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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  

Werth A. J.. (2009). Clearing the highest hurdle: Human-based case studies broaden studentsí knowledge of core evolutionary concepts. The Journal of Effective Teaching, 9(2), 38-53.  [Full Text]


An anonymous survey instrument was used for a ten year study to gauge college student attitudes toward evolution. Results indicate that students are most likely to accept evolution as a historical process for change in physical features of non-human organisms. They are less likely to accept evolution as an ongoing process that shapes all traits (including biochemical, physiological, and behavioral) in humans. Students who fail to accept the factual nature of human evolution do not gain an accurate view of evolution, let alone modern biology. Fortunately, because of studentsí natural curiosity about their bodies and related topics (e.g., medicine, vestigial features, human prehistory), a pedagogical focus on human evolution provides a fun and effective way to teach core evolutionary concepts, as quantified by the survey. Results of the study are presented along with useful case studies involving human evolution.


Keywords: Survey, pedagogy, biology, evolution, Darwin.