The Association Between the Academic Level of Biology Education Students at A Private University and Their Level of Trust in Conspiracy Theories Related to COVID-19

Ahmad Fauzi


A low level of scientific literacy and application leads students to believe in conspiracy theories (CTs). The purpose of this study was to analyze the accuracy of biology education students’ responses to CTs about COVID-19 and its association with their academic level. The population of this survey research was 134 students at the Department of Biology Education, from a private university located in East Java, Indonesia. The research sample included twenty students with the highest GPA (high academic group) and twenty students with the lowest GPA (low academic group). A CT questionnaire about COVID-19 was used as a data collection instrument. Less than half of the students correctly answered five of the eight CT questions asked. Only four CT items had a response accuracy above 50 percent. Spearman’s rho test revealed that there was no significant correlation between GPA and students’ distrust of CTs. Based on the results of the Kruskal-Wallis H test analysis, the GPA of high and low academic students was significantly different. However, Chi-Square analysis showed that students’ distrust of all CTs asked was not significantly associated with students’ academic level. Concerning the findings of this study, it is necessary for suggesting to reformulate the curriculum for science and biology education to improve the scientific literacy and information literacy of prospective teachers.


conspiracy theory; COVID-19 pandemic; misinformation; science literacy

Full Text:



Adli, I., Widyahening, I. S., Lazarus, G., Phowira, J., Baihaqi, L. A., Ariffandi, B., Putera, A. M., Nugraha, D., Gamalliel, N., & Findyartini, A. (2022). Knowledge, attitude, and practice related to the COVID-19 pandemic among undergraduate medical students in Indonesia: A nationwide cross-sectional study. PLOS ONE, 17(1), e0262827.

Ahmadian, E., Hosseiniyan Khatibi, S. M., Razi Soofiyani, S., Abediazar, S., Shoja, M. M., Ardalan, M., & Zununi Vahed, S. (2021). Covid‐19 and kidney injury: Pathophysiology and molecular mechanisms. Reviews in Medical Virology, 31(3).

Ahmed, N., Shahbaz, T., Shamim, A., Shafiq Khan, K., Hussain, S. M., & Usman, A. (2020). The COVID-19 infodemic: A quantitative analysis through Facebook. Cureus, 12(11), 1–9.

Aker, S., & Mıdık, Ö. (2020). The views of medical faculty students in Turkey concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Community Health, 45(4), 684–688.

Allington, D., Duffy, B., Wessely, S., Dhavan, N., & Rubin, J. (2020). Health-protective behaviour, social media usage, and conspiracy belief during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Psychological Medicine.

Bertin, P., Nera, K., & Delouvée, S. (2020). Conspiracy beliefs, rejection of vaccination, and support for hydroxychloroquine: A Conceptual replication-extension inc the COVID-19 pandemic context. Frontiers in Psychology, 11(September), 1–9.

Bierwiaczonek, K., Kunst, J. R., & Pich, O. (2020). Belief in COVID-19 conspiracy theories reduces social distancing over time. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 12(4), 1270–1285.

Binkley, M., Erstad, O., Herman, J., Raizen, S., Ripley, M., Miller-Ricci, M., & Rumble, M. (2012). Defining twenty-first century skills. In P. Griffin, B. McGaw, & E. Care (Eds.), Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills (pp. 17–66). Springer.

Blaskiewicz, R. (2013). The Big Pharma conspiracy theory. Medical Writing, 22(4), 259–261.

Borhan, M. T. (2014). Problem Based Learning (PBL) in teacher education: A review of the effect of PBL on pre-service teachers’ knowledge and skills. European Journal of Educational Sciences, 1(1), 76–87.

Brashier, N. M., & Schacter, D. L. (2020). Aging in an era of fake news. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 29(3), 316–323.

Bruns, A., Harrington, S., & Hurcombe, E. (2020). ‘Corona? 5G? or both?’: The dynamics of COVID-19/5G conspiracy theories on Facebook. Media International Australia, 177(1), 12–29.

