Human Evolution @ UCL


How to teach human evolution in an effective way

27 January 2016

Questions about our origin as a species are universal and compelling.

A Classroom Evolution-and in particular human evolution-is a subject that generates intense interest across the world, evidenced by the fact that fossil and DNA discoveries grace the covers of major science journals and magazines as well as other popular print and online media.

However, virtually all national polls indicate that the majority of Americans strongly reject biological evolution as a fact-based, well-tested, and robust understanding of the history of life. In the popular mind, no topic in all of science is more contentious or polarizing than evolution and media sources often only serve to magnify this polarization by covering challenges to the teaching of evolution.

In the realm of teaching, debates about evolution have shaped textbooks, curricula, standards, and policy. Challenges to accepting and understanding evolution include mistrust and denial of science, cognitive obstacles and misconceptions, language and terminology, and a religious worldview, among others. Teachers, who are on the front lines of these challenges, must be armed with the tools and techniques to teach evolution in formal education settings across grades K-16 in a straightforward, thorough, and sensitive way. Despite the potentially controversial topic of human evolution, growing research is demonstrating that a pedagogical focus on human examples is an effective and engaging way to teach core concepts of evolutionary biology.

Author: Briana Pobinar

Journal: American Journal of Physical Anthropology

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