Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Clary, Renee M.

Committee Member

Kirkland, Brenda L.

Committee Member

Schmitz, Darrel W.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access



Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


This study attempts to discern if geologic time is a threshold concept for student understanding of evolutionary theory. A threshold concept enables the learner to unpack other concepts because of its importance in thought construction. In this study three teachers and ten sections of biology were investigated from the same high school. Each teacher used the same activities, in the same sequence, and with identical evaluation methods. Students in the treatment group covered a unit on geologic time prior to completing course work on evolutionary theory. Student misconceptions in both control and treatment groups were assessed using a composite concept inventory administered post and prior to the study. Statistical analysis conducted revealed no statistical evidence to support the contention that the treatment method was more effective than traditional methods of teaching evolution. It was found that students agreed significantly more with evolution post study in both treatment and control groups.