Teaching Evolution to Undergraduate Nonmajors:
An Uphill Climb
Department of Entomology
The Ohio State University
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
In big body count courses such as Biology 101, it is typical for more than 50% of the audience to view the topic of evolution with hostility. And, while these students will not become scientists, they will become teachers and policy makers and voters. They therefore need to have at least an elementary understanding of evolution. The pedagogical question is how to reach this audience when most of them are predisposed to reject evolution out of hand before they even enter the class.
To this end, and working with the Center for Life Sciences Education, we developed a multi-pronged strategy for increasing understanding and acceptance of evolution. The major focus was to bring eminent scientists and theologians to Columbus to discuss the nexus of faith and reason. We also revamped lectures on evolution, required student papers on evolution and scored progress in meeting pedagogical goals using a standardized exam. Using these interventions, we were able to increase understanding and acceptance of evolution.
Here is an audio recording of this science cafe in mp3 format.
Click here for the PowerPoint presentation that accompanied this event.