Bybee, R. W. (2014). NGSS and the next generation of science teachers. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 25(2), 211–221.

Car, L. T., Kyaw, B. M., Dunleavy, G., Smart, N. A., Semwal, M., Rotgans, J. I., Low-Beer, N., & Campbell, J. (2019). Digital problem-based learning in health professions: Systematic review and meta-analysis by the digital health education collaboration. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21(2), 1–12.

Chen, L., Li, X., Chen, M., Feng, Y., & Xiong, C. (2020). The ACE2 expression in human heart indicates new potential mechanism of heart injury among patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. Cardiovascular Research, 116(6), 1097–1100.

Childs, P. E. (2015). Curriculum development in science—Past, present and future. LUMAT, 3(3), 381–400.

Chu, D. K., Akl, E. A., Duda, S., Solo, K., Yaacoub, S., Schünemann, H. J., Chu, D. K., Akl, E. A., El-harakeh, A., Bognanni, A., Lotfi, T., Loeb, M., Hajizadeh, A., Bak, A., Izcovich, A., Cuello-Garcia, C. A., Chen, C., Harris, D. J., Borowiack, E., … Schünemann, H. J. (2020). Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet, 395(10242), 1973–1987.

Cimermanová, I. (2018). The effect of learning styles on academic achievement in different forms of teaching. International Journal of Instruction, 11(3), 219–232.

Crawford, B. (2015). Authentic science. In R. Gunstone (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Science Education (pp. 113–115). Springer Netherlands.

Crowley, Ú. (2015). Review of critical thinking skills. AISHE, 7(3), 2641–2645.

Cucinotta, D., & Vanelli, M. (2020). WHO Declares COVID-19 a Pandemic. Acta Bio-Medica: Atenei Parmensis, 91(1), 157–160.

Dilucca, M., & Souli, D. (2020). Knowledge, attitude and practice of secondary school students toward COVID-19 epidemic in Italy: A cross selectional study. BioRxiv, 2019, 2020.05.08.084236.

Faisal, & Martin, S. N. (2019). Science education in Indonesia: Past, present, and future. Asia-Pacific Science Education, 5(1), 4.

Fasce, A., & Picó, A. (2019). Science as a vaccine: The relation between scientific literacy and unwarranted beliefs. Science & Education, 28(1–2), 109–125.

Fauzi, A., Husamah, H., Miharja, F. J., Fatmawati, D., Permana, T. I., & Hudha, A. M. (2020). Exploring COVID-19 literacy level among biology teacher candidates. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 16(7), em1864.

Fauzi, A., Rosyida, A. M., Rohma, M., & Khoiroh, D. (2021). The difficulty index of biology topics in Indonesian Senior High School: Biology undergraduate students’ perspectives. JPBI (Jurnal Pendidikan Biologi Indonesia), 7(2), 149–158.

Fauzi, A., & Sa’diyah, W. (2019). Students’ metacognitive skills from the viewpoint of answering biological questions: Is it already good? Jurnal Pendidikan IPA Indonesia, 8(3), 317–327.

Fauzi, A., Saefi, M., Adi, W. C., Kristiana, E., & Lestariani, N. (2022). Instrument evaluation of conspiracy theory about COVID-19: Exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis. International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education (IJERE), 11(2).

Febriasari, L. K., & Supriatna, N. (2017). Enhance environmental literacy through problem based learning. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 895(1), 1–6.

Flores, C. (2018). Problem-based science, a constructionist approach to science literacy in middle school. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 16, 25–30.

Freeman, D., Waite, F., Rosebrock, L., Petit, A., Causier, C., East, A., Jenner, L., Teale, A.-L., Carr, L., Mulhall, S., Bold, E., & Lambe, S. (2020). Coronavirus conspiracy beliefs, mistrust, and compliance with government guidelines in England. Psychological Medicine, 1–13.

