The struggle to be heard : creationism and evolution in current secondary school biology textbooks

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Nielsen, Kirstin Anne
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Biology
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The purpose of this study was to analyze the content of secondary school biology textbooks concerning their coverage of evolutionary theory, creation theory, and alternative theories of origins to be used a reference tool for educators. State textbook adoption lists were used in order to arrive at a representative sample of biology textbooks used throughout the United States. U.S. territories, including American Samoa and Puerto Rico, were also surveyed. The method of textbook analysis was descriptive, and concerned both quantitative and qualitative data. The number of pages devoted to evolution, creationism, and alternative theories of origins were recorded as were the appearance of the terms "evolution," "creation[ism] " and "natural selection" in textbook indices and glossaries. The qualitative segment of the study was concerned with the manner in which evolution and creationism were presented within the texts. This study was significant in that it examined the direct effects of the Creationist controversy upon the schools. The Creationist controversy involves a constitutional battle which reaches far beyond the pulpit or the courts to affect every child enrolled in a U.S. public school. The conflict involves a struggle concerning the internal balance of First Amendment rights, raises questions pertaining to the status of scientific thought and discovery, and embodies a movement which is both for and against established thought, concomitantly.