Community College Student Understanding and Perceptions of Evolution

M. Elizabeth Barnes, Rebekkah Riley, Chloe Bowen, Jacqueline Cala, Sara E. Brownell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Learning about evolution is a foundational part of biology education, but most current studies that explore college student evolution education are conducted at universities. However, community college students tend to be more diverse in characteristics shown to be related to evolution education outcomes. To explore how studies involving university students may generalize to community college students, we surveyed students from seven community college (n = 202) and nine university (n = 2288) classes. We measured students' evolution interest, acceptance, and understanding, and for religious students, we measured their perceived conflict between their religions and evolution. Controlling for state and major, we found that community college students had similar levels of evolution interest as university students but perceived greater conflict between their religions and evolution. Further, community college students had lower evolution understanding and acceptance compared with university students. Religiosity was a strong factor predicting community college and university students' evolution acceptance. However, unique to community college students, evolution understanding was not related to their macroevolution or human evolution acceptance. This indicates that, although some results between community college and university students are similar, there are differences that have implications for evolution instruction that warrant the need for more evolution education research at community colleges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)ar46
JournalCBE life sciences education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Community College Student Understanding and Perceptions of Evolution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this