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Evolution, Education and Evaluation: Tree-thinking in Intro Biology. Phil Gibson OU TSI October 20, 2011. Miller, J.D., E.C. Scott, and S. Okamato. 2006. Public Acceptance of Evolution. Science . 313: 765-766. The Basic Ideas of Tree-thinking.

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Evolution education and evaluation tree thinking in intro biology

Evolution, Education and Evaluation: Tree-thinking inIntro Biology

Phil Gibson

OU TSI October 20, 2011

Miller j d e c scott and s okamato 2006 public acceptance of evolution science 313 765 766
Miller, J.D., E.C. Scott, and S. Okamato. 2006. Public Acceptance of Evolution. Science. 313: 765-766.

The basic ideas of tree thinking
The Basic Ideas of Tree-thinking Acceptance of Evolution.

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973)

“Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of phylogeny.” (Society of Systematic Biologists 2001).

“Nothing makes sense in phylogeny except in the light of DNA.” (Kalinowski et al. 2010)

Tree-Thinking Acceptance of Evolution.

Tree-Thinking Acceptance of Evolution.

What we want to know
What we want to know Acceptance of Evolution.

  • Question #1: What is the relationship between ability to read phylogenetic trees relate and acceptance of evolution?

  • Question #2: How does student understanding of natural selection and genetics relate to understanding and acceptance of evolution?

  • Question #3: Will a tree-thinking based curriculum using active learning modules improve student understanding and acceptance of evolution and evolutionary theory?

BIOL 1134 Evolution, Ecology, & Diversity Acceptance of Evolution.

1. Encourage understanding and appreciation for major, modern biological thought and theories:

  • Unity and diversity of life (DNA and genetic variation)

  • History of life (evolution and phylogeny)

  • Relationship between structure and function (adaptation)

  • Focus on life at the individual, population, community, and ecosystem levels (hierarchical organization, interdependence)

  • Develop student skills, understanding, and appreciation for the nature of science.

    • Thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving in biology.

    • Prediction and hypothesis testing in science.

    • Data collection, analysis, and interpretation

    • Group collaboration and interactions.

  • Tree thinking curriculum structure
    Tree-thinking Curriculum Structure Acceptance of Evolution.

    DNA & Genetics

    Inheritance & Pedigrees


    Read & Construct Trees


    Concepts & Mechanisms


    (Biodiversity surveys, adaptations, speciation etc.)

    Components of the curriculum
    Components of the curriculum. Acceptance of Evolution.

    • Genetic basis of phylogeny & tree thinking: genetics, inheritance, and population genetics

    • Principles of tree-thinking: how-to of phylogeny construction and interpretation

    • Application of tree-thinking: opportunities to collect and analyze data, processes of hypothesis development and testing

    • Modules: Case study, group inquiry, active learning

    Pedigree analysis genetics
    Pedigree Analysis & Genetics Acceptance of Evolution.

    A deadly passion evolution of sexual cannibalism
    A Deadly Passion: Evolution of Sexual Cannibalism Selection


    Praying mantis

    Australian redback spider

    Assessment evaluation
    Assessment & Evaluation Selection

    • Measure of the Acceptance of the Theory of Evolution (MATE): 20 question Likert-scale survey (Rutledge & Sadler 2007)

    • Tree-thinking Challenge, Understanding Phylogenetic Trees, Tree Thinking Concept Inventory Variety of questions to read and construct phylogenetic trees. (Baum et al. 2005, Meir et al. 2007, Neagle 2009)

    • Concept Inventory of Natural Selection, Genetics Concept Assessment (Anderson & Fisher 2002, Smith et al. 2008)

    Deeper analysis the education literature
    Deeper Analysis & the Education Literature Selection

    • The education literature is rich with techniques for further analysis

    • Item Analysis, Discrimination Index calculations, Cronbach’s αprovide further insights that basic statistics don’t reveal.

    • Further analysis of specific questions and answers.

    What we ve learned so far
    What we’ve learned so far. . . Selection

    • Tree-thinking curriculum appears to increase understanding and acceptance of evolutionary theory.

    • Acceptance of evolution is related to tree-thinking ability knowledge of natural selection, and knowledge of genetics.

    • Better assessments are needed.

    • There’s more work to do!

    Acknowledgements Selection

    • National Science Foundation

      • DUE #0940835

    • The University of Oklahoma

      • College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Botany and Microbiology, Department of Zoology

    • J. Cooper, M. Jones, S. Rhodes, A. Makowicz, C. Poindexter, M. Gibson, D. Washecheck

      All research conducted under OU IRB# 12682