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ERIC Number: ED554141
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 105
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-3031-2979-7
Unweaving Misconceptions: Guided Learning, Simulations, and Misconceptions in Learning Principles of Natural Selection
Weeks, Brian E.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Capella University
College students often come to the study of evolutionary biology with many misconceptions of how the processes of natural selection and speciation occur. How to relinquish these misconceptions with learners is a question that many educators face in introductory biology courses. Constructivism as a theoretical framework has become an accepted and promoted model within the epistemology of science instruction. However, constructivism is not without its skeptics who see some problems of its application in lacking necessary guidance for novice learners. This study within a quantitative, quasi-experimental format tested whether guided online instruction in a video format of common misconceptions in evolutionary biology produced higher performance on a survey of knowledge of natural selection versus more constructivist style learning in the form of student exploration of computer simulations of the evolutionary process. Performances on surveys were also explored for a combination of constructivist and guided techniques to determine if a consolidation of approaches produced higher test scores. Out of the 94 participants 95% displayed at least one misconception of natural selection in the pre-test while the study treatments produced no statistically significant improvements in post-test scores except within the video (guided learning treatment). These overall results demonstrated the stubbornness of misconceptions involving natural selection for adult learners and the difficulty of helping them overcome them. It also bolsters the idea that some misconceptions of natural selection and evolution may be hardwired in a neurological sense and that new, more long-term teaching techniques may be warranted. Such long-term strategies may not be best implemented with constructivist techniques alone, and it is likely that some level of guidance may be necessary for novice adult learners. A more substantial, nuanced approach for undergraduates is needed that consolidates successful teaching strategies to adult students that is based on current research. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A