Evolution Challenges Integrating Research and Practice in Teaching and Learning about Evolution

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-04-25
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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A recent poll revealed that one in four Americans believe in both creationism and evolution, while another 41% believe that creationism is true and evolution is false. A minority (only 13%) believe only in evolution. Given the widespread resistance to the idea that humans and other animals have evolved and given the attention to the ongoing debate of what should be taught in public schools, issues related to the teaching and learning of evolution are quite timely. Evolution Challenges: Integrating Research and Practice in Teaching and Learning about Evolutiongoes beyond the science versus religion dispute to ask why evolution is so often rejected as a legitimate scientific fact, focusing on a wide range of cognitive, socio-cultural, and motivational factors that make concepts such as evolution difficult to grasp. The volume brings together researchers with diverse backgrounds in cognitive development and education to examine children's and adults' thinking, learning, and motivation, and how aspects of representational and symbolic knowledge influence learning about evolution. The book is organized around three main challenges inherent in teaching and learning evolutionary concepts: folk theories and conceptual biases, motivational and epistemological biases, and educational aspects in both formal and informal settings. Commentaries across the three main themes tie the book together thematically, and contributors provide ideas for future research and methods for improving the manner in which evolutionary concepts are conveyed in the classroom and in informal learning experiences.Evolution Challengesis a unique text that extends far beyond the traditional evolution debate and is an invaluable resource to researchers in cognitive development, science education and the philosophy of science, science teachers, and exhibit and curriculum developers.

Author Biography

Karl S. Rosengren is a Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University. He has published widely in the fields of cognitive and motor development. In his current research he examines cultural influences in the development of causal reasoning and how children acquire different types of beliefs. He is a fellow of APS.

Sarah K. Brem is an Associate Professor in the School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. A cognitive scientist, her research focuses on public use and understanding of scientific and technical information. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Early Career Award.

E. Margaret Evans is an Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan. Her research, funded by NSF and the Spencer Foundation, focuses on the cognitive and cultural factors influencing the developmental of scientific and religious concepts. In her current studies she investigates the emergence of developmental learning progressions for evolution as children and their parents encounter museum exhibitions on evolution.

Gale M. Sinatra is a Professor at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. She has served as an editor of Educational Psychologist and the Vice President of AERA's Division C, Learning and Instruction. She is a fellow of APA and AERA. Her research focuses on the role of emotions and motivation in reasoning about socio-scientific issues.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xv
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Contributorsp. xix
Folk Theories, Conceptual and Perceptual Constraints
"Two-Thousand Years of Stasis": How Psychological Essentialism Impedes Evolutionary Understandingp. 3
Trees, Fish, and Other Fictions: Folk Biological Thought and Its Implications for Understanding Evolutionary Biologyp. 22
Cognitive Constraints on the Understanding and Acceptance of Evolutionp. 47
Teleological Minds: How Natural Intuitions about Agency and Purpose Influence Learning about Evolutionp. 66
The Promise and Challenges of Introducing Tree Thinking into Evolution Educationp. 93
Narrative Spaces in the Representation and Understanding of Evolutionp. 119
Misunderstanding Emergent Causal Mechanism in Natural Selectionp. 145
Encountering Counterintuitive Ideas: Constructing a Developmental Learning Progression for Evolution Understandingp. 174
Commentary on Section I: Constrained Learning: Reframing the Problem of Evolution Understanding and Implications for Science Educationp. 200
Epistemological Issues
Model-Based Instruction: Fostering Change in Evolutionary Conceptions and in Epistemic Practicesp. 211
Why Don't Americans Accept Evolution as Much as People in Peer Nations Do? A Theory (Reinforced Theistic Manifest Destiny) and Some Pertinent Evidencep. 233
Heuristics and the Counterintuitive in Science and Religionp. 270
Implementing Education in Evolution: Formal Education
Challenges and Opportunities for Teaching and Designing Effective K-12 Evolution Curriculap. 287
Why Don't Undergraduates Really "Get" Evolution? What Can Faculty Do?p. 311
An Intentional Approach to Teaching Evolution: Making Students Aware of the Factors Influencing Learning of Microevolution and Macroevolutionp. 348
Implementing Education in Evolution: Informal Education
Pattern and Process: Natural History Museum Exhibits on Evolutionp. 375
Walking Whales and Singing Flies: An Evolution Exhibit and Assessment of Its Impactp. 389
Making Connections: Evolution and the Nature and Process of Sciencep. 410
Commentary on Section II: Bringing Multiple Levels of Analysis to Bear on Evolution Teaching and Learningp. 428
Author Indexp. 443
Subject Indexp. 453
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