by Rutledge & Warden, (1999). They reported that the content-validity of the instrument was established by a committee of five university professors who have expertise in the fields of evolutionary bi ology, science education, and the philosophy of science who were asked to rate each item on a scale of 1 to 5, and consequently, no item with a rating of less than 3.5 was included in the scale. In addition, Chronbach's alpha was 0.98 indicating high reliability. Although the instrument was designed to assess the degree to which American biology high school teachers accept evolution, the questions are of general nature and can be us ed in other countries provided that experts in those countries assess face and content validity. The 20 items addressed concepts such as scientific validity of evolut ionary theory, creationi sm, the evolution of man, the acceptance of evolutionary t heory among the scientific community, and the age of the Earth. For this section, the answers ranged fr om A-E, with A indicating 'strongly disagree' and E indicating 'str ongly agree'. To assess teacher understanding of evolutionary content, an existing 21-it em scale from Rutledge & Warden (2000) was
35 used in Section III. The original scale wa s developed by Johnson (1985). These items addressed concepts of natural selection, extinction processes, intermediate forms, genetic variability, environmental change, and the fossil record. Scores were determined based on the number of correct re sponses. Section IV included 6 suppliedresponse and open-ended questions regardi ng biology textbooks, and teacher confidence levels for teaching evolution. This scale was modified from Moore & Kraemer, (2005), Tatina, (1989), and Zimmerman (1987). The instruments used to assess accept ance and understanding of evolution in Sections II and III were selected because they had established content and construct validity as well as reliability. The instru ments have also been used in similar studies worldwide (see Deniz et al, 2008, Hokaye m & BouJaoude 2008; Korte, 2003). In addition to the pre-approved valid ity tests, Dr. Colette St. Mary, an evolution expert at the University of Florida assessed each item for both content and face validity purposes. Because sections of the instrument were originally designed to assess acceptance and understanding of evolutionary c ontent by American high school teachers, the instrument was submitted to a science educat or at the University of Be lize to ensure the items were written and structured in a way that was suitable for the loca l population of teachers. Prior to implementing the surveys, a pilot study involving high school science teachers in Belize was conducted to assess the clarity of each item as well as the international reliability of the instrument. In addition to implementing the surv eys, 11th and 12th grade biology course outlines (syllabi) were collected from parti cipating schools (only 31% of participating schools provided these documents) to quantif y the amount of evolutionary content
36 present in each. Past CSEC biology syllabi (science standards) and examinations from 2000-2007 were also collected from the Ministry of Education to investigate the quantity and quality of evolutionary content tested ov er the last decade. The 2008 report on student performance in the 2008 Biology CSEC examination was also scrutinized. <>*+:'"#/*+'(7+:0%.*@+J%$&$)$/+ This study targeted 11th and 12th grade biol ogy teachers from public and private schools across Belize. A total of 61 high sch ool biology teachers have been reported in the country (personal observation). Due to this small population, all teachers were asked to participate in the study. Official letters announcing the study were s ent by both email and regular mail to each of the participating high schools in Be lize. Included in th is letter were both principal and biology teacher consent forms indicating the study's objectives, procedures, potential risks and anticipated benefits, in addition to a statement providing the opportunity to withdraw from the study at any time (See App endix C & D). All official documents, including consent forms and survey instruments were written in English, given its status as the official language and the only language used for instruction in high schools. Once all institutions received th is notification, principals were contacted via phone to confirm their willingness to par ticipate in the study. Meetings with principals and teachers as well as the implementation of surveys were done in person by the author. Only schools wh ose principals agreed to part icipate in the study were visited. Upon arrival at the school, but prior to interacting with teac hers, the researcher met with the respective principal to obtai n a copy of the signed "Principal Consent Form". Once this was successfully accompli shed, biology teachers of participating high schools were briefed on the project and ask ed to read and sign the "Teacher Consent
37 Form" if they agreed to participate in the study. Surveys were conducted at the teacher's discretion, either during free class periods or at the end of the school day so as not to disrupt regular class time. Teacher(s) were directed to unoccupied classrooms and asked to complete the survey as honestly as possible. Teachers were then provided with a copy of the survey, and a "privacy envelope" to place their completed surveys (these were not opened until the data compilation phase). Teachers were given specific instructions on how to complete the surveys in addition to being briefed on the anonymity of the study, the importance of an honest response, and their ability to withdraw from the study at any particular time as indicated by UF IRB regulations (Appendix B). The researcher th en left the room but remained nearby to answer structural questions. Following the completion of t he surveys, teachers were asked to submit their sealed envelopes. Once the survey(s) was submitted, the researcher was available for ques tions and feedback on the study. L*/1"1&'&1$(5+ 1. The population chosen fo r the study was current 11t h and 12th grade biology teachers. Thus, additional teachers who had training in biology but were not teaching the course during the academic year of 2008-2009 were not included in this study. 2. This study focused on teachers in Belize and may not be comparable to situations outside the Caribbean. However, because t he survey instrument has not been modified from its original version, the re sults can be compared to studies similar studies in the United States, and elsewhere. 3. Only schools that teach biology were ta rgeted for this study. Schools with 11th and 12th grade science teachers but no 11th and 12th grade biology courses/teachers were removed from the sampling group si nce the comparative science standards for this study came from the CSEC biology syllabus. 21"1&'&1$(5++ 1. A response effect is the predisposition of a respondent to provide responses that are socially or professionally acceptable rather than expressing his/he r true feelings on a
38 topic. In order to minimize the response effect in this study, the interviewer was careful not to talk down to the respondent or imply that there are preferable responses. In addition, surveys were shor t and easy to read, to prevent respondents from becoming bored or fatigued. Moreov er, subjects were briefed on the importance of an honest response. Most of what we know about what is taught in high school biology classes comes from t eachers' self reports (e.g. Moore 2005; Trani, 2004). 2. Because the sample size for this study was small and the fit statistics for the Rasch Analysis are sensitive to small sample size s (i.e., n < 200 for our instrument), there is potential for misrepresentat ion of the MNSQ values. L'&'+6('/@515+ 6('/@515+$,+=6<-+21G*%&+:)'/*+ The Likert scale from the MATE component of the survey (Sec tion II) was scored 1 through 5, with 5 points indicating strongly agree, 4 agree, 3 undecided, 2 disagree, and 1 strongly disagree. Answers with the highes t level of acceptance for the theory of evolution received a score of 5 on the scale. Be cause item numbers 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, 17 and 19 were stated negatively, the scores for these questions were converted. For example a score of 5, which indicated a response of strongly agree for a negatively stated item was given a score of 1, which corre ctly identified a low level of acceptance. Thus the sum of the 20 item s on the MATE for each responden t was restricted to the range of 20 to100 points. Bas ed on these scores, respondents were split into two categories: an acceptance and a rejection gr oup. Respondents with sums that were greater than 70 were placed in the accept ance group, while respondents with sums less than 70 were placed in the rejection group (Kor te, 2003). Scores that were close to the cutoff mark were scrutinized. The scores fo r the MATE portion of the instrument were used to find the mean acceptance levels of each group. The scaled responses were also ranked per group to determine which items scored the highest for each group and which scored the lowest. To determine if th e differences in average scores between the
39 groups was significant, median ranks were tested using a nonparametric Mann-Whitney Test. A Kruskall Wallis Test was used to compare differences among the acceptance, rejection and the entire group of respondent s. Differences in MATE scores among sexes, levels of academic preparation and variations in teaching experience were analyzed using the appropriate parametric and non-parametric tests (t-tests, one-way ANOVAs, Mann-Whitney, and Kruskall Wallis ; data were Bonferroni-adjusted for multiple comparisons). 3'5)>+6('/@515+$,+=6<-+21G*%&+5)'/*+ MINSTEPS version 3.68.2 was used to apply the Rasch Model to analyze the Likert scale data fro m the MATE instrument in Section II. This model is suitable for analyzing Likert scales and performance tests because it does not require assumptions about the sampling or normal distributions. The model creates measures that can be utilized in parametric tests by turning nonlinear, ordinal rating scales (Likert data) into linear intervals where the difference between two values is actually meaningful (Wright & Masters, 1982; Donnelly & B oone, 2007). By using mathem atical formulas, the model calculates the probability that a person will get an item corre ct, as well as the probability that a question will be answered correctly. T he resulting interval scores for both the difficulty of items and the ability of the res pondents are presented in logit units typically reported on vertical rulers. The "ability" score is a perceived ability that is rescaled by the Rasch model to indicate teacher acceptance of evolutionary theory. The higher he ability score, the higher the teacher acceptance of evolution. Simila rly, the higher the logit score for the item, the more difficult the item was for the respondents. Thus "difficult items" indicate items teachers di sagree with while "easy items" indicate items that teachers are more acc epting of. Fit statistics c an be used to determine if the
40 probabilities of the data fit the expectations of the mat hematic model. Typically, if the mean square (MNSQ) fit statistics exceed 1.5 t he data is viewed as being questionable. The Rasch model also provides many tools to assess validity and reliability (Donnelly & Boone, 2007). For the purpose of this study the Rasch model, or oneparameter item-response theory (IRT) model, wa s used to verify that the items of the MATE contributed to a single factor and are sufficiently spread along this factor to determine recognizable acceptance levels of evolution. It can also help to evaluate whether the MATE instrument separates teachers into acceptance and rejection groups. Also, it has the ability to contrast item diffi culties to see topics in evolutionary biology that are more widely accepted as well as t hose that are not. This has the potential to help create a "misconception profile" comp rised of poorly understood or unaccepted items that can be tackled in future teacher professional development workshops. 6('/@515+$,+M($4/*79*N8(7*%5&'(71(9+:)'/*+ Each respondent was also given a score for Section III comprised of 21 multiplechoice questions used to a ssess understanding of t he theory of evolution. Since there were 21 questions in this section, scores we re calculated by computing the percentage of items that were answered co rrectly for each respondent. For this section, the sample size of the population was decreased from 59 to 55 because one teacher refused to answer the section while three other teachers only completed the first few questions in the section. L$)0"*(&+6('/@515+ In addition to implementing the surveys, offi cial document records were collected and analyzed to quantify the presence or absenc e of evolution. The 2004 CSEC biology syllabus was analyzed for objective s, and units pertaining to the theory of
41 evolution. In addition, 11th and 12th grade biol ogy course outlines were collected from participating schools (only 31% were submitted) to quantify the amount of evolutionary content present in each. Past CSEC biology syllabi (science standards) and examinations from 2000-2007 were also collected from the Ministry of Education to investigate the quantity and qualit y of evolutionary content te sted over the last decade. Both the local course outlines and regional syllabus were analyzed for objectives and units pertaining to the theory of evolution. The CXC report on student performance in the 2008 Biology CSEC examination was used to investigate which test questions and corresponding content areas prove difficult fo r students. Lastly, teacher responses to section IV of the survey instrument, which comprised of open-ended questions were coded and analyzed. The comments and conc erns expressed by teachers upon completion of the survey were also used to in terpret the state of ev olution instruction in Belize.
