Relationships between the religious backgrounds and evolution acceptance of black and hispanic biology students

M. Elizabeth Barnes, K. Supriya, Hayley M. Dunlop, Taija M. Hendrix, Gale M. Sinatra, Sara E. Brownell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The evolution education experiences of students of color represent an emerging area of research, because past inquiries indicate these students have differential outcomes, such as lower evolution acceptance and severe underrepresentation in evolutionary biology. Religion is often an important support for students of color who are navigating a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics culture that privileges White nonreligious students. For instance, religion helps mitigate the negative effects of racism, but religious students are also more likely to experience conflict when learning evolution. In this nation-wide study, we examined the extent to which strong religiosity among students of color can explain their lower evolution acceptance. We surveyed students in 77 college biology courses across 17 states and found that Black/African American students tend to be more religious and less accepting of evolution than any other racial/ethnic identity group and that Hispanic students tend to be slightly more religious and slightly less accepting of evolution than White students. Importantly, we find that religious background is an important factor associated with Black and Hispanic students’ lower levels of evolution acceptance. This study suggests that the biology community should become more inclusive of Christian religious students if it wishes to foster inclusive evolution education for Black and Hispanic students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberar59
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalCBE life sciences education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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