Fuchs, C. (2021). Bill Gates Conspiracy Theories as ideology in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. In Communicating COVID-19 (pp. 91–144). Emerald Publishing Limited.

Georgiou, N., Delfabbro, P., & Balzan, R. (2020). COVID-19-related conspiracy beliefs and their relationship with perceived stress and pre-existing conspiracy beliefs. Personality and Individual Differences, 166, 110201.

Ginossar, T., Cruickshank, I. J., Zheleva, E., Sulskis, J., & Berger-Wolf, T. (2022). Cross-platform spread: Vaccine-related content, sources, and conspiracy theories in YouTube videos shared in early Twitter COVID-19 conversations. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 1–13.

Gohel, K. H., Patel, P. B., Shah, P. M., Patel, J. R., Pandit, N., & Raut, A. (2021). Knowledge and perceptions about COVID-19 among the medical and allied health science students in India: An online cross-sectional survey. Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health, 9, 104–109.

Goreis, A., & Kothgassner, O. D. (2020). Social media as vehicle for conspiracy beliefs on COVID-19. Digital Psychology, 1(2), 36–39.

Hakim, A. (2015). Contribution of competence teacher (pedagogical, personality, professional competence and social) on the performance of learning. The International Journal Of Engineering And Science, 4(2), 1–12.

Harlen, W. (2017). The teaching of science in primary schools. David Fulton Publishers.

He, L., Chen, Y., Xiong, X., Zou, X., & Lai, K. (2021). Does science literacy guarantee resistance to health rumors? The moderating effect of self-efficacy of science literacy in the relationship between science literacy and rumor belief. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(5), 2243.

He, Q., Mok, T. N., Yun, L., He, C., Li, J., & Pan, J. (2020). Single‐cell RNA sequencing analysis of human kidney reveals the presence of ACE2 receptor: A potential pathway of COVID‐19 infection. Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine, 8(10).

Howell, E. L., & Brossard, D. (2021). (Mis)informed about what? What it means to be a science-literate citizen in a digital world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(15), e1912436117.

Islam, N., Sharp, S. J., Chowell, G., Shabnam, S., Kawachi, I., Lacey, B., Massaro, J. M., D’Agostino, R. B., & White, M. (2020). Physical distancing interventions and incidence of coronavirus disease 2019: Natural experiment in 149 countries. BMJ, m2743.

Issa, H. B., & Khataibeh, A. (2021). The effect of using project based learning on Improving the critical thinking among upper basic students from teachers’ perspectives. Pegem Egitim ve Ogretim Dergisi, 11(2), 52–57.

Jackson, Y. M. (2016). An exploration of the effectiveness of problem-based learning in nursing education [PhD Thesis]. In ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Walden University.

James, A., Stears, M., & Moolman, C. (2012). Learning and teaching natural science in the early years: A case study of three different contexts. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 2(1), 82–99.

Jamison, A. M., Broniatowski, D. A., Dredze, M., Sangraula, A., Smith, M. C., & Quinn, S. C. (2020). Not just conspiracy theories: Vaccine opponents and proponents add to the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’ on Twitter. Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review.

Jgunkola, B. J., & Ogunkola, B. J. (2013). Scientific literacy: Conceptual overview, importance and strategies for improvement. Journal of Educationai and Sociai Research, 3(1), 265–274.

Jolley, D., & Douglas, K. M. (2014). The effects of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories on vaccination intentions. PLOS ONE, 9(2), e89177.

Jufrida, J., Basuki, F. R., Kurniawan, W., Pangestu, M. D., & Fitaloka, O. (2019). Scientific literacy and science learning achievement at junior high school. International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education (IJERE), 8(4), 630.

Kardoyo, K., Nurkhin, A., Muhsin, M., & Pramusinto, H. (2020). Problem-based learning strategy: Its impact on students’ critical and creative thinking skills. European Journal of Educational Research, 9(3), 1141–1150.

Karim, S. S. A., & Karim, Q. A. (2021). Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant: A new chapter in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet, 398(10317), 2126–2128.

