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Online Course for Teachers: Teaching Evolution

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 About the Online Course for Teachers

Course Information: Course Structure

Eight course sessions answer essential questions about evolution and teaching evolution. The sessions cover: key content about evolution (sessions 1-5); methodologies for teaching evolution in high school classrooms (sessions 6-7); and strategies for dealing with controversy that may arise in teaching evolution (session 8).

Session 1: What Is the Nature of Science?
Explores how the processes of science develop our understanding of the natural world and reflects on the value and limits of scientific process.

Session 2: How Does Darwin's Theory of Evolution Illustrate the Process of Science?
Traces the development of evolutionary thought and how Darwin's development of his theory of natural selection illustrates the process of science.

Session 3: What is the Evidence for Evolution?
Examines the fossil, biogeographical, anatomical, and molecular evidence that supports evolution.

Session 4: What Are the Processes for Evolution?
Investigates the selective and non-selective mechanisms for evolution as well as adaptations, speciation, coevolution, and convergent evolution.

Session 5: How Did Humans Evolve? Is Evolution Still Happening?
Traces the evolution of humans, including the two major adaptive advantages -- bipedalism and big brains -- as well as the significance of evolution in society today.

Session 6: How Can You Address Student Misconceptions about Evolution?
Explores an array of instructional strategies for surfacing and addressing misconceptions about evolution.

Session 7: How Can You Use Active Learning to Teach Evolution?
Explores different strategies for creating an active learning environment for teaching evolution.

Session 8: How Can You Deal with Controversy?
Provides insight into how to handle controversy around the teaching of evolution.

A Constructivist Approach
Each session progresses through the "Five E's": Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.* The Five E's are based on the assumption that adults, as well as children, acquire knowledge by constructing it for themselves and building on what they already know. Educators may find the Five E's useful in their own teaching. Each of the sessions contains activities that progress from Engage to Evaluate; we recommend you follow the E's in order to experience constructivist learning.

*Instructional model developed by Rodger Bybee and the Biological Science Curriculum Study

Engage: Initiates the learning task, makes connections between past and present learning experiences, and focuses thinking on the learning outcomes of the current activity.

Explore: Provides a common base of experiences within which current concepts, processes, and skills are identified and developed.

Explain: Focuses attention on a particular aspect of the engage and explore experiences. Also, provides opportunities for participants to develop explanations and for teachers to introduce concepts, processes, or skills.

Elaborate: Challenges and extends participants' conceptual understanding and skills. Through new experiences, participants develop deeper and broader understanding, acquire more information, and refine skills.

Evaluate: Encourages participants to assess their understanding and abilities and provides opportunities for teachers to evaluate student progress toward achieving the learning outcomes.

(Adapted from Rodger Bybee, Achieving Scientific Literacy: From Purposes to Practices. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1997, pp. 176-185.)

Next: Materials & Resources

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