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Student World View. And Evolution. Emory University June 2003 Wes McCoy North Cobb High School Kennesaw, Georgia. Today’s Focus. Fear Teaching methods Resources for teaching about evolution Understanding students and world views.

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student world view

Student World View

And Evolution

Emory University June 2003

Wes McCoy

North Cobb High School

Kennesaw, Georgia

today s focus
Today’s Focus
  • Fear
  • Teaching methods
  • Resources for teaching about evolution
  • Understanding students and world views
what do i do if
If all beings evolved by mistakes in DNA, why are mistakes in DNA deadly? Why is nothing evolving today? Why is evolution being taught as fact when it is only a hypothesis?

If all cells come from other cells, how does a cell come from nothing? These evolutionists are proving themselves wrong and America will hear about it. Evolution is a lie.

What do I do if….?
based on kearney s world view model 1984
Based on Kearney’s World View Model (1984)








world view
World View
  • Anthropology: World view consists of the underlying presuppositions upon which all perceptions are based…shared ideas which provide the basis for day-to-day activity within a culture.
  • World view differs from belief.
  • Beliefs are explicitly taught and learned, and can usually be discussed.
examples of world view
Examples of World View
  • Ticklish vs NonTicklish
  • Reading a book is like having a conversation vs book haters
  • Teaching English as a Second language: Easter
  • Photo sorting for classification
assertions classification
  • Students use scientifically unconventional criteria when classifying animals and humans.
  • Physical structures (hairiness)
  • Behaviors (flying, care of young)
  • Location (habitat)
  • Communication (with humans or with each other)
assertions classification11
  • Students do not all understand the term “related” in the same way.
  • Physical similarity
  • Act the same way
  • Communicate with each other
  • Hang around together
  • Used to be alike in the past, along the bloodline.
assertions causality
  • These students all believe that natural processes are planned by a Creator and can be controlled by supernatural intervention.
  • Therefore, students view events as being unconnected…they have difficulty seeing PATTERNS in nature
assertions cause of evolution
Assertions:Cause of Evolution
  • Students understand evolution poorly, in terms of environmental pressure forcing a “need” to change.
  • None recognized mutation as a cause of variation.
  • None recognized evolution in microorganisms.
  • They believe that evolution, when it occurs, is caused by the deliberate intentions of animals.
assertions evolution
  • Students do not all understand terminology the way scientists might:
  • Related, relationship
  • Genetic, inherited.
  • Species, population, mutation.
  • Adaptation
  • Evolve: meaning planned or intentional change
penny on evolution
Penny on Evolution
  • “I guess like you could start off with legs or something, and then if you swam in the water and didn’t really need legs, you’d just kind of wiggled around to propel yourself through the water... I guess your legs would keep getting shorter and shorter, things would get smaller and smaller, and eventually I guess they wouldn’t come out with legs since they didn’t have any use for them.”
assertions causality16
Assertions: Causality
  • Students believe the natural world to be unpredictable.
  • They see few patterns in the living world.
  • Each phenomenon is seen as a unique event.
  • Evolution happens “sometimes”, if at all, rather than a universal phenomenon that occurs for all species.
causality separate worlds
Causality: Separate Worlds
  • Students often kept their view of the natural world separate from their views of how things “really work”.
  • There is a strong division between “everyday thinking” and “scientific thinking”.
julie on evolution
Julie on Evolution
  • Me: Do you think that is a pretty accurate idea of where we came from?
  • Julie: Yes
  • Me: Does the chart show what really happened?
  • Julie: Yeah
  • Me: What do you think are the origins of humans? Where do you think people came from?
julie on evolution cont
Julie on Evolution (cont.)
  • Julie: Um, I don’t know. I mean you mean about God? Or scientifically?
  • Me: Whatever you think is true.
  • Julie: I think they came from God.
  • Me: How do you think people got here?
  • Julie: God put them here….He made them from like clay and stuff.
darlene on science religion
Darlene on Science & Religion
  • “I know that there’s other possibilities. I know that scientists they can be right. Just cause they’re not Christians or something doesn’t mean they can’t be right. It just means, you know, they might believe that they got here by God. I mean, God had to get it here some way and so they could be right, too.”
assertions social pressures
Assertions:Social Pressures
  • Some students were emboldened by an audience.
  • Other students suppressed and even altered their stated opinions in the presence of peers.
  • Students hold implicit theories of the world that are based as much on personal feeling as thinking.
cultural views of the natural world
Cultural Views of the Natural World
  • World view coevolves with the complex network of social practices that bind a community together.
  • Each student explained the natural world based on their own personal experience as a student, an adolescent, a religious person, a person who cares for animals, and as a potentially powerful adult.
science everyday thinking
Science & Everyday Thinking
  • Students separate scientific thinking from everyday thinking.
  • Changing your mind in science is not simply a matter of rational decision making; it is a social process with social consequences.
  • Science is perceived as a culture which may require us to reject other aspects of our identity.
marginalized by world view
Marginalized by World View?
  • Anyone for whom science is threatening or difficult to understand could be marginalized.
  • Limited access to references.
  • Few role models.
  • Lower career expectations.
  • Restrictive religious backgrounds.
in the classroom
In the Classroom
  • Assertion: Most 9th grade students have never been formally taught about evolution.
  • Be aware of student world view and the threats posed by scientific thinking.
  • Use the language and terminology of students sometimes when trying to explain processes.
  • Avoid statements that might threaten non-scientific students.
  • Avoid the debate or discussion of personal beliefs.
in the school board
In the School Board
  • My school district (Cobb County, Georgia) wrote a new regulation to allow the “discussion of disputed views of origin.”
  • Hundreds of citizens now think that teachers are allowed to teach “Intelligent Design” creationism in the science classroom.
  • I personally advocate very strong state science standards which include evolution and the “nature of science.”
teaching about evolution
Teaching About Evolution
  • Plan and experience controlled experiments.
  • Understand other methods of science
  • Understand the provisional nature of science.
  • “Science and Non-Science Activity”
agree or disagree
Rice is no longer thrown at weddings because birds eating rice will swell up and die.