42 CHAPTER 3 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION O1('/+:'"#/*+:1;*+ All 43 high schools in Beliz e that teach 11th and 12th grade biology participated in the study. However, due to conflicting sc hedules, only 59 of t he 61 biology teachers from these schools were able to complete the survey. This represents a success rate of 97%. All 59-study participants completed Sect ion II (MATE) of the survey. However, only 55 completed section III used to assess kno wledge of the theory of evolution. Only data from the 55 completed surveys were us ed in the analysis of interrelated factors between sections II and III. Because this study reflects almost a 100% of the biology teachers in the country, the results shoul d generalize to the target region. By implementing the instru ment in person, I was able to obtain a qualitativ e look at the state of evolution instruction in Belize. The results indicate that 55.9% of the respondents were females, 78% of respondents were between the ages of 21-39, while 71.9% were from urban schools compared to rural schools. 79. 7% of the respondents had at least a bachelor's degree, while 5% of the respondents only had a high school diploma. Teachers' areas of specialization included biol ogy, biology education, pre-m ed, chemistry, aquaculture engineering, zoology and natur al resource management. T here seems to be a high turnover rate at the high school level in Belize because over 70% of the respondents have ten years or less of teaching ex perience and 66.1% of the respondents have taught biology for less than five years. S ee Table 3-1. for more detailed demographic data on the respondents.
43 F1$/$9@+<*')>*%5P+6))*#&'()*+ $,+&>*+<>* $%@+$,+-.$/0&1$(+ ?/'551)'/+6('/@515+$,+=6<-+!(5&%0"*(&+ The first research question investigated the current level of acceptance of evolutionary theory am ong high school biology teachers in Belize. Of the fifty-nine teachers, thirty scored less than 70 point s on the acceptance scale. The results indic ate that for the MATE portion of survey, the averaged total score of the respondents was 64.4 out of 100 points (N = 59, SD = 18.3). This is an average of 3.2 for each individual item on the MATE, which falls between undecided and agree on the Likert scale (See Table 2-2 for group means and item means). The results indicate that the average total for the acceptance gr oup was 80.2 (N = 29, SD 7.9), which corresponds to an average score of 4.0. This group's average was representative of "Agree" on the Likert scale. The rejection group scored an average of 51.0 (N = 30, SD 11.8), which corresponds to an average score of 2.6 per item. This item falls between disagree and undecided but l eans more towards undecided. The data indicate significant differences between the aver age of scores of t he entire group of respondents, the Acceptance Group, and the Rejection group (K= 40.85, p < 0.001; See Figure 3-1). In general, a majo rity of the teachers have lo w levels of acceptance. These results are disheartening because non-acceptance has been linked to poor quality of instruction or even omissi on of topics from the curriculum. The questions that received the lowest le vels of acceptance from the respondent population as a whole were ques tion 6 (M = 2.9, SD 1.6) that dealt with the ambiguity of the data supporting evolutio n, question 15 (M = 2.9, SD 1.5) that dealt with human evolution, question 3 (M = 2.9, SD 1.5) which also dealt with human evolution, and question 2 (M = 3.0, SD 1.3) that dealt wit h whether evolution was testable (See Table
44 3-2). The lowest scores for the acceptance group were received by question 6 (M = 3.5, SD 1.0), question 11 (M = 3.6, SD 1.0) that dealt with the age of the earth, and question 2 (M = 3.6, SD 1.2). The lowest scores for the rejecti on group were question 3 (M = 1.8, SD 1.5), and question 15 (M =1.9, SD 1.2) These values all fall between disagree and strongly di sagree. Also, question 10 (M = 2.1, SD 0.9) that dealt with the scientific validity of evolution and question 14 (M = 2.1, SD 1.3) that dealt with evolution and the biblical account of creation scored valu es that indicate disagreement. The results suggest that teac hers are not convinced about the testability of the theory, and are unfamiliar with the vast amounts of data from a ll fields of science that are in support of the theory. Teachers are also in disagreement with human evolution and are undecided about the age of t he earth. According to self-reports, the primary cause of rejection is that evolut ion goes against the st ory of creation. There are no significant differences between the acceptance levels of rural and urban schoolteachers, males and females, or among groups with differing levels of academic preparation (e.g., A.A. B.A, M.S). This signifies that non-acceptance was spread throughout the country regardless of lo cation or level of education. There is, however, a significant difference in acceptanc e levels with increasing years of teaching experience in biology (K = 13.4, p < 0.01). Teachers who have taught biology for over ten years have significantly higher levels of acceptance of the theor y of evolution than those who are new in the field. Of the fifty -nine teachers in this study, 68% report that they do teach the theory of evolution, although ther e is much variation in the quality and quantity of instruction. So me teachers only introduce the topic in one class, while others teach it as a unit and still a few others claim to teach evolution as an overarching
45 theme in biology. Contrary to expectation, there is no signifi cant difference between the acceptance levels of those that do claim to teach the theory of ev olution and those that omit the theory from their curriculum. This is a troublesome finding because when teachers that do teach the concept have similar acceptance levels as those that reject the topic, the quality of evolution instruct ion is questionable, desultory and oftentimes presented to students as a controversial viewpoi nt that lacks scientifi c rigor. On a more positive note, there is a significant diffe rence between the acceptance scores of those that feel prepared to teach the theory of ev olution and those that feel unprepared (t = 2.25, p = 0.03). Thus, teacher confidence in teaching evolution can serve as an important predictor of acceptance of the theory of evoluti on. In this regard, teachers' confidence levels can be target ed there is hope of increasing teachers' affinity towards evolution. 3'5)>+6('/@515+$,+=6<-+!(5&%0"*(&+ The range of logits for the high school bi ology teachers was fr om 4.98 to -2.05. Item logits ranged from 0.39 to -0.54. The littl e variation in the item measures indicates that the instrument was reliable and accurate ly measured the level of acceptance of the theory of evolution. The items were we ll targeted to measure average level of acceptance by the population. However, some ceiling effects were present (e.g. teacher no. 33 who had almost a perfect ac ceptance score). The variable map in Figure 3-2. shows that teachers' ability levels were higher than the di fficulty of many of the items and thus the results can be interpre ted with reliability. Teacher nos. 08, 17, 32, 46 and 33 had the highest lev els of acceptanc e of evolutionary theory, while teacher nos. 13, 29, and 42 had the lowest levels of acceptance. The teachers with the highest levels of acceptance were mainly males with training in Biology and Biology Education.
46 The teachers with the lowest level of acc eptance were mainly females with undefined areas of specialization. Based on the item logits, the most difficult items were questions 2, 3, 6, and 15, which pertained to the scientific testability of the theory, modern hu mans as products of evolutionary processes, the ambiguity of data supporting evolution, and human evolution. These results of the Rasch Model are in acco rdance with the results from Likert Scale Analysis, which suggest that teachers reject statements pertaining to human evolution and the scientific validity of the theory of evolut ion. The easiest questions were questions 17 and 18 pertaining to the scientific community's acceptance of evolution, and evolution as an explanatio n for the biodiversity of life. Based on teachers' low acceptance levels and their belief that most sci entists accept the theory of evolution, there is a clear disconnect bet ween how scientists think and how teachers view science and its impact on the world. This brings to question the credibility teachers place on scientists and whether teachers are using well support ed information in the classroom. There were seven major misfitting case s in the Rasch model according to the calculated INFIT MNSQ (teachers nos. 5, 13, 23, 35, 41, and 44 and item nos. 19). Teacher nos. 13, 35, 41, and 44 as well as item 19 exceeded the recommended 1.6 MNSQ value, while teacher nos. 5 and 23 had extremely low MNSQ values of 0.18 and 0.26 (See Table 3-3). Because fit statistics ar e sensitive to a small sample sizes there is potential for misrepresentati on of the MNSQ values in our study. For this reason, no teacher or item was removed during additional data analysis.
