The Present Status of Evolution Education

  • Ute HarmsEmail author
  • Michael J. Reiss


Evolution is widely seen as the central, key, unifying framework of biology. Yet many school-aged students and adults understand relatively little of the theory of evolution, for a whole range of reasons ranging from the cognitive difficulty of some of the central concepts to rejection of certain key ideas, whether consciously or unconsciously. Prior to this volume, there have been surprisingly few studies of research-based interventions that attempt to use existing knowledge to propose new pedagogies to try to teach evolution to learners more successfully, whether in schools or elsewhere. Successful learning here might be understood as cognitive gains about evolution, as acceptance of evolution or as an increased desire to continue to learn about it. In this chapter, we review the existing field of evolution education, discussing the reasons why such understanding is limited, whether for cognitive, socio-cultural or affective reasons (Jones & Reiss in Teaching about scientific origins: Taking account of creationism. Peter Lang, New York, 2007; Rosengren et al. in Evolution challenges integrating research and practice in teaching and learning about evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2012; Kampourakis in Understanding evolution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2014; Tracy, Hart and Martens in PLoS ONE, 6(3): e17349, 2011; Newall in School Science Review, 99(3670): 61–66, 2017).


Evolution education Science education research Biology education 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IPN - Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Biology EducationKielGermany
  2. 2.UCL Institute of Education, University College LondonLondonUK

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