Roads built in national parks can endanger species

Agree or Disagree?

The President has the power to stop road building in national parks.

  • Earthworms come to the surface during rainstorms since they will drown if they remain underground.
  • John Lennon is a better composer than Beethoven.
experience life
Experience LIFE
  • E.coli, bioluminescent fungi, slime mold, Paramecium, crayfish, leeches, sea urchins, clams, radish, corn, beans, fish, mice……….
frequency distributions variation in species
Frequency Distributions:Variation in Species
  • Each student measures 100 pumpkin seeds in mm.
  • Count how many are 12 mm, 13 mm, 14 mm, 15 mm, etc.
  • Fill tubes with seeds and stack them….build a frequency distribution.
students write and talk about mutations
Students write and Talk about Mutations
  • Development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
  • Development of pesticide resistance in insects.
natural selection activities
Natural Selection Activities
  • Table top Islands with student predators
  • Groups have a predator, a time keeper, a recorder, and a baby counter.
  • Run groups through 4 generations.
  • Graph results with three lines over time.
  • THEN, students compare results on each other’s islands.
solve a language problem
Solve a Language Problem
  • Use more common language.
  • EXAMPLE: When describing Lamarck’s ideas, tell students that he thought “animals could try to change and pass the changes on to the babies” rather than “inheritance of acquired characteristics”.
the elephant in the classroom
The Elephant in the Classroom
  • Encourage discussion (but not debate) of religion.
  • It is important that students understand that most people view religion as a valid way to explore the world.
  • Have them find out their own minister’s views on evolution and explain that there is a CONTINUUM of belief.
what is a rainbow
What is a rainbow?
  • Light refracted through water droplets.
  • A sign of God’s covenant promises.
reliability of sources
Reliability of Sources

Weekly World News

Atlanta Journal/Constitution

Time and Newsweek,

National Geographic

Science (AAAS) and NAS

at all times
At All Times
  • Honor the integrity of each student’s views…. Use professional judgment.
  • “Ordinary” people are perfectly capable of conducting scientific investigations.
  • Preset plans often do not work: BE RESPONSIVE
  • Tolerate a little uncertainty and fear will dissipate.
at all times38
At All Times
  • Create opportunities in a culture of openness.
  • If you think that everyone believes that evolution and religion are not compatible, you haven’t been talking to enough people.
  • Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science
american association for the advancement of science
American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Official Resolution about Intelligent Design Theory