Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Journal of College Science Teaching, Vol. 45, No. 1, 2015, pp 11-16.


Journal of College Science Teaching is a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Science Teachers Association.


Journal writing was introduced as a means to assess student learning and acceptance of evolutionary science in a nonmajors’ biology course taught at a community college. Fourteen weeks of instruction were performed, each initiated by student-centered, in-class activities and culminated by a discussion, to elucidate tentative conclusions based on evidence from in-class activities. Students (N = 31) engaged in explicit and reflective writing (i.e., journaling) at four points during the semester, providing responses to the following questions: (a) what influence did the recent inclass activities and discussion have on your understanding of evolution (b) has your view (of evolution) changed (explain your response and provide support or examples of what influenced the change); and (c) what aspects of the nature of science have your observed in recent lessons/activities. Journal entries were coded on a continuum as informed (I), somewhat informed (SWI), or not informed (NI) regarding the accuracy of evidence cited with respect to evolutionary science. Initial journal entries were judged as strongly NI and highly negative toward evolution. Data analyses at the conclusion of the course, however, indicated a statistically significant shift in student responses toward an informed view more consistent with evolutionary principles and less personally resistant to biological evolution.