47 Although teachers from urban high schools have higher ability levels than those from rural high schools, there is no signifi cant difference between the two groups (See Table 3-4). Similarly, males have higher logi t scores than females. In addition, teachers over the age of fifty have higher logit score s than those between the ages of 20 to 49. In this case, "higher ability levels" could be t he result of more years of experience or research on the part of older teachers com pared to novice teachers. Interestingly, teachers of indigenous backgrounds like Maya, Creole, Garifuna and Mestizo have high logit scores compared to teachers of Caucas ian background who have the lowest ability levels and acceptance levels of evolution. It is important to not e that the Caucasian teachers are from Mennonite communities and have affiliations with the United States. If the indigenous teachers are mo re accepting of the theory of evolution, there is hope that in the rural areas of the country, st udents are being given unbiased accounts of evolutionary theory. An unex pected finding was that teac hers with greater years of general and biology teaching experience have lower ability levels than novice teachers (See Table 3-4). Although the differences are non significant, the disparity could be the result of higher quality of biology education in more recent years. F1$/$9@+<*')>*%5P+8( 7*%5&'(71(9+$,+&>*+<>*$% @+$,+-.$/0&1$(+ High school biology teachers in Belize score d an average of 47.9 out of a 100% on the 21multiple-choice questions that tested teacher understanding of evolution. The scores for the entire population of respondents ranged from a 9.5% to 81.0%. Almost 15% of the teachers have extrem ely low levels of understanding of evolution, with some only answering two of the tw enty-one questions correctly. These very same teachers are responsible for providing accurate scientific information. By group, with an average of 52.4%, the acceptance gr oup scored 10.3% higher than the rejection group. The
48 rejection group only answered 42 .1% right. There is a si gnificant difference between the knowledge levels of t he Acceptance Group and the Rejection group using both parametric and non-parametric stat istics (t= -2.52, df=53, p = 0.015; U=244.5, p<0.05). Of interest is that although there is a si gnificant difference among the groups, both the rejection and the acceptance groups have low levels of understandi ng of evolution. These results were expected based on variati ons in training, teaching experience and limited resources. As a group, teacher knowledge levels are negatively skewed, with most teachers having knowledge levels below 70% (See Figur e 3-3). The majori ty of the teachers have knowledge levels between 30-50%, which I classified as having "Low" knowledge levels. No teachers were classified as bei ng extremely knowledg eable about the theory or evolution, while only 9% were classified as havi ng "High" knowledge levels. The questions that were answered mo st poorly across the entire group of respondents as well as within the acceptance and rejection groups were nos., 23, 24, 31, 32, 36, 37, 38, and 40 (S ee Table 3-5). These que stions pertained to the understanding of "deep time", mainly radioactive dating, age of the earth, theory of evolution, extinction, macroevolution, inte rmediate fossils, and natural selection. The most disconcerting find was that of all the topics addressed in the knowledge tests, the two topics that teachers knew the least about were: 1) the theory of evolution (See Q.24 in Table 3-6), and 2) the theory of natural selection (See Q. 40 in Table 3-6). These results are in accordance with previous studies, which found teachers to have inadequate understanding of the theory of evolution (Rut ledge & Warden, 2000), and natural selection (Demastes et al., 1992; Moore, 2000). Ov er 85% of the teachers
49 incorrectly responded to questions pertaining directly to these two topics. The distribution of responses for these two questions is provided in Table 3-6. Only 13.6% of the respondents correctly described the pr ocess of evolution as "the change of populations through time". A ma jority of the respondents descr ibed evolution as either the development of characteristics in response to need, the change of simple to complex organisms or the change of populations so lely in response to natural selection. With respect to natural selection, the re spondents were asked which description did not form part of Darwin's theory of natural sele ction. The overwhel ming majority of the population (55.9%) chose organi sms tend to over-reproduce t hemselves. Only 13.6% of the respondents chose the right response, "modifications an organism acquires during its lifetime can be passed to its offspr ing". This is the Lamarckian concept of evolution and clearly continues to be a ma jor misconception held by many educators even today (Demastes et al., 1995; Jensen & Finley, 1996; Smith et al., 1995; Zuzovsky, 1994). 3*/'&1$(5>1#+I*&4**(+6))*#&'()*+'(7+Q&>*%+,')&$%5+ The data indicate that the percentage of correct responses on the multiple-choice portion of the survey was positiv ely correlat ed with the score on the MATE portion of the instrument (rs = 0.153, p <0.05; Figure 3-4). Although only to a minor extent, teacher knowledge/understanding of evolution is correlat ed to teacher acceptance of the theory. There was no association between teacher s' age and acceptance of evolution or between the percentage of CXC standards adopted by teachers and their acceptance of evolution. There was a significant difference in acceptance and understanding of evolution between public and private schools. Teachers from public schools scored 14 points
50 higher on the acceptance scale and 10 point s higher on the knowledge scale than did teachers from private schools. Teachers from public schools with religious affiliations scored poorer than public schools without religious affiliations but higher than teachers from private institutio ns (See Figure 3-5). Although there was no significant co rrelation between % of CSEC Biology Syllabus incorporated by t eachers and their acceptance of evolution, there is an increase in the acceptance and undertanding of evolution with increasing use of the CSEC Biology Syllabus (See Figure 3-6). This suggests that adhering to the CSEC Biology Syllabus is better than not adhering to it at all. A majority of the high school biology t eachers (i.e. 58%) feel unprepared to teach the theory of evolution. In general, teachers who feel prepar ed to teach evolution have higher acceptance and knowledge levels than those that feel ill prepared to teach its concepts (Figure 3-7). Although teachers w ho claim to be adequately prepared to teach evolution scored 10 points hi gher than those who feel unpr epared in terms of both acceptance and knowledge levels, the differenc es between the groups are insignificant. Q0&7'&*7+:&'(7'%75+'(7+:&'(7'%71;*7+<*5&5+ The current CXC biology syllabus (2004) is divided into five sections lettered A through E: A) Living organi sms and the environment; B) Life processes; C) Continuity and variation* ; D) Disease and its impact on humans; and E) Environment and human activities. Of the five secti ons, only section C briefly intr oduces the theory of evolution (See Table 3-7). Although one of the main objec tives of this section is to have students "demonstrate an understanding of the importance of genetic variation in species and how these traits can be altered," there is little mention of natural selection, mutation, migration or conservation. Having stat e standards that include evolution but omit
51 questions related to the topic in local and regional examinations presents a hurdle for evolution education. In Belize, poor sci ence standards pertaining to the theory of evolution are accompanied by a poor representation of evolution in the annual Biology CSEC examination. As seen in Table 38, only two questions on average (7% of the entire assessment) pertain to t he theory of evolution. Alt hough other test questions may indirectly pertain to the theory of evol ution, students' poor performance on the standardized test indicate that they have ye t to make the necessary transition from viewing evolution as an indepe ndent theme to viewing it is the underlying theme behind all life processes (CXC Report 2008). The 2008 report from CXC f ound that 47% students hav e limited knowledge about fundamental concepts and principles about bi ological phenomena. The mean student performance on the exam was 53%. Topics t hat were most probl ematic for students included: natural and artificial selection, bi ological control and dise ase, and evolution. For example, students failed to associat e the term "organism" with both plants and animals. Students also failed to understand that genetic engineering occurs at the subcellular level and that genes of all living organisms have a universal structure. Students are unclear about how organisms develop "i mmunity" and how this relates to evolutionary processes. Another common misconcept ion among students is that antibiotics are used to treat any or every type of disease, even those causes by viruses. The presence of these misconceptions indicate s that evolution is poorly addressed in high school biology courses. R$1)*5+$,+<*')>*%5+ This section of the results is based on 1) discussions with teachers held after the completion of the survey and 2) responses on the open-ended questions in section IV of
52 the survey instrument. Numerous teacher s felt the need to express their personal concerns about the teaching of evolution post-survey completion. One teacher claimed that the theory "is just a t heory", and that "there is no scient ific evidence to support its concepts". Such viewpoints speak the low level of understanding shared by the teacher population. Three teachers admitted that thei r religious beliefs and devotions prevent them from addressing evolution in the classroom. Because less than 15% of the target population provided personal opinions post-su rvey completion, these three teachers represent an underestimate of the actual number of teacher s who experience personal conflicts between religious beliefs and the t eaching of evolution. In cases where conflicted teachers do present ev olution, it is presented as one viewpoint in addition to the story of creation. Although only four teachers attest that the content dictated by the CXC biology syllabus is the most important determinant for what they teach in the classroom, at least 81% of teachers align their instruction with this syllabus in hopes of adequately preparing their students for the CSEC biology exam (See Q.42 from survey instrument, Appendix E). Specifically, 70% biology teachers adopt at le ast 90% of these standards as their biology curriculum. Thus, if a topi c is not included in t he syllabus, there is a high probability that it will not make it into the classroom. Similar to the situation in the United States, teachers in Beliz e state that their primary goal is for students to do well on the externally mandated tests. Students' performance on t hese tests is often viewed as a measure of teacher competency and can play a major role in the re-hiring process. As a result, curricular decisions are guided by teachers' sense of accountability for preparing students to do well on those exams (Goldston & Kyzer, 2009).
53 Although most teachers adhere to the CXC sy llabus, they confess that there is insufficient time to cover all its prescribed unit s. Of importance to th is study is that the theory of evolution is only briefly cover ed in the CSEC biology examinations as indicated by its negligible presence in the syllabus and the vignettes offered by teachers. As a result, teacher s limit evolution instruction to only what is required by the regional standards. Oftent imes, a brief introduction to the topic or a couple definitions seemed to suffice because of the test r equirement. And even when evolution is required by the regional standards, there is the additional obstacle of teacher preference and conflicting beliefs. Topics that are not accepted by some teachers fail to make it into the classroom even if they are mandated by the regional standards. Still, one benefit of having great science standards pertain ing to evolution is that they provide those teachers who do want to teach evoluti on with the guidance and justification to do so (Donnelly & Boone, 2007; Moore, 2002). When asked, "To what extent should we care about evoluti on?" 51 % of teachers responded favorably, while 29% were totally against it and 20% were undecided. The variation and contradiction in teachers' responses speaks to their personal conflicts, confusion, and lack of understanding of the topic. While t he majority claim that we should care to a great extent, many suggest t hat the topic is unimportant and irrelevant to everyday life and as such deserves less cl ass time. Advocates for the theory of evolution claim it allows us to: 1) "be mo re aware of our surroundings", 2) "appreciate nature and changing environments", 3) "better understand ecology, anatomy and physiology" and 4) "allows us to obtain a dee per understanding of biology as a whole". Those against the theory of ev olution state that: 1) "evolu tion is not true" 2) "nothing
54 good has come out of the theory of evolution", 3) "we should not care unless it starts to affect our daily lives, 4) "we shouldn't care mu ch if we believe in Creation", and 5) "It is treated as factual in books but it is just an opinion". The statement We shouldn't care about evolution none whatsoever because there is a Creator. However, I do believe in adaptations to changing environments", provides a perfect example of teachers' convoluted ideas on the topic. As evidenced by their responses in Secti on IV of the survey, teachers' views on the importance of evolution vary markedly from teacher to teacher. This overall sense of uncertainty is an indication that teacher education and reeducation pertaining to the topic of evolution is necessary to achiev e a comprehensive understanding of the topic.
