Date of this Version
The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 82, No. 2, pp. 104–112
Teaching evolution in high school and in entry-level college courses can be challenging due to the inherent misinformation, misunderstanding, and biases with which students approach the topic. In this setting, it is critical to both teach the basic concepts and address common student misconceptions about evolution. We present two paired activities that allow students to (1) explore the processes of natural selection in a direct and experiential way and (2) address common misconceptions in evolutionary theory. The first activity, the “Natural Selection Game,” has students simulate a bird population and experience shifts in phenotype frequency as a result of selective pressures. Following the end of the game, students discuss the outcomes and connect them to real-life examples. The second activity encourages students to actively research common misconceptions with the use of personal technology in order to distinguish between scientifically supported data and poor information online. Both activities can be incorporated in high school and university-level general biology curricula. They will allow students to connect their firsthand experiences to lecture-based instruction and, as a result, develop a stronger understanding of the mechanisms of evolution.