Working Group sponsored by NESCent that initially proposed the convocation.3 (Chapter 6 describes the progress that has been made to date in implementing the idea and the resources available to make continued progress.) The working group did not set out to produce a curriculum per se. Rather, it focused on compiling and developing materials for instructors at the high school and undergraduate levels. It also examined how to get instructors to contribute and use evolutionary examples in their teaching and how to get people to think evolutionarily.
In addition, Uno has been part of a group that has been revising Advanced Placement (AP) Biology based on recommendations from a National Research Council report (2002). The updated course, which is scheduled to be implemented during the 2012-2013 school year, is framed in terms of four big ideas or unifying themes, and the first one concerns evolution: “The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.” The AP Biology exam also is being revised to have a much greater emphasis on evolution. Uno found that in a released version of the 2008 exam, 12 percent of the questions had something to do with evolution. In the exam being developed for the restructured course, at least 35 percent of the questions will involve evolution (based on a recently released practice examination). “That was not a target. We didn’t say, ‘We need to have X number of questions that have something to do with evolution.’ This is a natural consequence of framing a course that uses evolution as one of the themes.”
Finally, Uno described some of the steps needed to make accelerated progress in teaching evolution across the curriculum, which is the subject of the final chapter (Chapter 7) in this summary report. Many of these steps involve more than curricula and teaching materials; they depend on the attitudes of and relationships among scientists, teachers, students, and the public. A public relations campaign is essential, he said. When students and parents say, “Teach the controversy,” “Give equal time to creationism,” or “Evolution is not based on sound science,” instructors of biology need ready counter-statements. Uno suggested that a powerful statement for the general public is, “That’s just another example of evolution in action.”
By bringing together like-minded people from different backgrounds, the convocation was designed to create enduring collaborations, Uno pointed out in concluding his remarks. The idea was to find out what
3 Two other members of the EVAC working group, Paul Beardsley and Kristin Jenkins, served as members of the organizing committee. A third member of the EVAC group, Jay Labov, was the staff officer who directed the project. Additional information about this project is available on the convocation (http://nas-sites.org/thinkingevolutionarily) and NESCent websites (http://www.nescent.org).