55 Table 3-1. Demographic dat a including distribution by sex, age, school location, ethnicity/race, academic preparation and t eaching experience for the fifty-nine teachers that participated in the study. N % Location of School Rural Urban 17 42 28.1 71.9 Sex M F 26 33 44.1 55.9 Age 21-29 30-39 40-49 >50 N/A 25 21 6 5 2 42.4 35.6 10.2 8.5 3.4 Ethnicity/Race African Caucasian Creole East Indian Garifuna Maya Mestizo Other/Mixed 2 2 14 1 3 2 30 5 3.4 3.4 23.7 1.7 5.1 3.4 50.8 8.5 Academic Preparation High School Associates Bachelors Masters N/A 3 8 40 7 1 5.1 13.5 67.8 11.9 1.7 Years of Teaching Experience 0-2 3-5 6-10 11-20 >20 12 15 15 11 6 20.3 25.4 25.4 18.6 10.2 Years of Teaching Biology 0-2 3-5 6-10 11-20 >20 22 17 9 8 3 37.3 28.8 15.3 13.6 5.1
56 Table 3-2. The mean score and standard deviati on per question of the MATE responses for the entire group of respondents, t he Acceptance Group and the Rejection Group. Asterisks (*) denote items that we re more widely accepted. Triangles ( ) represent least accepted items. Entire group of Respondents (n=59) Acceptance Group (n=29) Rejection Group (n=30) Item # Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD 1 3.44* 1.61 4.72* 0.45 2.20 1.32 2 3.00 1.31 3.62 1.24 2.40 1.10 3 2.92 1.56 4.03 1.05 1.83 1.50 4 3.17 1.32 4.07 0.80 2.30 1.12 5 3.83* 0.79 4.17 0.60 3.50* 0.82 6 2.90 1.14 3.45 0.99 3.37* 1.03 7 3.46 1.33 4.03 1.05 2.90 1.35 8 3.36 1.21 4.10 0.62 2.63 1.22 9 3.59* 1.23 4.24 0.87 2.97 1.22 10 3.08 1.32 4.07 0.92 2.13 0.86 11 3.05 1.09 3.55 0.95 2.57 1.01 12 3.32 1.14 3.86 0.88 2.80 1.13 13 3.29 1.08 3.72 0.70 2.87 1.22 14 3.10 1.43 4.10 0.77 2.13 1.25 15 2.90 1.51 3.93 1.00 1.90 1.21 16 3.27 1.32 4.07 0.65 2.50 1.36 17 3.64* 0.85 4.07 0.70 2.23 0.77 18 3.61* 1.25 4.48* 0.51 2.77 1.17 19 3.20 1.26 3.66 1.04 2.77 1.30 20 3.22 1.35 4.24* 0.64 2.23 1.10 Average 3.27 1.25 4.01 0.82 2.55 1.14
57 Table 3-3. Logit and INFIT MNSQ values for items and teachers obtained from the Rasch Model. Items or persons with INFI T MNSQ values outside the range of 0.6 to 1.4 are questionable. (**) indica te items or persons with misfitting MNSQ values that are too high. (*) i ndicate values that are too low. Item Teacher No. Logits INFIT MNSQ No. Logits INFIT MNSQ No. Logits INFIT MNSQ No. Logits INFIT MNS 1 -0.16 0.39 1 0.91 0.22 21 0.06 0.78 41 1.86 3.06** 2 0.35 1.37 2 -1.18 1055 1.57 22 -1.18 0.48 42 -1.93 1.38 3 0.35 0.65 3 0.55 0.28 23 0.99 0.18* 43 -0.94 0.65 4 0.16 1.05 4 0.99 1.16 24 0.32 0.56 44 0.91 2.45** 5 -0.32 1.17 5 -0.04 0.26* 25 1.27 1.12 45 0.32 0.47 6 0.34 1.32 6 -1.05 1.26 26 -0.54 1.49 46 2.9 1.63 7 -0.33 1.16 7 0.16 0.55 27 -0.54 0.89 47 -0.68 1.06 8 0.02 0.86 8 2.68 1.77 28 0.16 1.16 48 -0.68 0.91 9 0.46 1.06 9 0.55 0.85 29 -2.05 0.49 49 -0.58 1.25 10 0.17 0.69 10 -0.63 0.72 30 0.26 0.34 50 -1.24 1.22 11 0.19 1.22 11 0.01 0.93 31 1.08 1.21 51 0.83 0.48 12 0.01 1.09 12 -0.04 0.89 32 2.9 1.56 52 -0.13 1.32 13 0.09 1.21 13 -1.38 2.21** 33 4.98 1.00 53 0.55 0.75 14 0.20 0.80 14 0.06 1.15 34 0.55 0.50 54 0.55 1.98 15 0.39 0.74 15 0.43 1.25 35 -1.24 2.02**55 -0.68 0.37 16 0.03 0.91 16 0.83 1.39 36 0.76 0.64 56 0.83 0.42 17 -0.54 1.22 17 2.9 1.17 37 -0.17 0.69 57 0.06 0.71 18 -0.51 0.55 18 0.68 0.44 38 -0.94 0.32 58 1.08 0.36 19 -0.07 1.65** 19 -0.94 1.86 39 0.91 0.36 59 1.08 1.00 20 0.09 0.66 20 0.43 1.18 40 -1.24 1.11
58 Table 3-4. Logit scores for teacher abilities according to location, sex, age, ethnicity, and area of specialization. None of t he differences among the groups are significant at an alpha level of 0.05. Mean Logit Score S.D. Location Rural Urban -0.03 0.40 1.32 1.26 Sex M F 0.35 0.20 0.95 1.66 Age 21-29 30-39 40-49 >50 0.00 0.41 -0.58 + 1.06 0.94 1.17 0.58 2.32 Ethnicity Caucasian Creole Garifuna Maya Mestizo Other/Mixed East Indian African/Jamaican -1.31 0.49 0.48 + 0.69 + 0.48 -0.61 0.88 1.22 0.69 0.19 1.36 0.96 Academic Qualification High School Associates Bachelors Masters 1.39 -0.46 0.43 -0.36 1.33 0.99 1.32 0.78 Years of Teaching Experience 0-2 3-5 6-10 11-20 >20 0.05 0.61 0.83 -0.31 -0.41 1.17 1.35 1.44 0.91 0.83 Years of Teaching Biology 0-2 3-5 6-10 11-20 >20 0.23 0.86 0.12 -0.21 -0.93 1.39 1.40 0.80 0.89 0.25
59 Table 3-5. The ranks of the multiple-choice questions testing evolutionary knowledge for the entire group, the Acceptance Group, and the Rejection Group. Entire Group of Respondents Acce ptance Group Rejection Group Rank Item % Correct Rank Item % Correct Rank Item % Correct 1 35 81.4 1 35 96.6 1 26 73.3 2 26 79.7 2 26 86.2 2 35 66.7 3 25 64.4 3 28 82.8 3 29 63.3 4 29 62.7 4 25 72.4 4 25 56.7 5 28 59.3 5 27 65.5 5 27 46.7 6 27 55.9 6 21 62.1 6 41 43.3 7 21 50.8 6 29 62.1 7 21 40.0 8 30 49.2 8 22 58.6 7 30 40.0 8 34 49.2 8 30 58.6 7 33 40.0 10 22 47.5 8 34 58.6 7 34 40.0 10 41 47.5 11 31 55.2 11 22 36.7 12 31 44.1 12 32 51.7 11 28 36.7 13 32 40.7 12 39 51.7 13 31 33.3 13 39 40.7 12 41 51.7 14 32 30.0 15 33 39.0 15 37 44.8 14 37 30.0 16 37 37.3 16 33 37.9 14 39 30.0 16 38 37.3 17 23 34.5 17 23 20.0 18 23 27.1 18 36 24.1 18 36 16.7 19 36 20.3 19 24 20.7 19 38 10.0 20 24 13.6 20 40 17.2 19 40 10.0 20 40 13.6 21 38 10.3 21 24 6.7
60 Table 3-6. Teacher responses to the multip le-choice items pertaining to the knowledge of evolutionary theory. (* Denotes correct response). Question % 23. Using radioactive dating techniques, the first life seems to have appeared on the earth about: a. 10 thousand years ago b. 270 million years ago c. 3.3 billion years ago d. 4.5 million years ago e. 10 billion years ago No Answer 5.1 1.7 6.8* 20.3 13.6 32.2 24. Which of the following phrases best describes the process of evolution? a. The development of man from monkey-life ancestors b. The change of simple to complex organisms c. The development of characteristics in response to need d. The change of populations through time e. The change of populations solely in response to natural selection No Answer 1.7 23.7 32.2 13.6* 23.7 5.1 36. The extinct species Archaeopteryx has characteristics of both birds and reptiles. This is an example of a(n): a. Convergent species b. Trace fossil c. Archetype d. Intermediate form e. Polymorphic species No Answer 18.6 5.1 8.5 20.3* 25.4 22.0 38. Radiometric dating techniques rely on the fact that: a. The bony portions of organisms decompose at known rate b. Organisms which lived earlier in time will tend to be found in sediments below organisms which lived more recently c. The magnetic field of the earth has reversed its polarity at the known time intervals in geologic time d. The earth contains elements which change into other elements at a constant rate e. During the decomposition process organic matter is converted into radioactive elements at a known rate No Answer 8.5 11.9 5.1 10.2 37.3* 27.1 40. Which of the following is not a part of Darwin's theory of natural selection? a. Individuals of a population vary b. Organisms tend to over-reproduce themselves c. There are limited resources for which individuals compete d. Modifications an organism acquire s during its lifetime can be passed to its offspring e. Variations possessed by individuals of a population are heritable No Answer 5.1 55.9 8.5 13.6* 5.1 11.9
61 Table 3-7. Description of the five sections that comprise the 2004 CXC biology syllabus. Numbers in brackets indicate the suggested number of weeks needed to teach each section. Note that the c ontent in the CXC syllabus is to be covered over two academic years (11 th and 12 th grade). Numbers in brackets next to each section indicate the number of weeks teachers should expect to spend on each section. Section A (5) Section B (40) Section C (10) Section D (3) Section E (7) Living Organisms and the Environment Life Processes Continuity and Variation Disease and its Impact on Humans Environment and Human Activities food chain food webs symbiotic relationships energy flow cell structure (plant and animal) nutrition photosynthesis systems (respiratory, skeletal, nervous, circulatory, excretory, digestive) sexual and asexual reproduction pollination, germination mitosis meiosis chromosome, DNA, gene, allele, inheritance, genetic engineering disease types, treatment, control vectors, pathogens sexually transmitted diseases immune system social and economic implications environment population limiting resources recycling pollution human impact +
62 Table 3-8. Test questions pertaining to the theory of evolution included in CSEC biology examinations for t he years 2000-2007. Both mandatory and optional questions are presented in this table. Test questions for the year 2006 were unavailable. Test questions for the y ear 2008 were transcribed from the CXC 2008 report. Year Biology CSEC questions pertaining to the theory of evolution 2000 none 2001 1. What is meant by the term homologous? 2. Sometimes in nature there is an unexpected change in the genes or in a chromosome. What is this change called? 3. Genes on a chromosome can also be changed by genetic engineering. Suggest TWO differences between this process and natural selection. 4. People now eat food crops grown from seeds, which had their genes changed by genetic engineering. Suggest TWO unintentional outcomes of using this process in food crops. 2002 1. State TWO possible effects on the rest of the ecosystem if the birds were removed from the forest. 2. What are the causes of variation within a population? ( optional ) 3. Many organisms, such as snails and insects have colors, which are similar to the colors of their regular habitats. Explain how mutations and natural selection could have contributed to this fact. ( optional ) 4. Man seems to be losing the war against pests as new pesticides remain effective only for a short time. (i) Explain why this may be so. (ii) How has man used his knowledge of natural selection to deal with this problem? Explain your answer fully. ( optional ) 2003 1. What is the long-term effect of asexual reproduction for a species? 2. In developed countries like the United States, genetic engineering methods are being used to fight plant diseases and improve agricultural products. (i) Use your knowledge of Biology to explain TWO reasons why there is a growing emphasis on manipulating genes. (ii) Suggest TWO possible disadvantages for regions like the Caribbean, if this trend continues. ( optional ) 2004 1. In many societies, men are disappointed when they have too many female offspring and they tend to blame their partners. Use your biological knowledge to explain why this is an unreasonable position to take. ( optional ) 2. It may one day be possible to use genetic engineering methods to remove a defective gene (for example, the sickle cell gene) from a zygote or gamete and replace it with a normal gene. What might be the advantages of developing this technique instead of trying to develop better treatments for genetic diseases? ( Optional ) 3. In the future, parents may be able to select certa in characteristics that they want their offspring to have and have the appropriate genes inserted into the chromosomes of the embryo. Suggest ONE advantage and ONE disadvantage of this possibility? ( optional ) 2006 1. Why is genetic variation important? 2. 'Monocropping'planting of the same type of plants over an extensive areais sometimes considered risky because of the lack of genetic variation. Ex plain why this practice may be considered risky. 3. Besides introducing new species, human activities also affect the natural environment in other ways. For example, many Caribbean coral reefs have been damaged by human activities. (i) Describe TWO ways in which human activity destroys coral reef s. (ii) Suggest the implications of the coral reef destruction described above. ( Optional ) 2007 1. Suggest TWO reasons why sugarcane farmers tend to choose a single variety for their crops. ( Optional ) 2008 1. Label the process of meiosis. 2. Define the term genetic engineering' and provide an advantages and a disadvantage of GMOs. 3. Explain how the body defends itself against disease. State two biological and two social implications or the misuse of antibiotics.
