The teaching of evolution in the secondary schools in northeastern Illinois

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Bullington, Robert A. (Robert Adrian), 1908-2001

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Education


Evolution--Study and teaching


PROBLEM: The purpose of the study of "The Teaching of Evolution in the Secondary Schools in Northeastern Illinois" is twofold; first, to determine whether the attitudes, background or communities in which they taught influenced a teacher's presentation of the subject of evolution and second, how evolution is presented to the students in northeastern Illinois. PROCEDURE: Two questionnaires were sent out at an interval of approximately two months, to high school biology teachers in Cook, Will, DuPage, DeKalb, Lake, McHenry and Kane Counties. A sixty-seven per cent return was received from the first questionnaire and a fifty per cent return from the second questionnaire. The answers received from these questionnaires were tabulated and evaluated. CONCLUSIONS: A wide variety of answers were received to the questionnaires and from these answers a generalized picture was formed as to how evolution is taught in the secondary schools in northeastern Illinois. Evolution is taught in practically all high schools, the main difference in the teaching being in the manner in which it is taught. Schools in smaller communities appear to treat evolution more lightly than schools in larger communities. The teachers were evenly divided between those who are entirely convinced of the complete validity of the theory of evolution and those who have reservations about some parts of it. The more education a teacher had, the more thoroughly he was convinced of the theory of evolution and hence, he spent more time in presenting the subject to his students. Most teachers seemed to follow their text-books quite closely in their teaching of the subject. The texts most commonly used were "Modern Biology" and "Exploring Biology." The texts appear, however, to be inadequate on the teaching of evolution. Pressures against the teaching of evolution from outside the schools originated principally from religious groups, as might be expected. About half of the teachers questioned had, at one time or another, received adverse reactions to the study of evolution from their students. These reactions came mostly from students who attended the more fundamentalist churches and from students who had attended parochial grammar schools. Most teachers make at least a half-hearted attempt to present evolution to their students. However, it seems that the method of teaching the subject must be left to the individual teacher who knows his own situation best.


Includes bibliographical references (leaf 42)


42 pages




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