Today’s youth expect to use technology in every aspect of their lives, including their education. Instead of being challenged by their considerable skills, educators should embrace the technology and use it to make the classroom experience more enjoyable for students, thereby improving learning outcomes. Evolution is no different – students must know the basics of evolution in order to be well-read members of society, and technology can help the students learn. The study of evolution today is incredibly interesting, particularly with new evidence coming to light almost daily. Human evolution, in particular, is the subject of copious amounts of research. The molecular basis of evolution has become a hot issue, too, as it is has given scientists the opportunity to see evolution on the smallest level possible, and even upended long-held beliefs within the scientific community about how species have evolved. As exciting as these developments are, teaching evolution is fraught with controversy. Although not a controversial subject amongst scientists, evolution is controversial to the general public, and teaching it can be problematic. There have been many organizations, including the Smithsonian, that have developed methods for teaching evolution in the classroom in such a ways to minimize offense and maximize the use of technology. By researching these methods, we can use the information to create what we hope will be an educational and interactive course for high school and freshman college students, and show them that evolution does not have to be controversial and learning about it can be easy and fun.
In this project, we studied the basis of human and molecular evolution, enough to become comfortable to teach the content to students. We researched pedagogical approaches used by other organizations and developed a course module based on the research. We aim to show students the connection between molecular evolution, microevolution, and macroevolution, with an emphasis on human evolution. We used resources available on the Internet to design an interactive course with animations and information that students can use to master the content, as well as a survey designed to see where students are in their knowledge of evolution. We also addressed the controversies surrounding the teaching of evolution in an effort to assuage the fears of those students who may believe that evolution is antithetical to their own belief systems. We incorporated all of these components to make the course-module interesting and interactive. We hope to present this at the conference, and show what we believe to be a wonderful way to teach evolution to students today.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/somamukhopadhyay/1/