63 Figure 3-1. Mean acceptance sco res for the Acceptance, Rejection and Entire group of respondents based on the sum of scores on the MATE instrument.
64 Figure 3-2. Person/Item Case Map for t he Rasch Analysis of MATE Scores. P ersons MAP It ems
65 Figure 3-3. Teacher knowledge on evolution based on scores on the 21-multiple choice items in Section III of the survey instrument. Total N=55. Scores range between 0 and 100 percent. Extremely Low (<30%); Low (30-49%); Moderate knowledge (50-69%); High (70-84 %), Extremely High (>85%). Figure 3-4. A comparison of biology teacher s' scores Knowledge Scores plotted against MATE/Acceptance Scores.
66 Figure 3-5. A comparison of biology teac hers' Acceptance and Knowledge Scores for Public and Private high schools. Figure 3-6. A comparison of biology teac hers' Acceptance and Knowledge Scores plotted against the % of CSEC Bi ology Syllabus used by teachers.
67 Figure 3-7. Mean Acceptance/MATE Score and Knowledge Score for teachers who feel prepared to teach evolution (N=23) and teachers who do not feel prepared (N=32).
68 CHAPTER 4 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS This study investigated the current le vel of accept ance and understanding of the theory of evolution among high school biolog y teachers in Belize. It was hypothesized that the majority of respondents would have extremely low levels of both acceptance and understanding. Based on the literature and similar studies in the United States (See Troost, 1966; Shankar & Skoog, 1993; Agui llard, 1999), it was predicted that teachers with higher levels of education, particularly in larger urban, public schools, would exhibit greater levels of acceptanc e and knowledge of evolutionary theory. The results indicate that even though less than 49% of teachers in Belize accept the theory of evolution, the entire population exhibits a poor understanding of the theory and its related concepts. Teachers mean acc eptance level was 64.4 out of 100 points. Because a majority of the teachers either re ject or are undecided about evolution there is room for improvement. Tackling teachers' misconceptions is imperative, especially when most teachers admit to teaching for c ontent purposes, and have little time to instill deeper understandings and connections between t he subject matter and everyday life There is a complex relationship between acceptance and understanding of evolution. While some studies have sugges ted a positive correlation between the two (Fahrenwald, 1999; Rutledge & Warden, 2000; Deniz et al., 2008), others have found no relationship (e.g. Brem et al., 2003). In this study, ther e was a significant correlation between the acceptance and und erstanding of evolutionary theory held by high school biology teachers in Belize. The correlation test, however, accounts for only 15% of the association suggesting that the factors that contribute to t he acceptance of evolutionary theory are complex and cannot be attributed to a single factor such as knowledge of
69 evolutionary theory. The generalized assump tion that an increase in understanding of evolution leads to an increase in acceptance of the theory is a gross oversimplification. Although this relationship has been support ed in some studies, there are numerous extraneous variables that can influence acce ptance of the theory of evolution and these may vary across countries, and cultures. It was expected that because developi ng countries have different content requirements than the United St ates, teachers with only high school or associate level degrees would have extremely high levels of non-acceptanc e. Previous studies have shown that teachers who take more c ourses on evolution (i.e. higher academic preparation) spend more time teaching the subject and doing a better job at teaching (Aguillar, 1999; Rutledge & Mitchell, 2002). Cont rary to expectations, the variations in teacher preparation and qualifications in Belize did not influence the acceptance of evolution, i.e. teac hers with Masters degrees do not accept the theory of evolution any more than teachers who have only a high school diploma or an associate's degree. I speculate that in addition to teacher prepar ation, culture, religious beliefs, and/or parents' educational background contribute to teachers' a cceptance of the theory of evolution. Future studies should investigate whether t hese socio-cultural factors influence teacher acceptance and understanding of the theory of evolution across social, political and cultural barriers. Interestingly, teachers of indige nous backgrounds like Maya had higher acceptance towards evolution than the remain ing ethnic groups particularly Caucasians and East Indians. Among the entire group of respondents, the most controversial and rejected items were: 1) the am biguity of the data supporting the theory of evolution, 2)
70 the testable nature of evolutio n, and 3) human evolution. Pr oviding evidence to support the testable nature of evolut ion will be much easier than addressing the issues of human evolution. Although some studies adv ocate the use of hum an evolution as the central theme behind the teac hing evolution (Besterman & Baggott la Velle, 2007), the results of this study suggest that most biology teachers have strong issues against human evolution. Although evolution could be addressed using human evolution as the primary evidence, there is a huge risk of offending and alienating various teachers before we get our message across. Because teachers had higher ability levels compared to item difficulties it was expected that they perform well on the acceptance test. This was not the case as teachers' acceptance level of evoluti on was weak across the entire population regardless of sex, academic pr eparation or whether or not evolution was taught. In addition, teachers who claim to teach evolution did not have higher levels of acceptance compared to those teachers who do not accept the theory. This unsettling result suggests that claiming to teach evolution is not enough. It is the concepts that are taught and how they are taught in relationship to other areas in biology that is important. Previous studies have found that the teaching of evolution is influenced by a complex set of factors including: textbooks, tests, cu rricula, religious beliefs, and acceptance or rejection of evolution (Lerner, 2000; Moore, 2002). In this study, school affiliations played a role in teacher acceptance with teachers from public schools have higher acceptance than those from public schools with religious affiliations and private schools. One of the two factor s that contributed to an incr ease in acceptance among high school teachers in Belize was teaching expe rience in biology. Teachers with ten years
71 of more of teaching experience in biology ha ve significantly higher levels of acceptance than those who recently entered the classroo m. Such correlation has huge implications for the future of evolution instruction in Be lize and in other countries where teachers are hired on a year-by-year basis and w hose job depends on student performance on standardized tests. If our goal is to prep are students for life, then we need to allow teachers the time and flexibility to engage in research and other experiences that promote a deeper understandi ng of the content they are re sponsible for teaching. In addition, teachers should be encouraged to fam iliarize themselves with the nature of science if they are to fully comprehend the comp lexity of scientific processes. Future research on teachers' epistemological view s of science may help clarify if teachers genuinely have low acceptance levels of evolution or simply have an inadequate understanding of the nature of science, as has been suggested in other studies (See Abd-El Kahlick & Lederman, 2000a). This study concludes that, in general, teachers have inadequate levels of knowledge about the theory of ev olution. Specifically, t eachers have a poor grasp of "deep time". By failing to appreciate the im portance of geological processes, the fossil record and macroevolution, teachers limit th eir understanding of historical biology and its relevance to the modern world (Catley & Novick, 2009). With teachers scoring as low as 9% on the knowledge test, there is room for much improvement. Most surprisingly, teachers were unable to correct ly define the theory of evolution and to distinguish among the processes that contribute to natural se lection. There results are noteworthy because teachers cannot teach the theory of evolutio n effectively if they lack a basic understanding of its c oncepts including natural sele ction, the driving force
72 behind evolution. Along with mutation, gene flow, genetic drift, and macroevolution, natural selection is one of the most important concepts required for a comprehensive understanding of the theory of evolution. The results of this study reveal the many hurdles in evolution education in Belize. As such, they pr ovide significant support for the proper education of pre-service teachers and the reeducation of in-service teachers. As predicted, evolution plays only a minor role in the regional science standards and standardized tests in the Caribbean. Compared to the United States, where nationwide, state standards for teaching evolution average a gr ade of C, or satisfactory, (Lerner, 2000), Belize's science standards as it pertains to evolution average a D at best. Because most teachers in Belize subscribe to the mandated biology curriculum by CXC, evolution instruction is often limited to a brief introduction of the topic. Teachers' personal views and preconceptions as well as their low levels of acceptance and understanding of the concepts they are responsible for teaching further diminish the role of evolution as a unifying theme in the cl assroom. Although non-significant, there is an increase in the acceptance and undertanding of the theory of evolution with increasing use of the CSEC Biology syllabus (See Figure 3-6). This is even more reason for science educators and officials in the regi on to re-evaluate the goals of the CSEC biology standards so they pertain to evoluti onary concepts as they relate to the many fields of science. If we are to improve t he status of evolution education, we need to continue to emphasize to teachers that biol ogy cannot be taught effectively without the inclusion of its unifying them e: the theory of evolution.
