Why Don't Undergraduates Really “Get” Evolution? What Can Faculty Do?

Craig E. Nelson

in Evolution Challenges

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730421
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949557 | DOI:
Why Don't Undergraduates Really “Get” Evolution? What Can Faculty Do?

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Scientists frequently attribute public misunderstanding of evolution to religious or political influences. Ineffective undergraduate teaching has also contributed. Faculty often ignored strong pedagogical evidence. Five research conclusions are discussed: The traditional lecture approach is inadequate. Active learning is much more effective. Fundamental reasoning difficulties limit students’ understanding. Simple steps help overcome these. Misconceptions typically persist unless directly addressed with a conceptual-change approach. Evolution is a complex set of ideas that cannot be adequately understood without advanced critical thinking. This is infrequently mastered without intentionally designed learning tasks. Understanding evolution is typically insufficient for its acceptance. But acceptance as valid for real-world decisions is important. This requires helping students consider social and affective factors related to evolution.

Keywords: misconceptions; conceptual-change; intentional design; evolution acceptance

Chapter.  16743 words. 

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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