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Title:Natural selection successfully taught
Author(s):Langley, Raymond Garold
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Spiro, Rand J.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Sciences
Education, Curriculum and Instruction
Abstract:Natural selection, one of biology's most important concepts, has proven vexing to both teach and learn. Polanyi's concept of tacit knowledge and Broudy's concept of "knowing with" served as the basis for developing materials to teach natural selection. These materials sought to make explicit to students the tacit aspects of evolutionary thought and discourse by providing supplementary text and illustrations to accompany short essays discussing different evolutionary phenomena. In addition, the illustrations and supplementary text served to provide students with clear and focused presentations of aspects of natural selection that often prove confusing or counterintuitive. The materials were also interdisciplinary in character, discussing natural selection in the contexts of medicine, computing, and history, as well as pure evolutionary biology. The materials were tested in an experiment comparing students who studied the materials with students who read essays on evolution typical of discussions in current textbooks, without the supplementary text or illustrations. Students studying the materials showed marked improvements in their understanding of natural selection, overcoming misconceptions demonstrated in other studies and outperforming students in the control group. Results of a survey of students' belief in and philosophical attitudes towards evolution are presented. The importance of teaching natural selection, educational implications of the concept of tacit knowledge, the importance of interdisciplinary teaching, and generative thinking are also discussed.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Langley, Raymond Garold
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9702572
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9702572

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