Students regard evolutionary theory differently than science in general. Students’ reported confidence in their ability to understand science in general (e.g., posing scientific questions, interpreting tables and graphs, and understanding the content of their biology course) significantly outweighed their confidence in understanding evolution. We also show that those students with little incoming confidence in their understanding of evolution demonstrated more confidence and the most improved performance by the end of the semester. Collectively, our data indicate that regardless of prior experiences with evolution education, and in spite of myriad social challenges to teaching evolution, students can learn evolution.

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