These results also provide a useful way of looking at the perceived conflict between religion and science when it comes to teaching evolution, according to Haury. "Intuitive cognition not only opens a new door to approach the issue," he said, "it also gives us a way of addressing that issue without directly questioning religious views."
When choosing a setting for their study, the team found that Korean teacher preparation programs were ideal. "In Korea, people all take the same classes over the same time period and are all about the same age, so it takes out a lot of extraneous factors," said Haury. "We wouldn't be able to find a sample group like this in the United States."
Unlike in the U.S., about half of Koreans do not identify themselves as belonging to any particular religion. But according to Ha, who is from Korea, certain religious groups consider the topic of evolution just as controversial as in the U.S.
To ensure that their results were relevant to U.S. settings, the researchers compared how the Korean students did on the knowledge tests with previous studies of U.S. students. "We found that the both groups were comparable in terms of the overall performance," said Haury.
For teaching evolution, the researchers suggest using exercises that allow students to become aware of their brains' dual processing. Knowing that sometimes what their "gut" says is in conflict with what their "head" knows may help students judge ideas on their merits.
"Educationally, we think that's a place to start," said Haury. "It's a concrete way to show them, lookyou can be fooled and make a bad decision, because you just can't deny your gut."
Ha and Haury collaborated on this study with Ross Nehm, associate professor of education at the Ohio State University. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.
|Contact: David Haury|
Ohio State University