Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Evolution: Education and Outreach (2018) 11:14

doi 10.1186/s12052-018-0088-4


© The Author(s) 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


In this article, I provide an analysis of my work (1985–present) with non-major biology students and science teacher candidates in developing strategies for teaching and enhancing learning with respect to evolutionary science. This first-person account describes changes in evolution instruction over the course of a career based on personal experiences, research-informed practices, and a critical collaboration with colleague Mike U. Smith. I assert four insights concerning the influence and efficacy of teaching nature of science (NOS) prior to the introduction of evolution within college courses for science non-majors and science teacher candidates. These insights are: (a) teach explicit NOS principles first; (b) integrate evolution as a theme throughout a course in introductory biology (but after NOS principles have been introduced); (c) use active learning pedagogies; and (d) use non-threatening alternative assessments to enhance student learning and acceptance of evolutionary science. Together, these insights establish a pedagogy that I (and my colleagues) have found to be efficacious for supporting novice students as they engage in the study of evolutionary science.