Karmana, I. W. (2011). Strategi pembelajaran, kemampuan akademik, kemampuan pemecahan masalah, dan hasil belajar biologi. Jurnal Ilmu Pendidikan, 17(5), 378–386.

Kaushal, N., Gupta, Y., Goyal, M., Khaiboullina, S. F., Baranwal, M., & Verma, S. C. (2020). Mutational frequencies of SARS-CoV-2 genome during the beginning months of the outbreak in USA. Pathogens, 9(7), 565.

Kearney, M. D., Chiang, S. C., & Massey, P. M. (2020). The Twitter origins and evolution of the COVID-19 “plandemic” conspiracy theory. Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review.

Kim, E. A. (2020). Social distancing and public health guidelines at workplaces in Korea: Responses to COVID-19. Safety and Health at Work.

Kleickmann, T., Richter, D., Kunter, M., Elsner, J., Besser, M., Krauss, S., & Baumert, J. (2013). Teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(1), 90–106.

Knekta, E., Almarlind, P., & Ottander, C. (2022). The purpose of science education. Nordic Studies in Science Education, 18(1), 39–62.

Kokotsaki, D., Menzies, V., & Wiggins, A. (2016). Project-based learning: A review of the literature. Improving Schools, 19(3), 267–277.

Kola, A. J. (2013). Importance of science education to national development and problems militating against its development. American Journal of Educational Research, 1(7), 225–229.

Kong, L. N., Qin, B., Zhou, Y. qing, Mou, S. yu, & Gao, H. M. (2014). The effectiveness of problem-based learning on development of nursing students’ critical thinking: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 51(3), 458–469.

Krittanawong, C., Narasimhan, B., Virk, H. U. H., Narasimhan, H., Hahn, J., Wang, Z., & Tang, W. H. W. (2020). Misinformation dissemination in twitter in the COVID-19 era. The American Journal of Medicine, 133(12), 1367–1369.

Kyle, W. C. (2020). Expanding our views of science education to address sustainable development, empowerment, and social transformation. Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Science Education Research, 2(1), 2.

Ladini, R. (2021). Religious and conspiracist? An analysis of the relationship between the dimensions of individual religiosity and belief in a big pharma conspiracy theory. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana Di Scienza Politica, 1–18.

Lauring, A. S., & Malani, P. N. (2021). Variants of SARS-CoV-2. JAMA, 326(9), 880.

Li, H. O. Y., Bailey, A., Huynh, D., & Chan, J. (2020). YouTube as a source of information on COVID-19: A pandemic of misinformation? BMJ Global Health, 5(5), 1–6.

Liu, F., Long, X., Zhang, B., Zhang, W., Chen, X., & Zhang, Z. (2020). ACE2 expression in pancreas may cause pancreatic damage after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 18(9), 2128-2130.e2.

Machete, P., & Turpin, M. (2020). The use of critical thinking to identify fake news: A systematic literature review. In M. Hattingh, M. Matthee, H. Smuts, I. Pappas, Y. K. Dwivedi, & M. Mäntymäki (Eds.), Responsible Design, Implementation and Use of Information and Communication Technology (pp. 235–246). Springer.

Mahase, E. (2020). Coronavirus covid-19 has killed more people than SARS and MERS combined, despite lower case fatality rate. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 368(February), m641.

Medina-Enríquez, M. M., Lopez-León, S., Carlos-Escalante, J. A., Aponte-Torres, Z., Cuapio, A., & Wegman-Ostrosky, T. (2020). ACE2: The molecular doorway to SARS-CoV-2. Cell & Bioscience, 10(1), 148.

Miller, B. L. (2020). Science denial and COVID conspiracy theories. JAMA, 324(22), 2255.

Modi, P. D., Nair, G., Uppe, A., Modi, J., Tuppekar, B., Gharpure, A. S., & Langade, D. (2020). COVID-19 awareness among healthcare students and professionals in Mumbai Metropolitan Region: A questionnaire-based survey. Cureus.

