• How did that evolve?
• Is that the same in all organisms?
• What is the significance of that structure?
• How can that be explained?
• How does this process or phenomenon compare to that one?
• Is this biologically related to that?
• What does that information tell us about the evolution of X?
• How does one develop curricular material that gets to everyone?
Many questions surround instruction and the development of supporting curricular materials for evolution education. Are there ways to teach all students critical concepts in evolutionary science such as artificial and natural selection, emerging diseases, developmental biology, key transitions in the history of life, biodiversity, or evolutionary medicine? Who should develop the materials needed to teach these concepts, and how can biologists be convinced to contribute to their development? How can people be made aware of these materials and be convinced to use them? And how can the effects of materials and instructional approaches be measured? All of these questions are potential subjects of research.
Teaching evolution across the curriculum also can thwart the constant assault on the teaching of evolution (Chapter 4). “I’m from Oklahoma. We are the buckle on the Bible belt, and I deal with a lot of students on a regular basis in my introductory courses who show resistance to teaching and accepting evolution.” In high schools in Oklahoma and throughout the nation, students are often absent on the days when evolution is taught, Uno stated. Even in colleges, when evolution is listed on the schedule, students miss those days. “If you teach evolution every single day, then there is no avoiding evolution,” said Uno.
Uno encouraged the convocation participants to think outside the box about target populations, which is the subject of Chapter 5. High school students and teachers are major audiences of course. But can ways be found to reach farmers, parents, and politicians? Farmers understand selection, because they understand the evolution of pesticide resistance as well as how much their crops and livestock can be changed over time through selective breeding. “Is there a way that we can reach that population by customizing our information or our message?” asked Uno. Parents could be receptive to a message about emergent diseases. Other important audiences include faculty and students at two-year colleges, textbook authors and publishers, and media people. “We need to think about customizing our message and our strategies for individuals at these different kinds of institutions.” To reach a broad spectrum of audiences, both top-down and bottom-up public relations campaigns will be needed.
Uno was a member of the Evolution Across the Curriculum (EVAC)