73 CHAPTER 5 IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The findings of this study have implications for policy practice and research. The results of this study suggest that there is an urgent need for the re-education of inservice teachers in Belize as it pertains to the theory of evolution. From a regional standpoint, these findings can help officials determine what resources teachers in the region, particularly those who subscribe to CXC standards, need in order to effectively teach the theory of evolution at the high school level. It is recommended that regional examination boards and scienc e departments set adequate standards for the teaching of evolution in the classroom. By including evolution as an in tegral part of the regional examinations, they ensure t hat a majority of the teacher s will cover the content matter even though they may reject the theory. In stead of revising the CSEC standards every five years, the Caribbean Exam ination Council should consi der integrating evolution in all areas of the CSEC Biology Syllabus. Th is would be more effective than modifying the standards or the format of the exam more frequently. The goals, content, and test material should be modified to incorporate evol ution in a form that is relevant to both teachers and students so they are able to ma ke connections among topics. Currently, the sections in the CSEC biology syllabus are disjointed and need to be taught from an interrelated standpoint. Evolution is more than a micro-level process. Although evolution is key for the expl anation of DNA, cell division, and genetic engineering, it also has a place in the explanation of food webs, energy flow, cell structure, photosynthesis, reproduction, pollination, disease transmission, and the impact of humans on the environment (Sections A-E in the CSEC Syllabus). Thus, evolution indirectly forms part of all five sections of the CSEC biology syllabus, and should not be restricted to only
74 Section C: Continuity and Variation (See Table 3-7). The isolation of the topic fosters more misconceptions by failing to make connections to the rest of the topics in biology. Because evolution is central to the understanding of biology, I advocate that its concepts be embedded within other topics such as ec ology, genetics and conservation. Without an appreciation of evolution as an overarchi ng theme in biology, lessons are limited to content with little relevance to everyday life. We need to bridge that gap between scientists, and the teaching community. Although 68% of the teachers feel satisfied with the treatment of evolution in their biology textbooks, 58% of high school biolog y teachers in Belize feel unprepared to teach the theory of evolution. This presents a meaningful opportunity for professional development programs and workshops that will address teachers' misconceptions about the topic. Understanding wh at teachers need to be more comfortable and confident about teaching its concepts can have positive imp lications for future effective teachers. These professional development programs should include a "misconception profile" that includes all the poorly answered questions fr om the survey instrument used in this study. These topics can be used to develop effe ctive teaching strategi es that will foster a deeper understanding of the topic among teacher s. These professional development programs should seek to include multiple te aching strategies, including discussion, historical underpinnings ( Clark & Brown, 1996) and problem solving in addition to content presentation to ta rget teachers' low acceptance and understanding of evolutionary content. The goal of thes e workshops should be to 1) clarify misconceptions, particularly those pertaini ng to macroevolutionary processes and 2) help teachers master how to think critically and scientifically about the nature of science.
75 To fully comprehend the centrality of ev olution teachers need to understand numerous fields including paleontology, biogeography, molecular biology, genetics, and developmental biology (Mayr 2002, pp 12-39). Given that acceptance and understanding in crease as the teachers' years of experience in the biology classroom increas e, it is recommended that teachers make use of reliable outside resources such as books, journals, and websites intended to increase their knowledge of the theory of evolution. Griffi th & Brem, (2004) showed that the teachers who taught the t heory of evolution more effectively were the ones who possessed the most up to date information. Ho wever, this endeavor is difficult to ask of teachers who are already swamped with so many job responsibilities. In addition, leaving the research and self-training up to teachers may prove problematic if their preconceptions or beliefs are strongly against the teaching of evol ution. Regional officials and science department heads shou ld spearhead and encourage research and the use of reliable support documents. As continuous learners, it is important that teachers build on their knowledg e of factual information pertaining to evolution so they provide unbiased accounts of the topic. Failure to do so results in limited conceptions of what it means to be a teacher (Anderson, 2007).
76 APPENDIX A DEFINITION OF TERMS CARIBBEAN EXAMINATION COUNCIL (CXC). An educational governing body that was established in 1972 by severa l participating gove rnments across the Caribbean to conduct exami nations and set regional st andards, with the purpose of making curriculum more relevant to the needs of the Ca ribbean rather than those imposed by the British Education, GCE. The standardized tests from CXC are designed to test students' knowledge in specific subject areas at the secondary and tertiary levels of education ( www.cxc.org ). CARIB BEAN SECONDARY EXAMINATION CERTIFICATE (CSEC). An examination offered by CXC, which recognizes a level of proficiency in various subjects historically bench-mark ed with secondary level education. The examination is taken at the end of 12th grade and is used to evaluate student knowledge against peers across the region (www.cxc.org). CSEC BIOLOGY EXAMINATION Although not mandatory, this 12th grade examination is very popular among high school students pl anning to pursue higher education in Belize and/or the Caribbean. The exam is spilt into four sections. Paper 01 is a multiple-choice, Paper 02 is comprised of structured questions, and Paper 03 contains essay questions. A laboratory component known as the standard based assessment (SBA) also cont ributes to the overall score on the examination. As of 2008, the format of the exam was changed resulting in the merging of Paper 02 and Paper 03. Unlike previous years, all questions in the exam are now mandator y (www.cxc.org). THEORY OF EVOLUTION. This term refers to bi ological evolution. Biological evolution is defined as the change of alle les or trait frequen cy in a population due to natural selection, mutation, gene flow or genetic drift (Futuyama, 1998). The National Academy of Sciences [NAS] defines evolution as "Change in the hereditary characteristics of groups of organisms. (Darwin referred to it as descent with modification')" (p.13). NATURAL SELECTION A key process of the theory of evolution, along with mutation, gene flow and genetic drift in which organisms with heritable traits that are better suited to their environments have greater reproductive success, therefore increasing the fr equency of favorable traits in a population (Futuyama, 1998; WGBH Educational Foundation, 2001). SCIENCE A way of knowing about the natur al world based on observations and experiments that can be confirmed or disproved by other scientists using scientifically accepted techniques" (W GBH Educational Foundation, 2001). THEORY In vernacular English, the definitio n of a theory is often something that is unproven or assumed. However, in science, a theory is defined as "a well
77 sustained explanation of some aspect of the natural wo rld that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and test ed hypotheses" (NAS, 198, p.5). HIGH SCHOOL. Grades 9-12. In Beliz e these are referred to as Form I-IV.
78 APPENDIX B UF-IRB SUBMISSION 8O!3F+ST+U+:$)1'/+V+F*>'.1$%'/+3*5*'%)>+ J%$&$)$/+:0I"1551$(+ <1&/*+$,+J%$&$)$/W+:"'//+?$0(&%@X+F19+ !"#/1)'&1$(5W+<>*+3$/*+$,+<*')>*%+ 6))*#&'()*+'(7+8(7*%5&'(71(9+1(+:>'#1 (9+-.$/0&1$(+!(5&%0)&1$(+1(+F*/1;*Y+ + 8O!3F+ZTSS[H8HSS[\+ + J%1()1#'/+!(.*5&19'&$%W++-/.15+D0(*;+8O!L+ZW+\]^_+`aSS+ L*9%**+N+<1&/*W+ Masters in Zoology with a minor in Education + L*#'%&"*(&Wb$$/$9@NR*%&*I%'&*++++ J'/*$(&$/$9@+ + ='1/1(9+677%*55W++++ 218 Dickinson Hall, Museum Road & Newell Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611 + -"'1/+677%*55+V+<*/*#>$(*+D0"I*%W++++ email@example.com 808 854 5436 ?$H!(.*5&19'&$%c5dW+D$(*+ + 8O!L+ZW+++ :0#*%.15$%W+L%Y+F%0)*+=')O'77*(+ + 8O!L+ZW+_\^SHSaSS+ + L*9%**+N+<1&/*W+J>YLYN?0%'&$%+$,+O2=DB+ + L*#'%&"*(&W+J%$,*55$%+$,+b$$/$9@+'(7+ e*$/$91)'/+:)1*()*5+ ='1/1(9+677%*55W+ 218 DICKINSON HALL GAINESVILLE FL US 32611-7800 + + -"'1/+677%*55+V+<*/*#>$(*+D0"I*%W+ firstname.lastname@example.org ^]T+T\^+_ [^\+ L'&*+$,+J%$#$5*7+3*5*'%)>W+='%)>X+TSS[+ + :$0%)*+$,+O0(71(9+ (A copy of the grant proposal must be submitted with this protocol if funding is involved): Personal Funding :)1*(&1,1)+J0%#$5*+$,+&>*+:&07@W+ 1) To investigate the current level of acceptance and understanding of evolutionary theory among high school biology teachers in Belize? 2) To investigate the level of evolutionary content depicted in the local (classroom) and regional (Caribbean) high school science standards?
