An investigation into the attitudes of teachers and learners towards evolution, the conceptual changes that occur when learners are taught evolution, and the factors that influence this conceptual change.
Evolution is considered a controversial topic and has been met with much debate, concern and conflict in its inclusion in the school curriculum. The aim of his investigation was to determine what conceptual change occurs when learners are taught evolution and what factors influence this change looking in particular at learners’ conceptual ecologies and the role that religious beliefs play. The attitudes of the learners, teachers and school community towards evolution were also investigated. A mixed methods approach was used because it obtains a fuller picture and provides a deeper understanding of a phenomenon by combining the strengths of qualitative and quantitative research. Learners were given a pre-and post-instruction survey and concept mapping task, and a sample of learners were interviewed post instruction. Results showed that learners made significant conceptual changes and that religious beliefs are the main contributing factor to learners’ conceptual ecologies and the conceptual changes that occurred. An overall negative attitude was initially experienced from learners, but this developed into curiosity and interest. Teachers had a positive attitude towards teaching evolution. This study also highlights the notion that conceptual change theory is not sufficient in explaining how all learners learn evolution. Learners that experience cultural conflict follow various other learning paths explained by collateral learning. Collateral learning is considered because it more accurately explains how religious learners learn evolution. Collateral learning puts emphasis on the importance that learner cultures have in learning and highlights the importance of teaching for cultural border crossing