International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching

pp 401-421


History and Philosophy of Science and the Teaching of Macroevolution

  • Ross H. NehmAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Evolution and Ph.D. Program in Science Education, Stony Brook University Email author 
  • , Kostas KampourakisAffiliated withBiology Section and IUFE, University of Geneva

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Although macroevolution has been the subject of sustained attention in the history and philosophy of science (HPS) community, only in recent years have science educators begun to more fully engage with the topic. This chapter first explores how science educators have conceptualized macroevolution and how their perspectives align with the views from HPS. Second, it illustrates how science educators’ limited engagement with HPS scholarship on macroevolution has influenced construct delineation, measurement instrument development, and educational arguments about which aspects of macroevolution are most important for students to learn. Third, it discusses how scientific debates about the causal factors responsible for macroevolutionary patterns have been exploited by creationists and have impacted the teaching of evolution. Finally, it emphasizes that the rich perspectives that HPS has to offer on the important topic of macroevolution have yet to be integrated into science education scholarship.