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Teaching Evolution

This Special Edition of the McGill Journal of Education (vol. 42, no.2) is freely available online. In its preface, the editors, Jason Wiles of McGill University and Anila Asghar of Johns Hopkins University write:
"... the teaching and learning of evolution has faced difficulties ranging from pedagogical obstacles to social controversy. These include two distinctive sets of problems: one arising from the fact that many evolutionary concepts may seem, at least initially, counterintuitive to students, and the other deriving from objections rooted in religion. Despite the overwhelming acceptance of evolution among scientists and despite evolution's centrality to modern biology, virtually all national polls indicate approximately one-half of North Americans reject evolution -- suggesting that they think scientists, textbooks, and teachers are simply wrong."

To read the online articles, CLICK HERE ,
and click on the ABSTRACT or PDF link to the right of each title desired.

Further excerpts from the editorial include:
"A past editor of The American Biology Teacher, one of the most widely circulated journals of life science education in North America, has argued that evolution education is the biggest failure of science education from top to bottom."

Three themes are emphasized: "the need for improved teacher training in pedagogical techniques and content knowledge with regard to evolution, the need for effective classroom tools for teaching evolution, and the need to confront specific issues related to social controversies surrounding evolution education."

Contributor Randy Moore summarizes the "reports from students in university classrooms, of what was taught about evolution in the high schools they attended." Brian Alters focuses on "research exploring the attitudes and understandings of pre-service elementary school teachers with regard to evolution [finding] that while their knowledge of evolutionary science is generally rudimentary at best, there is wide variation among these future teachers as to their intentions for teaching about evolution..."

Articles by Robert Pennock, Judy Scotchmoor & Anastasia Thanukos, and Jeff Dodick discuss several new resources for teaching evolution. Glenn Branch praised one book as being a useful handbook for "any instructor who teaches any aspect of evolution at the post-secondary level." Andrew Petto shares his review of another book he claims "might be revolutionary with regard to implications about how and what we teach about evolution."

Craig Nelson (one of the three co-directors of ENSI) "stresses the importance of addressing students'
prior misconceptions about evolution" and strategies for doing this. Massimo Pigliucci calls for science educators to look to the science of neurobiology for new insight into how we should teach science in general and evolution in particular." Both of these authors, while encouraging educators to engage and work to dispel students' preconceptions about evolution, they also warn against misinterpretation and misuse of their suggestions that could support creationist campaigns to interject faith-based opposition to evolution in the classroom. Eugenie Scott, in her article, further alerts teachers to the seemingly innocuous "teach the controversy" or "critical analysis of evolution" ploys by creationists to subvert the teaching of evolution.

To read the online articles, go to http://mje.mcgill.ca/issue/view/54, and click on the ABSTRACT or PDF link to the right of each title desired.

Here is the Table of Contents for the volume:

Evolution Education McGill J of Ed
Vol 42, No 2 (2007)
McGill Journal of Education
Table of Contents
Editorial

AN EFFORT TO ENCOURAGE DIALOGUE AROUND THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF EVOLUTION / UN EFFORT POUR ENCOURAGER LE DIALOGUE QUANT À L'ENSEIGNEMENT ET L'APPRENTISSAGE DE L'ÉVOLUTION PDF
Jason R. Wiles, Anila Asghar

Articles
WHAT ARE STUDENTS TAUGHT ABOUT EVOLUTION? / QU'ENSEIGNE-T-ON AUX ÉTUDIANTS À PROPOS DE L'ÉVOLUTION ? Abstract PDF
Randy Moore

CANADIAN PRE-SERVICE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS' CONCEPTIONS OF BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION AND EVOLUTION EDUCATION / CONCEPTIONS DES FUTURS ENSEIGNANTS CANADIENS À L'ÉLÉMENTAIRE SUR L'ÉVOLUTION BIOLOGIQUE ET L'ENSEIGNEMENT DE L'ÉVOLUTION
Anila Asghar, Jason R. Wiles, Brian Alters

LEARNING EVOLUTION AND THE NATURE OF SCIENCE USING EVOLUTIONARY COMPUTING AND ARTIFICIAL LIFE / APPRENDRE L'ÉVOLUTION ET LA NATURE DES SCIENCES AU MOYEN DU CALCUL ÉVOLUTIONNISTE ET DE LA VIE ARTIFICIELLE Abstract PDF
Robert T. Pennock

BUILDING AN UNDERSTANDING OF EVOLUTION: AN ONLINE RESOURCE FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING / DÉVELOPPER UNE COMPRÉHENSION DE L'ÉVOLUTION : UNE RESSOURCE EN LIGNE POUR L'ENSEIGNEMENT ET L'APPRENTISSAGE Abstract PDF
Judy Scotchmoor, Anastasia Thanukos

UNDERSTANDING EVOLUTIONARY CHANGE WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF GEOLOGICAL TIME / COMPRENDRE LE CHANGEMENT ÉVOLUTIF AU SEIN DE LA STRUCTURE DU TEMPS GÉOLOGIQUE
Jeff Dodick

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE "TEACH THE CONTROVERSY" SLOGAN? / EN QUOI LE SLOGAN « ENSEIGNER LA CONTROVERSE » POSE T'IL LE PROBLÈME ? Abstract PDF
Eugenie C. Scott

Opinion
TEACHING EVOLUTION EFFECTIVELY: A CENTRAL DILEMMA AND ALTERNATIVE STRATEGIES / ENSEIGNER EFFICACEMENT L'ÉVOLUTION : UN DILEMME CENTRAL ET STRATÉGIES PARALLÈLES
Craig E. Nelson

THE EVOLUTION-CREATION WARS: WHY TEACHING MORE SCIENCE JUST IS NOT ENOUGH / LA DISCORDE ÉVOLUTION-CRÉATIONNISME : POURQUOI UN ENSEIGNEMENT ACCRU DES SCIENCES NE SUFFIT PAS Abstract PDF
Massimo Pigliucci

Book Reviews
TEACHING BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION IN HIGHER EDUCATION: METHODOLOGICAL, RELIGIOUS, AND NONRELIGIOUS ISSUES (By: Brian Alters) PDF Reviewed by: Glenn Branch

THE PLAUSIBILITY OF LIFE: RESOLVING DARWIN'S DILEMMA (By: Marc W. Kirschner & John C. Gerhardt) Reviewed by: Andrew J. Petto

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