Morris, J. (2018). What genetic concept(s) do you think are the hardest for the students to grasp? Trends in Genetics, 34(3), 162–164.

Mujayapura, M. R. R., Suryadi, K., & Sardin, S. (2021). Covid-19 misinformation: How does scientific information literacy prevent it? PEDAGOGIK: Jurnal Pendidikan, 8(1), 39–76.

Murti, P. R., Aminah, N. S., & Harjana. (2018). The analysis of high school students’ science literacy based on Nature of Science Literacy Test (NOSLiT). Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1097, 012003.

Naqvi, A. A. T., Fatima, K., Mohammad, T., Fatima, U., Singh, I. K., Singh, A., Atif, S. M., Hariprasad, G., Hasan, G. M., & Hassan, Md. I. (2020). Insights into SARS-CoV-2 genome, structure, evolution, pathogenesis and therapies: Structural genomics approach. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)—Molecular Basis of Disease, 1866(10), 165878.

Nugrahanto, S., & Zuchdi, D. (2019). Indonesia PISA result and impact on the reading learning program in Indonesia. Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, 297(Icille 2018), 373–377.

Nur’aini, D., Rahardjo, S. B., & Susanti, V. H. E. (2018). Student’s profile about science literacy in Surakarta. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1022, 12016.

Nur’azizah, R., Utami, B., & Hastuti, B. (2021). The relationship between critical thinking skills and students learning motivation with students’ learning achievement about buffer solution in eleventh grade science program. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1842, 012038.

Okediya, P. (2020). China coronavirus bioweapon conspiracy theory: The application of international humanitarian law by states. SSRN Electronic Journal.

Olaimat, A. N., Aolymat, I., Shahbaz, H. M., & Holley, R. A. (2020). Knowledge and information sources about COVID-19 among university students in Jordan: A cross-sectional study. Frontiers in Public Health, 8.

Olum, R., Kajjimu, J., Kanyike, A. M., Chekwech, G., Wekha, G., Nassozi, D. R., Kemigisa, J., Mulyamboga, P., Muhoozi, O. K., Nsenga, L., Lyavala, M., Asiimwe, A., & Bongomin, F. (2020). Perspective of medical students on the COVID-19 pandemic: Survey of nine medical schools in Uganda. JMIR Public Health and Surveillance, 6(2), e19847.

Pachetti, M., Marini, B., Benedetti, F., Giudici, F., Mauro, E., Storici, P., Masciovecchio, C., Angeletti, S., Ciccozzi, M., Gallo, R. C., Zella, D., & Ippodrino, R. (2020). Emerging SARS-CoV-2 mutation hot spots include a novel RNA-dependent-RNA polymerase variant. Journal of Translational Medicine, 18(1), 179.

Primasari, R., Miarsyah, M., & Rusdi, R. (2020). Science literacy, critical thinking skill, and motivation: A correlational study. JPBI (Jurnal Pendidikan Biologi Indonesia), 6(2), 273–282.

Rahardjanto, A., Husamah, H., & Fauzi, A. (2019). Hybrid-PjBL: Learning outcomes, creative thinking skills, and learning motivation of preservice teacher. International Journal of Instruction, 12(2), 179–192.

Ramdiah, S., Abidinsyah, H., & Mayasari, R. (2018). Problem-based learning: Generates higher-order thinking skills of tenth graders in ecosystem concept. Jurnal Pendidikan Biologi Indonesia, 4(1), 29.

Reddy, D. (2021). Scientific literacy, public engagement and responsibility in science. Cultures of Science, 4(1), 6–16.

Roberts, D. A., & Bybee, R. W. (2014). Scientific literacy, science literacy, and science education. In Handbook of Research on Science Education, Volume II. Routledge.

Romer, D., & Jamieson, K. H. (2020). Conspiracy theories as barriers to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. Social Science and Medicine, 263, 113356.

