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Abstract

The research reported in this article addressed the fundamental question, What do students believe about the nature of the world around them? The research specifically addressed college students' fundamental beliefs about nature, that is, the natural world. Data were collected via semistructured interviews involving a set of elicitation devices used to encourage students to talk about the natural world. The analysis of interview transcripts yielded inferences about student fundamental beliefs based on logicostructural world view theory. These beliefs are presented in the form of a concept map and characterized by a set of bipolar descriptive codes: naturalism and religion; chaos and order; mystery and knowledge; function and purpose; mundane and special; science/no science. Perhaps the most intriguing observation of the study was science's apparent lack of influence on students' beliefs about nature even though these students had been successful in college level science courses.