Facing the Challenges of Learning and Teaching about Evolution: A Synthesis

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

Evolution Challenges is a collaborative synthesis project to provide a comprehensive account of the difficulties faced in teaching and learning about biological evolution. The project brings together approximately 60 scholars from biology, paleontology, museum curators, psychologists specializing in cognition, development, and social process, as well as science educators, K-20.

Research Design: 

The research design for this project is comparative, and is designed to generate evidence which is descriptive (ethnography, observational) and synthetic (literature review and qualitative meta-analysis). This project collects original data using paper and pencil self-completion questionnaires and focus groups. Qualitative procedures are used to develop consensus regarding the relevant issues and an inclusive narrative regarding the possible causes, impacts, responses to, and needs for additional research.


A coordinated account of the intersection between the cognitive developmental trajectory of learners’ and cultural heuristic factors.

Publications & Presentations: 

Sinatra, G. M., Brem, S. K., & Evans, E. M. (2008). Changing Minds? Implications of Conceptual Change for Teaching and Learning about Biological Evolution. Evolution Education and Outreach, 2. 189-195.

Brem, S. K. “Affective Responses to Evolutionary Science and their Potential Effect on Conceptual Change.” Paper presented at the biannual meeting of the Conceptual Change Special Interest Group of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Turku, Finland.

Early Conceptual Change SIG Conference. Turku, Finland.

Sinatra, G. M. (2008, August). Motivation and the Warming Trend in Conceptual Change Research. Invited keynote address presented at the biannual meetings of the Conceptual Change Special Interest Group and the Motivation Special Interest Group of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Turku, Finland.

Other Products: 

Book geared to both researchers’ and practitioners’ new lines of research, funded and unfunded contributions to curricula and museum exhibits.

Research Design: 


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