Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Scharmann L. C., 2020, "Insights into nature of science and evolution education" Research OUTREACH(112). Available at:


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


While the public misunderstanding of evolution is in part due to religious and political motives, it is also a result of didactic teaching. Dr Lawrence C. Scharmann, Professor of Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, specialises in science teacher education. He has been working with non-major biology and science teacher students developing strategies to enhance the teaching and learning of science theories, and in particular, evolution. Many secondary school students and undergraduates hold a dualistic worldview. This leads them to create dichotomies, albeit false ones, such as right vs wrong and science vs religion. These can obstruct their learning science at a more theoretical level. Professor Scharmann explains that “encouraging students to consider scientific theories as important tools that provide scientists with explanatory power, predictive capacity, and utility (in solving scientific problems) often leads to a revision of their worldview and even to a rejection of previously held false dichotomies.”

In an analysis of his work dating from 1985, Professor Scharmann examines the changes in evolution teaching. Based on his own personal experiences, as well as researchinformed practices, he believes that evolution education depends on the effective teaching of nature of science (NOS) before introducing evolution to students. NOS involves recognising that scientific knowledge is based on assumptions and science is underpinned by various levels of uncertainty together with biases and a variety of social aspects.