79 L*5)%1I*+&>*+3*5*'%)>+=*&>$7$/$9@+1(+D$(H<*)>(1)'/+2'(90'9*W++ ( Explain what will be done with or to the research participant. ) Official letters announcing the study will be sent by both email and regular mail to all high school principals in Belize. Please note that all official documents, including consent forms and survey instruments will be written in English, the official language of Belize. This is appropriate since English is the only language used for instruction at the high school level Once all institutions have received this notification, principals will be contacted via phone to verify their willingness to participate in the st udy. Instead of mailing consent forms and survey instruments, I will personally fly to Belize and drive to all participating high schools to provide both principals and biology teachers with consent forms (transportation has been arranged). Both consent forms will indicate the study's objectives, procedures, potential risks and anticipated benefits in addition to a statement providing the opportunity to withdraw from the study at any time. Because complete disclosure of the research content may allow teachers to prepare for the surveys in advance (i.e. reading text books or even altering course outlines), I ask that IRB grant me permission to disclose only a limited degree of information about the research topic to each subject. I will however, debrief subjects once course outlines have been collected and surveys have been completed and sealed in privacy envelopes. During this time, teachers will be given the opportunity to both ask questions and make comments. Only schools whose principals have agreed to participate in the study will be visited. Upon arrival at the school but prior to interacting with teachers, the researcher will first meet with the respective principal and have him/her sign the "Principal Consent Form". Once this has been successfully accomplished, teachers of participating high schools will be briefed on the project and asked to read and sign the Teacher Consent Form" if they wish to participate in the study. Surveys will be conducted at the teacher's discretion, either during free class periods or at the end of the school day so as not to disrupt regular class time. Teacher(s) will be directed to an unoccupied classroom/laboratory and asked to complete the survey to the best of their abilities. For schools that have more than 1 biology teacher, teachers will be asked to complete the surveys in separate rooms. If this is not possible, teachers will be asked to sit far away from each other and to refrain from communicating with one another. Teachers will then be provided with a copy of the survey (identifiable only by a survey number), and a "privacy envelope" to place their completed surveys (these will not be opened until the data compilation phase). All teachers will be given specific instructions on how to complete the surveys in addition to being briefed on the anonymity of the study, the importance of an honest response, and their ability to withdraw from the study at any particular time. The researcher will then leave the room but remain close by in case there are any questions as the teachers complete the surveys. Following the completion of the surveys, teachers will be asked to drop their sealed envelopes in an box. Once all surveys have been submitted, the researcher will be open for questions and feedback on the study. In addition to implementing the surveys, 11 th and 12 th grade biology course outlines (syllabi) will be collected from each of the participating schools (this will be done prior to implementing the surveys).
80 L*5)%1I*+J$&*(&1'/+F*(*,1&5+'(7+6(&1)1#'&*7+315G5W+ ( If risk of physical, psychological or economic harm may be involved, describe the steps taken to protect participant.) J$&*(&1'/+F*(*,1&5 1) Participants will be challenged to think critic ally during the survey. They will be exposed to a topic, which remains controversial in most regions of the world. 2) Findings from this research will contribute to the strengthening of the biology curriculum in Belize and possibly the rest of the Caribbean. 6(&1)1#'&*7+315G5+ This study presents no more than minimal risks to the subjects. No physical, economic, or psychological harm is anticipated. Due to the nature of the evolutionary content in the study, some participants may be uncomfortable responding to some of the survey questions. To ensure that there is as little discomfort as possible, participants will be briefed on confidentiality, anonymity of responses, and on their ability to withdraw from the study at any time. In addition, all surveys will be completed in the absence of the researcher and will be submitted in sealed envelopes. + L*5)%1I*+B$4+J'%&1)1#'(&c5d+A1//+F*+3*)%01&*7X+&>*+D0"I*%+'(7+6e-+$,+&>*+ J'%&1)1#'(&5X+'(7+J%$#$5*7+?$"#*(5'&1$(W+ My initial research indicates that there are a total of 71 high school biology teachers in Belize. These teachers are distributed among the 47 high schools in the country. Because this sample pool is so small, all 71 teachers will be asked to participate in the study. Prior to implementing the surveys, all 47 high school principals in Belize will be contacted and asked to participate in the study. Once the respective principal has agreed and signed the consent form, I will request the participation of their biology teachers. There will be no compensation for participating in the study. L*5)%1I*+&>*+!(,$%"*7+?$(5*(&+J%$)*55Y++!()/07*+'+?$#@+$,+&>*+!(,$%"*7+?$(5*(&+ L$)0"*(&W+ Each participating high school principal and biology teacher will be provided with informed consent documents. The survey will not be implemented unless both principals and teacher(s) along with a witness have signed the consent forms. !(,$%"*7+?$(5*(&+L$)0"*(&5+'%*+'&&')>*7W+f-:+ J%1()1#'/+!(.*5&19'&$%c5d+:19('&0%*+ Elvis E. Nunez :0#*%.15$%+:19('&0%*W+ L*#'%&"*(&+?>'1%N?*(&*%+L1%*)&$%++ :19('&0%*W+ + L'&*W+
81 APPENDIX C PRINCIPAL CONSENT LETTER B19>+:)>$$/+J%1()1#'/+?$(5*(&+2*&&*%+ Dear Sir or Madam: My name is Elvis Nunez. I am a graduate student from Belize enrolled in the Department of Zoology at the University of Florida. Under the supervision of Dr. Bruce MacFadden, I am currently conducting research pertaining to biology content and curricula in Belize. The results of the study may help administrators and education officials better understand the importance of teaching concepts like evolutionary biology, genetics, and conservation as an integral part of the high school biology curricula, leading to improved curricula and instructional practices. These results may not directly help your institution today, but may benefit future students seeking a more comprehensive science education. Today, I would like to ask that you give permission for your school to participate in the study. Specifically, the study will require that your biology teachers complete a survey regarding biology curriculum and their perspectives on various topics units taught in the discipline. Even after you agree to participate in the study, each individual teacher's consent will be sought. I assure you that your institution's participation will be greatly appreciated and will be the first step towards enhancing science education in Belize, and possibly the rest of the Caribbean. Due to the small number of high schools and biology teachers in the Belize, all high schools in the country will be asked to form part of this study. Specifically, all 11 th and 12 th grade (3 rd and 4 th Form) biology teachers around the country will be asked to complete the questionnaire. Please be advised that teachers will not have to answer any question they do not wish to answer. In addition, they will not be asked to write their names on the questionnaires so that their responses are anonymous. Their identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Results will only be reported in the form of collective data. And, schools will not be penalized for not participating in the research study. Even after signing this form, your school will have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without any consequence. This study presents no known risks or immediate benefits to the participants. Group results of this study will be available late in the fall 2009 semester. If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact me at 1-808-854-5436 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Bruce MacFadden, at 1-352-273-1937. Questions or concerns regarding your participation in this research project may be directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433. Sincerely, Elvis Nunez I have read the procedure described above. I ______________________ voluntarily give consent for my institution, _______________________, to participate in Elvis Nunez's study regarding high school teachers' perceptions about biology content. I have received a copy of this project's description. ____________________________ ___________ Principal's Signature, Date ____________________________ ___________ Witness, Date
82 APPENDIX D BIOLOGY TEACHER CONSENT LETTER Dear Sir or Madam: My name is Elvis Nunez. I am a graduate student from Belize enrolled in the Department of Zoology at the University of Florida. Under the supervision of Dr. Bruce MacFadden, I am currently conducting research pertaining to biology content and curricula in Belize. The results of the study may help administrators and education officials better understand the importance of teaching concepts like evolutionary biology, genetics, and conservation as an integral part of the high school biology curricula, leading to improved curricula and instructional practices. These results may not directly help your institution today, but may benefit future students seeking a more comprehensive science educ ation. Today, I would like to ask that you participate in this research by completing a su rvey regarding your biology curriculum and your perspectives on various units taught in your discipline Y Your participation will be greatly appreciated and will be the first step towards enhancing science education in Belize and possibly the rest of the Caribbean. Due to the small number of biology teachers in Belize, all 11 th and 12 th grade (3 rd and 4 th form) biology teachers around the country will be asked to complete this questionnaire. Please be advised that you will not have to answer any quest ion you do not wish to answer. In addition, you will not be asked to write your name on the questionnaire so that your responses are anonymous. Moreover, your completed survey wi ll be placed inside a "Privacy Envelope" and not opened until the data compilation phase. I assure you that your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Results will only be reported in the form of collective data. Schools will not be penalized for not participating in the research study. Even after signing this form, you will have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without any consequence. This study presents no known risks or immediate benefits to its participants. Group results of this study will be available late in the fall 2009 semester. If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact me at 1-808-854-5436 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Bruce MacFadden, at 1-352-273-1937. Questions or concerns regarding your participation in this research project may be directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-0433. Sincerely, Elvis Nunez I have read the procedure described above. I ______________________ voluntarily give my consent to participate in Elvis Nunez's study regarding high school teachers' perceptions about biology content. I have received a copy of this project's description. ____________________________ ___________ Biology Teacher's Signature, Date ____________________________ ___________ Witness, Date
83 APPENDIX E SURVEY INSTRUMENT + F1$/$9@ +<*')>*%+:0%.*@++ + ++++++++++ L'&*W+ggggggggggggggggggggggggggg+ <1"*W+ggggggggggggggggggggggggggg+ 69*W+++ggggggggggggggggggggggggggg+ :*EW++++c=d+cOd+ -&>(1)1&@W+c6d+=*5&1;$+++cFd+?%*$/*+++c?d+='@'+++cLd+e'%1,0('+++c-d+<'14'(*5*+++cOd+?'0)'51'(+++ced+=1E*7+++ ced+Q&>*%W+ggggggggggg+ 6%*'+$,+:#*)1'/1;'&1$(W+ ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg+ + + :*)&1$(+!W+J/*'5*+%*5#$(7+&$+&>*+,$//$41(9+h0*5&1$(5+'5+>$(*5&/@+'5+#$551I/*Y+ 1. What is your level of academic teacher preparation? 1) High School 2) A.S. / A.A. 3) B.S. / B.A. 4) M.S./ M.A. 2. Number of years teaching? 1) 0-2 2) 3-5 3) 6-10 4) 11-20 5) >20 3. Number of years teaching Biology ? 6. 0-2 7. 3-5 8. 6-10 9. 11-20 10. >20 4. What Form level do you teach? A. 3 rd Form (11 th Grade) B. 4 th Form (12 th Grade) C. Both 3 rd and 4 th Form
