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ERIC Number: EJ1116205
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1040-9289
Children's Ability to Learn Evolutionary Explanations for Biological Adaptation
Shtulman, Andrew; Neal, Cara; Lindquist, Gabrielle
Early Education and Development, v27 n8 p1222-1236 2016
Research Findings: Evolution by natural selection is often relegated to the high school curriculum on the assumption that younger students cannot grasp its complexity. We sought to test that assumption by teaching children ages 4-12 (n = 96) a selection-based explanation for biological adaptation and comparing their success to that of adults (n = 30). Participants provided explanations before and after a 10-min, analogy-based tutorial illustrating the principles of variation, differential survival, differential reproduction, inheritance, and population change. Although younger children (ages 4-6) showed minimal evidence of learning these principles, older children (ages 7-12) showed robust evidence of doing so, learning them at rates equivalent to adults. Participants of all ages, however, provided nonevolutionary explanations for biological adaptations (i.e., explanations referencing need, growth, and creation) nearly as often at posttest as they did at pretest. Practice or Policy: These results suggest that older elementary school-age children can be taught evolutionary concepts but that learning such concepts does not lead to the automatic replacement of nonevolutionary views of biological adaptation, which must be addressed separately.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
Grant or Contract Numbers: DRL0953384