Curriculum and Education Article

Evolution: Education and Outreach

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 293-297

First online:

A Three-Step Method for Teaching the Principles of Evolution to Non-Biology Major Undergraduates

  • Cameron M. SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Portland State University Email author 


A method for teaching the principles of evolution in a 50-minute lecture for undergraduate non-biology majors is described. The method “unpacks” evolution into three observable, factual occurrences: replication (R, reproduction), variation (V, differences between parent and offspring and siblings), and selection (S, nonrandom differential survival of offspring). This method has been particularly effective in demonstrating to students that evolution is the factual, unintended consequence of three independent phenomena (R, V, S).


Teaching evolution Undergraduate instruction Pedagogy