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May 20, 2008

Creationism Being Taught by 1 in 8 High School Biology Teachers

The Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE) is reporting on a recent study that indicated a significant percentage of high school biology teachers are teaching some form of creationism. The study, "Evolution and Creationism in America's Classrooms: A National Portrait" was published in the prestigious open access journal, PLOS Biology, by Penn State researchers Michael B. Berkman, Julianna Sandell Pacheco, and Eric Plutzer.

From the CHE article (with local links added):

One in eight teachers said they taught creationism as a "valid scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species," reports a team led by Michael B. Berkman, a professor of political science at Pennsylvania State University at University Park.
The Penn State researchers surveyed 939 high-school biology teachers who were randomly selected from a list that includes most of the biology teachers in the country. They found that treatment of evolution varies widely: Some 38 percent of teachers devote more than 11 hours to the subject, while 11 percent provide less than 2 hours for the topic, if they cover it at all.
A quarter of teachers said they discussed creationism or intelligent design for at least an hour, but nearly half apparently bring it up to criticize it, say the survey authors. Some 40 percent of the teachers who raise the topic of creationism say that when they talk about it, they describe it as a valid religious perspective that is inappropriate for a science class.
The survey suggests that the personal beliefs of teachers and their training both make a big difference in how much time they devote to discussing evolution. Teachers were most likely to devote few hours to the topic if they held beliefs consistent with creationism. Those who spent the most class time on evolution had taken the most college-level credits in biology and had taken at least one class in evolutionary biology, according to the Penn State researchers.
Randy Moore, a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, has conducted his own surveys of high-school biology teachers and also of college students, to see what they learned in high-school biology classes. His findings and those of other researchers suggest that 15 percent to 30 percent of biology teachers are teaching creationism, which federal courts have deemed a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In a study, "Creationism in the Biology Classroom: What Do Teachers Teach & How Do They Teach It?" [U of I access] published in The American Biology Teacher [U of I access] in February, Mr. Moore found that 27 percent of the 1,465 college freshmen he surveyed had encountered creationism in a high-school biology class. A previous study found that 15 percent of biology teachers do not accept evolution as scientifically valid. The new survey, he said, is valuable because "it documents what many biologists would find astounding: that biology teachers are teaching creationism." Despite considerable evidence showing the persistence of creationism in American classrooms, he said, "college faculty don't believe this."

Posted by Katie Newman at 11:32 AM

May 9, 2008

Bulk Download PDFs from SCOPUS

If the way you like to work is to download the PDFs of journal articles to your hard drive, here's some news you will welcome!

Scopus, a multidisciplinary database for the sciences, has just added a DOWNLOAD button that allows you to download up to 50 pdfs at a time to your hard drive.


  1. Perform a search in Scopus
  2. Select the article(s) that you are interested in by checking the box to the left of the citation.
  3. Click on the DOWNLOAD button. A new window will open.
  4. You'll be asked how you want to have the files named, e.g., by first author's last name + title of the article, or however you like.
  5. Identify the folder on your hard drive where you want the files placed.
  6. If desired, check off that you'd like to have Abstract downloaded, if the pdf is not available.
  7. That's it! Press Begin Download.

If you use EndNote, you'll still need to pull the citations into EndNote in a separate step. Then can "link" from EndNote to the downloaded articles on your harddrive, if you like.

If you'd like to learn more about Scopus, here's a piece I wrote about it, when it was just in Trial mode at the University (we have since decided to subscribe to it):

The technology that Scopus is using to perform this minor miracle of pulling in the pdfs comes from Quosa.

Posted by Katie Newman at 3:36 PM