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An exploration of how gender, political affiliation, or religious identity is associated with comfort and perceptions of controversial topics in bioethicsBioethics is an important aspect of understanding the relationship between science and society, but studies have not yet examined undergraduate student experiences and comfort in bioethics courses. In this study, we investigated undergraduate bioethics students’ support of and comfort when learning three controversial bioethics topics: gene editing, abortion, and physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Furthermore, student identity has been shown to influence how students perceive and learn about controversial topics at the intersection of science and society. So, we explored how students’ religious affiliation, gender, or political affiliation was associated with their support of and comfort when learning about gene editing, abortion, and PAS. We found that most students entered bioethics with moderated viewpoints on controversial topics but that there were differences in students’ tendency to support each topic based on their gender, religion, and political affiliation. We also saw differences in student comfort levels based on identity: women reported lower comfort than men when learning about gene editing, religious students were less comfortable than nonreligious students when learning about abortion and PAS, and nonliberal students were less comfortable than liberal students when learning about abortion. Students cited that the controversy surrounding these topics and a personal hesitancy to discuss them causedmore »Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
Jensen, Jamie L. (Ed.)Evolution is a prominent component of biology education and remains controversial among college biology students in the United States who are mostly Christian, but science education researchers have not explored the attitudes of Muslim biology students in the United States. To explore perceptions of evolution among Muslim students in the United States, we surveyed 7,909 college students in 52 biology classes in 13 states about their acceptance of evolution, interest in evolution, and understanding of evolution. Muslim students in our sample, on average, did not agree with items that measured acceptance of macroevolution and human evolution. Further, on average, Muslim students agreed, but did not strongly agree with items measuring microevolution acceptance. Controlling for gender, major, race/ethnicity, and international status, we found that the evolution acceptance and interest levels of Muslim students were slightly higher than Protestant students and students who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, Muslim student evolution acceptance levels were significantly lower than Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu students as well as students who did not identify with a religion (agnostic and atheists). Muslim student understanding of evolution was similar to students from other affiliations, but was lower than agnostic andmore »
An Exploration across Institution Types of Undergraduate Life Sciences Student Decisions to Stay in or Leave an Academic-Year Research ExperienceSpell, Rachelle (Ed.)Undergraduate research is one of the most valuable activities an undergraduate can engage in because of its benefits, and studies have shown that longer experiences are more beneficial. However, prior research has illuminated that undergraduates encounter challenges that may cause them to exit research prematurely. These studies have been almost exclusively conducted at research-intensive (R1) institutions, and it is unclear whether such challenges are generalizable to other institution types. To address this, we extended a study previously conducted at public R1 institutions. In the current study, we analyze data from 1262 students across 25 public R1s, 12 private R1s, 30 master’s-granting institutions, and 20 primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) to assess 1) to what extent institution type predicts students’ decisions to persist in undergraduate research and 2) what factors affect students’ decisions to either stay in or consider leaving their undergraduate research experiences (UREs) at different institution types. We found students at public R1s are more likely to leave their UREs compared with students at master’s-granting institutions and PUIs. However, there are few differences in why students enrolled at different institution types consider leaving or choose to stay in their UREs. This work highlights the importance of studying undergraduate research acrossmore »
A New Measure of Students’ Perceived Conflict between Evolution and Religion (PCoRE) Is a Stronger Predictor of Evolution Acceptance than Understanding or ReligiosityPrice, Rebecca (Ed.)Evolution is controversial among students and religiosity, religious affiliation, understanding of evolution, and demographics are predictors of evolution acceptance. However, quantitative research has not explored the unique impact of student perceived conflict between their religion and evolution as a major factor influencing evolution acceptance. We developed an instrument with validity evidence called “Perceived Conflict between Evolution and Religion” (PCoRE). Using this measure, we find that, among students in 26 biology courses in 11 states, adding student perceived conflict between their religion and evolution to linear mixed models more than doubled the capacity of the models to predict evolution acceptance compared with models that only included religiosity, religious affiliation, understanding of evolution, and demographics. Student perceived conflict between evolution and their religion was the strongest predictor of evolution acceptance among all variables and mediated the impact of religiosity on evolution acceptance. These results build upon prior literature that suggests that reducing perceived conflict between students’ religious beliefs and evolution can help raise evolution acceptance levels. Further, these results indicate that including measures of perceived conflict between religion and evolution in evolution acceptance studies in the future is important.
Bolger, Molly S. (Ed.)Recent research has begun to explore the experiences of Christian undergraduates and faculty in biology to illuminate reasons for their underrepresentation. In this study, we focused on the experiences of graduate students and explored Christianity as a concealable stigmatized identity (CSI) in the biology community. We constructed interview questions using this CSI framework, which originates in social psychology, to research the experiences of those with stigmatized identities that could be hidden. We analyzed interviews from 33 Christian graduate students who were enrolled in biology programs and found that many Christian graduate students believe the biology community holds strong negative stereotypes against Christians and worry those negative stereotypes will be applied to them as individuals. We found that students conceal their Christian identities to avoid negative stereotypes and reveal their identities to counteract negative stereotypes. Despite these experiences, students recognize their value as boundary spanners between the majority secular scientific community and majority Christian public. Finally, we found that Christian students report that other identities they have, including ethnicity, gender, nationality, and LGBTQ+ identities, can either increase or decrease the relevance of their Christian identities within the biology community.