84 + :*)&1$(+!!W+O$%+&>*+,$//$41(9+1&*"5X+#/*'5*+1(71)'&*+@$0%+'9%**"*(&N715'9%**"*(&+41&>+&>*+ 91.*(+5&'&*"*(&5+051(9+&>*+5)'/*+I*/$4Y+++ + gggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg+ 6++++++++++++++++++++++++++++F++++++++++++++++?+++++++++++++L++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++-+ ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg+ :&%$(9/@+69%**+++++++++++69%**++++++++8(7*)17*7+++++++++++++++++++L15'9%**+++++++++:&%$(9/@+L15'9%**+ ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg+ + + ____1. Organisms existing today are the result of evolutionary processes that have occurred over millions of years. ____2. The theory of evolution is inca pable of being scientifically tested. ____3. Modern humans are the product of evolutionar y processes, which have occurred over millions of years. ____4. The theory of evolution is based on speculati on and not valid scientific observation and testing. ____5. Most scientists accept evolutionary theory to be a scientifically valid theory. ____6. The available data is ambiguous as to whether evolution actually occurs. ____7. The age of the Earth is less than 20,000 years. ____8. There is a significant body of data that supports evolutionary theory. ____9. Organisms exist today in essentially the same form in which they always have. ____10. Evolution is not a sci entifically valid theory. ____11. The age of the Earth is at least 4 billion years. ____12. Current evolutionary theory is the result of sound scientific research and methodology. ____13. Evolutionary theory generates testable predictions with respect to the characteristics of life. ____14. The theory of evolution cannot be correct, si nce it disagrees with the Biblical account of creation. ____15. Humans exist today in essentially the same form they always have. ____16. Evolutionary theory is supported by factual, historical, and laboratory data. ____17. Much of the scientific community doubts if evolution occurs. ____18. The theory of evolution brings meaning to t he diverse characteristics and behaviors observed in living forms. ____19. With few exceptions, organisms on Earth ca me into existence at about the same time. ____20. Evolution is a scientifically valid theory. +
85 :*)&1$(+!!!W+O$%+&>*+,$//$41(9+1&*"5X+#/*'5*+)1%)/*+&>*+/*&&*%+&>'&+)$%%*5#$(75+&$+&>*+F-:<+ '(54*%Y+ + 21. The evolutionary theory propo sed by Charles Darwin was: a. Change in populations through time as a result of mutations b. The spontaneous generation of new organisms c. The passing on of genes form one generation to the next d. Change in populations through time as a response to environmental change e. The development of characteristics by organisms in response to need 22. The wing of a bat and the fore-limb of a dog are sa id to be homologous structures. This indicates that: a. They have the same function b. Bats evolved from a lineage of dogs c. They are structures which ar e similar due to common ancestry d. The limb bones of each are anatomically identical e. They have a different ancestry but a common function 23. Using radioactive dating techniques, the first life seems to have appeared on the earth about: a. 10 thousand years ago b. 270 million years ago c. 3.3 billion years ago d. 4.5 million years ago e. 10 billion years ago 24. Which of the following phrases best describes the process of evolution? a. The development of man from monkey-life ancestors b. The change of simple to complex organisms c. The development of characteristics in response to need d. The change of populations through time e. The change of populations solely in response to natural selection 25. Marine mammals have many stru ctural characteristics in common with fishes. The explanation that evolutionary theory would give for this similarity is: a. Fish and mammals are closely related b. Fish evolved structur es similar to those already existing in mammals c. Marine mammals evolved directly from the fishes d. Marine mammals never developed use of limbs e. Marine mammals adapted to an environ ment similar to that of the fishes 26. An alternation in the arrangement of nucleotides in a chromosome, possibly resulting in either a structural or physiological change in the organism, is called: a. Genetic drift b. Gene flow c. A mutation d. Natural selection e. A recessive gene 27. It is thought that there was a rapid evolutionary rate once animal life invaded land from the oceans. The explanation given for this rapid evolution is: a. There were many potential habitats for new forms to fill b. The land was a perfect haven for life c. There were many climatic changes occurring at the time d. Radiation from the sun caused mutations e. The ocean was too stable and limited to allow for evolution to occur
86 28. The first animals to settle on land probably had which one of the following characteristics? a. They were quite mobile to escape from predators b. They were partially depe ndent upon water for survival c. They were capable of completely adapting to the terrestrial environment in their life span d. They had wings for flight from one habitat to another e. They were quite adept at feeding on specific terrestrial plants 29. Two islands are found in the middle of the Paci fic Ocean, isolated from any other land mass. These two islands were at one time connected by a land bridge and are of recent origin. They have identical plant and animal life and are separat ed by 50 miles of ocean. Assuming different selection pressures, which of these island populat ions would be most likely to be reproductively isolated, possibly allowing for species divergence? a. Dandelions, with airborne seeds b. Coconuts with floating seeds c. Birds d. Butterflies e. Mice 30. The population of Florida panthers has been drastically reduced by the actions of man. Which of the following most likely threatens their ability to continue to evolve in response to the pressures of their environment: a. There is no longer the pr ospect of over-reproduction b. There is no longer the prospect of a struggle for limited resources c. There is a lack of genetic variation for selection to act upon d. There is no longer the prospect of a trait conferring a reproductive advantage e. There is no longer the prospect of genetic drift occurring 31. A sudden major climatic change would most likely result in: a. A rapid increase in adaptive radiation b. A rapid increase in extinction rates c. A sharp increase in numbers of species d. An increase in mutation rates e. Plants and animals developing new characterist ics in order to cope with environmental changes 32. The most compelling evidence for large-scal e evolutionary change or macroevolution is: a. Kettlewell's release-recapture experiment with peppered moths b. The fossil record c. The occurrence of mass extinctions d. Domestication of plants and animals e. The observed increase of mutation rates across all species 33. When first proposed, Darwin's theory of natural selection did not fully explain how evolution could occur. This was due to: a. Darwin's failure to recognize the tendency of organisms to over-reproduce b. Darwin's initial overemphasis of the significance of genetic drift c. The fact that accurate mechanisms explaining genetic inheritance were not widely known d. The absence of accurate description of the embryological development of most plants and animals e. The absence of biochemical techniques to determine the genetic similarities between species 34. The presence of tropical rainforest foss il forms in Canada can best be explained by: a. A shifting of environmental require ments by these types of species b. A major climatic shift of the Earth c. A drifting of continents in a northward direction d. An uplifting of lowland areas e. A long-term constance of climate
87 35. Individuals within a species tend to be genetically different. The primary mechanism generating this individual variability is: a. Meiosis b. Mitosis c. Polyploidy d. Duplications e. Asexual reproduction 36. The extinct species Archaeopteryx has characteristics of both bi rds and reptiles. This is an example of a(n): a. Convergent species b. Trace fossil c. Archetype d. Intermediate form e. Polymorphic species 37. The earliest fossils found in the geologic record are: a. Fungi b. Bacteria c. Small photosynthesizing plants d. Seed plants e. Protozoa 38. Radiometric dating techni ques rely on the fact that: a. The bony portions of organisms decompose at known rate b. Organisms which lived earlier in time will tend to be found in sediments below organisms which lived more recently c. The magnetic field of the earth has reversed its polarity at the known time intervals in geologic time d. The earth contains elements which cha nge into other elements at a constant rate e. During the decomposition process organic ma tter is converted into radioactive elements at a known rate 39. Which of the following best represents Lamarck's ideas of evolutionary process? a. Survival of the fittest b. Inheritance of acquired characteristics c. Neutral drift d. Punctuated equilibrium e. Assortive mating 40. Which of the following is not a part of Darwin's theory of natural selection? a. Individuals of a population vary b. Organisms tend to over-reproduce themselves c. There are limited resources for which individuals compete d. Modifications an organism acquire s during its lifetime can be passed to its offspring e. Variations possessed by indi viduals of a population are heritable 41. The life histories of five birds of the same species are listed below. The most evolutionally successful bird is the one that: a. Lives 5 years, lays 12 eggs in a lifetime, 4 hatch b. Lives 2 years, lays 8 eggs in a lifetime, 5 hatch c. Lives 6 years, lays 2 eggs in a lifetime, 2 hatch d. Lives 4 years, lays 7 eggs in a lifetime, 6 hatch e. Lives 5 years, lays 4 eggs in a lifetime, 3 hatch
88 :*)&1$(+!RW++J/*'5*+%*5#$(7+&$+&>*+,$//$41(9+h0*5&1$(5+'5+>$(*5&/@+'5+#$551I/*Y+ 5. What percentage of the content in your biology syllabus is taken from the CSEC biology syllabus? _____________________________________________________________________________ 6. Do you currently teach evolution in your biology classroom? Yes No If so, do you teach it as a unit or overarching theme ? _____________________________________________________________________________ 7. What biology textbook do you use? _____________________________________________________________________________ 8. Are you satisfied with the treatment of evolution in your course textbook? Yes No If No, why not? ____________________________________________________________________________ 9. Do you feel well prepared to teach co ncepts in evolution? Yes No If No, what would help you be better prepared? _____________________________________________________________________________ 10. To what extent should we care about the theory of evolution? _____________________________________________________________________________ THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND SUPPORT
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96 Troost, C.J., (1966). An analysis of factors infl uencing the teaching of evolution in the secondary schools of Indiana. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Indiana University, Bloomington. Van Koevering, T.E., & Stiehl R.B. (1989). Evolution, cr eation, and Wisconsin biology teachers. The American Biology Teacher 51-200-202. Weld, J., & McNew, J.C., (1999). Attitudes towards evolution. Science Teacher 66, 2731. WGBH Educational Foundation ( 2001). Evolution Teacher's Gu ide. Boston, MA: Author. Wood, T., (1988). State-mandated accountability as a constraint on teaching and learning science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 25, 631-641. Woods, C.S., & Sharamann, L.C., (2001). High school students' perceptions of evolutionary theory. Electronic Journal of Science Education 6 (2). Retrieved December 12, 2001 from http://unr.edu/homepage/crowther/ejse/woodsetal.html Wright, B.D ., & Masters, G.N., (1982). Ra ting scale analysis. Chicago: Mesa Press. Zimmerman, M., (1987). The evol ution-creation controversy: Opinions of Ohio high school biology teachers. Ohio J ournal of Science, 87, 115-125. Zuzovsky, R., (1994). Conceptua lizing a teaching experience on the developm ent of the idea of evolution. An epistemological approach to the education of science teachers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 31, 557-574.
97 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Elvis Nunez was born in Belize in 1985. His undergradua te education was completed both in Belize and at the Universi ty of Hawaii at Hilo wh ere he obtained a B.A. in Marine Science and AAs in biology, chemistry and mathematics. During his science career, Mr. Nunez's portfolio has gr own to include working on adrenal cancer; hermaphrodite nematodes; marine reserves both in Belize and in Hawaii, and excavating pre-historic mammals in Florida. He is currently pursuing a degree in biology with a minor in science Education, in hopes of working in curriculum reform and environmental policy in the near future.