Rull, V. (2014). The most important application of science. EMBO Reports, 15(9), 919–922.

Scherer, R., & Beckmann, J. F. (2014). The acquisition of problem solving competence: Evidence from 41 countries that math and science education matters. Large-Scale Assessments in Education, 2(1), 10.

Şen, C., & Veklri, G. S. (2016). The impact of inquiry based instruction on science process skills and self-efficacy perceptions of pre-service science teachers at a university level biology laboratory. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 4(3), 603–612.

Shahsavari, S., Holur, P., Wang, T., Tangherlini, T. R., & Roychowdhury, V. (2020). Conspiracy in the time of corona: Automatic detection of emerging COVID-19 conspiracy theories in social media and the news. Journal of Computational Social Science, 3(2), 279–317.

Sharon, A. J., & Baram‐Tsabari, A. (2020). Can science literacy help individuals identify misinformation in everyday life? Science Education, 104(5), 873–894.

Singh, S., & Singh, S. (2016). What is scientific literacy: A review paper. International Journal of Academic Research and Development, 1(2), 15–20.

Singler, B. (2015). Big Bad Pharma. Nova Religio, 19(2), 17–29.

Soares, F. B., Recuero, R., Volcan, T., Fagundes, G., & Sodré, G. (2021). Research note: Bolsonaro’s firehose: How Covid-19 disinformation on WhatsApp was used to fight a government political crisis in Brazil. Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review.

Sondakh, J. J. S., Warastuti, W., Susatia, B., Wildan, Moh., Sunindya, B. R., Budiyanto, Moch. A. K., & Fauzi, A. (2022). Indonesia medical students’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices toward COVID-19. Heliyon, 8(1), e08686.

Stephens, M. (2020). A geospatial infodemic: Mapping Twitter conspiracy theories of COVID-19. Dialogues in Human Geography, 10(2), 276–281.

Tang, D., Comish, P., & Kang, R. (2020). The hallmarks of COVID-19 disease. PLoS Pathogens, 16(5), 1–24.

Turiman, P., Omar, J., Daud, A. M., & Osman, K. (2012). Fostering the 21st century skills through scientific literacy and science process skills. Procedia—Social and Behavioral Sciences, 59, 110–116.

Ullah, I., Khan, K. S., Tahir, M. J., Ahmed, A., & Harapan, H. (2021). Myths and conspiracy theories on vaccines and COVID-19: Potential effect on global vaccine refusals. Vacunas, 22(2), 93–97.

van der Linden, S., Roozenbeek, J., & Compton, J. (2020). Inoculating against fake news about COVID-19. Frontiers in Psychology, 11(October), 1–7.

Verma, A., Singh, M. K., & Pareek, A. (2020). Information, misinformation, and disinformation about COVID-19: A content study of closed-cross platform messaging using Whatsapp. International Journal of Advance Science and Technology, 29(10), 7797–7804.

Westwell, M., & Panizzon, D. (2018). Becoming explorers of our world: The purpose of science education. Connecting with Science Education, December, 22–40.

Winarni, E. W., & Purwandari, E. P. (2020). Project-based learning to improve scientific literacy for primary education postgraduate students in science subject. Jurnal Prima Edukasia, 8(1), 67–77.

Wu, D., Wu, T., Liu, Q., & Yang, Z. (2020). The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak: What we know. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 94, 44–48.

Yaqinuddin, A. (2013). Problem-based learning as an instructional method. Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan, 23(5), 83–85.

Zhang, H., Rostami, M. R., Leopold, P. L., Mezey, J. G., O’Beirne, S. L., Strulovici-Barel, Y., & Crystal, R. G. (2020). Expression of the SARS-CoV-2 ACE2 receptor in the human airway epithelium. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 202(2), 219–229.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Indexed by:




© Copyright CC BY-SA

Web Analytics View My Stats

Muslim Education Review, p-ISSN: 2829-1867, e-ISSN: 2962-6463