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  The Journal of Effective Teaching
an online journal devoted to teaching excellence


Journal of Effective Teaching, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2009  

Schrein, C., Lynch, J. M., Brem, S. K., Marchant, G. E., Schedler, K. K., Spencer, M. A. Kazilek, C. J., & Coulombe, M. G. (2009). Preparing Teachers to Prepare Students for Post-Secondary Science: Observations From a Workshop About Evolution in the Classroom. The Journal of Effective Teaching, 9(2), 69-80. [Full Text]


This paper summarizes the content and results of a workshop about the teaching of evolution presented to public middle school and high school science teachers by individuals involved both in university education and the professional development of teachers. The goals of the workshop were to: (1) provide teachers with knowledge and resources to more effectively teach evolutionary theory, (2) increase teacher awareness of legal and cognitive issues associated with the teaching and learning of evolution, (3) address teacher misconceptions about evolutionary theory, (4) assess teachers’ acceptance of evolutionary theory, and (5) make inferences about the preparedness of Arizona’s public school students for a rigorous university life science curriculum that includes evolutionary biology. Participating teachers created concept maps about evolutionary theory, completed the Measure of Acceptance of the Theory of Evolution (MATE) survey at the beginning and end of the workshop, and responded to a survey the week following the workshop. The results of these measures indicate that some Arizona science teachers have misconceptions about evolutionary theory that may be passed on to their students, and these misconceptions, if not corrected, must be addressed in introductory-level science courses at the university level. Based on feedback from the follow-up survey, different teachers with varying levels of acceptance of evolution are all keen to learn from university educators and attend professional development workshops. Such workshops – and engagement between secondary and tertiary educators - can clearly have an effect on the conceptions of both teachers and students, and thus on the acceptance of evolution generally. We therefore strongly encourage the involvement of university educators in science education outreach that addresses evolutionary theory.


Keywords: Workshop, evolution, teachers, science education, outreach.