Lawrence C. Scharmann http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5470-3922
Date of this Version
Nelson et al., Evolution: Education and Outreach (2019) 12:6
Misunderstandings of the nature of science (NOS) contribute greatly to resistance to evolutionary theory especially among non-scientific audiences. Here we delineate three extended instructional examples that make extensive use of NOS to establish a foundation upon which to more successfully introduce evolution. Specifically, these instructional examples enable students to consider evolutionary biology using NOS as a lens for interpretation of evolutionary concepts. We have further found, through our respective research efforts and instructional experiences, that a deep understanding of NOS helps students understand and accept the scientific validity of evolution and, conversely, that evolution provides an especially effective context for helping students and teachers to develop a deep understanding of the nature of science. Based on our research and instructional experiences, we introduce six key factors necessary for enhanced instructional success in teaching evolution. These factors are: (1) foster a deep understanding of NOS; (2) use NOS as a lens for evolution instruction; (3) explicitly compare evolution to alternative explanations; (4) focus on human evolution (where possible); (5) explicitly recognize the power of historical inference and (6) use active, social learning. Finally, we elaborate and ground these key factors in supporting literature.