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Abstract

Research demonstrates that teachers' acceptance or rejection of evolution impacts whether they teach evolution in their classrooms. Furthermore, factors such as religiosity and nature of science understanding impact acceptance or rejection. What is absent from the literature is an exploration of experiences that inform choices made regarding acceptance or rejection, experiences that illuminate the counter-intuitive relationships demonstrated in quantitative studies. For this reason, we explore the lived experiences that inform the worldviews of Pre-Service Secondary Science Teachers (PSSTs) and how those worldviews might inform their acceptance or rejection of evolution. Coding and pattern analysis informed themes within the data explaining how worldviews and evolution intersect, influencing acceptance or rejection. Themes included framing of experiences by worldviews, levels of commitment to religiosity, lack of consistent exposure to evolution, conflicting and coping, and the fact that PSSTs are already thinking about whether to teach evolution before they enter the classroom. Exploring these interactions and the process by which PSSTs negotiate acceptance or rejection provide insights for support and rich preparation in order to ease the process and positively impact the teaching of evolution, and other controversial topics. Understanding how PSSTs think about evolution can inform teacher education and science education, using understanding of our past and present to impact the future.

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