Evolution Is a Model, Why Not Teach It That Way?

Chapter
Part of the Models and Modeling in Science Education book series (MMSE, volume 7)

Abstract

This chapter describes the author’s Evolution Readiness project1and the teaching materials it has produced. These materials present themselves to students as engaging video games built on a manipulable model that embodies natural selectionas an explanatory mechanismfor the adaptations of organisms to their environments. The games offer challenges that guide students’ progress from reasoning about individuals to exploring the behavior of populations of organisms over many generations. One goal of this work is to create the technological base required to support an approach to biology education based on natural selection. The teleological aspect of biology—the fact that organisms appear to be designed for particular purposes—is not treated very well in the traditional US K-12 curriculum which mostly deals with data (what do we see when we observe the living world?) rather than process (how did it get that way?). This is hardly surprising, given that the processes responsible for adaptation are slow acting, indirect, and difficult to observe. We describe the design principles behind the creation of interactive learning activitiesthat can overcome these problems and, in symbiosis with textbooks, laboratory experiments, and field observations, help students to hone their biological reasoning skills.

Keywords

Light Level Pedagogical Content Knowledge Rabbit Population Traditional Curriculum Laboratory Notebook 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

The research described in this chapter was supported by grant number 0822213 from the United States National Science Foundation. I am deeply grateful to his colleagues, Carolyn Staudt, Cynthia McIntyre, and Trudi Lord, of Concord Consortium, and Laura O’Dwyer and Camelia Rosca, of Boston College, for their contributions to the project itself and for numerous insightful conversations on this and many other topics.

References

  1. Horwitz, P. (2010). Teaching and assessing “evolution readiness” to fourth graders using games.Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting, Denver, CO.Google Scholar
  2. Horwitz, P., & Christie, M. A. (2000). Computer-based manipulatives for teaching scientific reasoning: An example. In M. Jacobson (Ed.), Innovations in science and mathematics education: Advanced designs for technologies of learning. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.Google Scholar
  3. Horwitz, P., Gobert, J., Buckley, B., & O’Dwyer, L. (2009). Learning genetics with dragons: From computer-based manipulatives to hypermodels. In M. J. Jacobson & P. Reimann (Eds.), Designs for learning environments of the future: International perspectives from the learning sciences. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  4. Ottino-Loffler, J., Rand, W., & Wilensky, U. (2007). Co-evolution of predators and prey in a spatial model. Paper presented at the genetic and evolutionary computation conference, London.Google Scholar
  5. Rosca, C., O’Dwyer, L., Lord, T., & Horwitz, P. (2010). Ready, set, go, evolution! @ Concord, 14(2), 4–6.Google Scholar
  6. Scott, E. C. (2004). Evolution vs. creationism: An introduction. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  7. Sinatra, G. M., & Nadelson, L. (2010). Science and religion: Ontologically different epistemologies. In R. S. Taylor & M. Ferrari (Eds.), Epistemology and science education. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Sparks, S. (2010, November 17). Efforts to improve evolution teaching bearing fruit. Education Week, pp. 16–17.Google Scholar
  9. Verhey, S. D. (2005). The effect of engaging prior learning on student attitudes toward creationism and evolution. Bioscience, 55(11), 996–1003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Wilenski, U., & Novak, M. (2010). Teaching and learning evolution as an emergent process: The beagle project. In R. Taylor & M. Ferrari (Eds.), Epistemology and science education. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Modeling CenterConcord ConsortiumConcordUSA

Personalised recommendations