A Study Identifying Biological Evolution-Related Misconceptions Held by Prebiology High School Students


Students bring a diverse array of ideas about natural events to their science classes, and many of these ideas are often at variance with the scientifically accepted views. Numerous studies have identified multiple biological evolution-related misconceptions held by select groups of students. Collectively, these studies repeatedly indicate that students with varying educational backgrounds have difficulties accurately understanding the concepts of evolution. Because scientific literacy in the field of biology necessitates a basic understanding of evolution concepts and theory, students’ possession of biological evolution-related misconceptions is problematic. The focus of this study was to identify the types and prevalence of such misconceptions within a state’s public high schools’ prebiology students and to correlate those findings with demographic variables. Some 993 students enrolled in their initial high school biology course during the 2010-2011 academic years in one of 42 Oklahoma public high schools served as this study’s unit of analysis. The Biological Evolution Literacy Survey which presents 23 biological misconception statements grouped into five categories, served as the research tool for identifying students’ misconceptions, calculating conception index scores, and collecting demographic data. Multiple statistical analyses were performed to identify statistically significant (p < 0.05) relationships between variables related to students’ number and types of misconceptions. Analysis revealed that participants possess a mean 43.9% rate of understanding of those biological evolution concepts presented in the BEL Survey combined with a 39.1% mean misconception rate. A statistically significant difference in participants’ BEL Survey mean index scores when related to biological evolution knowledge self-rating was also disclosed. Strategies for identifying and eliminating students’ misconceptions are offered. Misconceptions of biological evolution were prevalent within this student population and the findings corroborate the literature that reports a strikingly high prevalence of biological evolution-related misconceptions in students at all levels, from elementary pupils to university science majors.

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Yates, T. and Marek, E. (2015) A Study Identifying Biological Evolution-Related Misconceptions Held by Prebiology High School Students. Creative Education, 6, 811-834. doi: 10.4236/ce.2015.68085.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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