MUSE | Natural Selection
the conceptual cornerstone of biology, provides a lens though which each
of the sub-disciplines in the biological sciences can be viewed. As such,
evolution is to biology what atomic theory is to the physical sciences;
a point made over three decades ago by Theodozius Dobshansky in his oft-quoted
assertion that "nothing in biology makes sense except in light of
evolution" (1973). More recently, the centralness of evolution to
an education in science has been prominently featured in the two most
influential U.S. science education reform documents - the National
Science Education Standards and the Benchmarks
for Scientific Literacy. However, by many accounts, evolutionary biology,
when taught at all in the nationís high schools, is taught
as a set of assertions, leaving students with few insights into what problems
are important to evolutionary biologists or how they conduct inquiries
to solve those problems.
To accomplish this we have created a classroom that has the look and feel of a community of evolutionary biologists, in which students strive to understand the natural selection model and all that it entails. In this classroom students have numerous and varied opportunities to solve realistic problems and engage in public presentation and debate concerning their problem solving. Much of this is accomplished by having the students interact with data-rich cases. Because they provide many opportunities to think with and about powerful ideas in evolutionary biology, students are exposed to the following concepts and cognitive skills.
At this site you will find more complete descriptions of the unit as well as the specific instructional materials that comprise the unit. Accompanying each of these descriptions are valuable supplementary materials including: teacherís notes about the actual implementation of the materials; descriptions of common misconceptions that have been reported in the literature related to the content of the material; examples of student work; examples of assessments used; pictures, video, and audio of the classrooms; and descriptions of the intended learning outcomes for students.
Educational research has identified particular difficulties, or roadblocks, that are common for students as they learn natural selection concepts. Here you will find several specifics that we feel can be particulary problematic for students as they learn natural selection.
Click on the icon to the left to learn how to successfully navigate these roadblocks.