Chapter

International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching

pp 377-399

Date:

History and Philosophy of Science and the Teaching of Evolution: Students’ Conceptions and Explanations

  • Kostas KampourakisAffiliated withBiology Section and IUFE, University of Geneva Email author 
  • , Ross H. NehmAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

A large body of work in science education indicates that evolution is one of the least understood and accepted scientific theories. Although scholarship from the history and philosophy of science (HPS) has shed light on many conceptual and pedagogical issues in evolution education, HPS-informed studies of evolution education are also characterized by conceptual weaknesses. In this chapter, we critically review such studies and find that some work lacks historically accurate characterizations of student ideas (preconceptions and misconceptions). In addition, although several studies in the science education literature have drawn parallels between students’ conceptual change patterns and those from the history of science (HOS), we identify several issues that complicate the characterization of student ideas as “Lamarckian” or “Darwinian.” Finally, a review of the topic of explanation illustrates how the plurality of approaches employed in evolutionary biology is not reflected in evolution education scholarship or practice. This finding is particularly concerning given the recent shift in emphasis in science education standards to teaching content through practice-based tasks (e.g., explanation and argumentation). Overall, this chapter demonstrates that while HPS is of central importance to a deep understanding of evolution education, too often its contributions are poorly realized.