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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science 7 Selecting Instructional Materials Quality instructional materials are essential in teaching about evolution and the nature of science. It also is important to consider the context within which specific materials will be used. This chapter therefore begins with brief discussions of school science programs and the criteria used to design curricula. Criteria for Contemporary Science Curriculum Before selecting specific materials to teach evolution and the nature of science, it is important to identify criteria that can help evaluate school science programs and the design of instructional materials. Chapter seven in the National Science Education Standards, "Science Education Program Standards," describes the conditions needed for quality school science programs. These conditions focus on six areas: Consistency across all elements of the science program and across the K-12 continuum Quality in the program of studies Coordination with mathematics Quality resources Equitable opportunities for achievement Collaboration within the school community to support a quality program Similarly, educators need to consider criteria against which to judge instructional materials. Teachers, curriculum designers, and other school personnel can use the following criteria to evaluate the design of a new curriculum, to select instructional materials, or to adapt instructional materials through professional development. No set of instructional materials will meet all the following criteria. You will have to make a judgment about the degree to which materials meet criteria and about acceptable and unacceptable omissions. These criteria are adapted from earlier discussions of standards-based curriculum.1 Criterion 1: A Coherent, Consistent, and Coordinated Framework for Science Content . Science content should be consistent with national, state, and local standards and benchmarks. Whether for lessons, units, or a complete elementary, middle, or high school program, the content should be well-thought-out, coordinated, and conceptually, procedurally, and coherently organized. The roles of science concepts, inquiry, science in personal and social contexts, and the history and nature of science should be clear and explicit. Criterion 2: An Organized and Systematic Approach to Instruction. Most contemporary science curricula incorporate an instructional model. The instructional model should (1) provide for different forms of interaction among students and between the teachers and students, (2) incorporate a variety of teaching strategies, such as inquiry-oriented investigations, cooperative groups, use of technology, and (3) allow adequate time and opportunities for students to acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science Criterion 3: An Integration of Psychological Principles Relative to Cognition, Motivation, Development, and Social Psychology. Psychological principles such as those found in the American Psychological Association publication How Students Learn: Reforming School Through Learner-Centered Education2 should be applied to the framework for content, teaching, and assessment. These psychological principles include more than learning theory. They include providing for motivation, development, and social interactions. Criterion 4: Varied Curriculum Emphases. The idea of curriculum emphases can be expressed by thinking about the foreground and background in a painting. An artist decides what will be in the foreground, and that subject is emphasized. Science curricula can, for example, emphasize science concepts, inquiry, or the history and nature of science, while other goals may be evident but not emphasized. No one curriculum emphasis is best for all students; probably, a variety of emphases accommodates the interests, strengths, and demands of science content. Criterion 5: An Array of Opportunities to Develop Knowledge, Understanding, and Abilities Associated with Different Dimensions of Scientific Literacy . Contemporary science curricula should provide a balance among the different dimensions of science literacy, which include an understanding of scientific concepts, the ability to engage in inquiry, and a capacity to apply scientific information in making decisions.3 Criterion 6: Teaching Methods and Assessment Strategies Consistent with the Goal of Science Literacy. Approaches to teaching and assessment ought to be consistent with the goals of teaching evolution, inquiry, and the history and nature of science. This can be accomplished by using inquiry-oriented teaching methods and by assessing students during investigative activities. Criterion 7: Professional Development for Science Teachers Who Implement the Curriculum . Curricula need to provide opportunities that support teachers as they develop the knowledge and skills associated with implementing and institutionalizing the science program. Criterion 8: An Inclusion of Appropriate Educational Technologies. The use of computers and various types of software enhances learning when students use the technologies in meaningful ways. The use of educational technologies should be consistent with other features of the curriculum—for instance, the dimensions of scientific literacy and an instructional model. Criterion 9: Thorough Field Testing and Review for Scientific Accuracy and Pedagogic Quality. One important legacy of the 1960s curriculum reform is the field testing of materials in a variety of science classrooms. Field testing and reviewing a program identify problems that developers did not recognize and fine tune the materials to the varied needs of teachers, learners, and schools. Scientists should review materials for accuracy. Developers can miss the subtleties of scientific concepts, inquiry, and design. In addition, educators who review materials can provide valuable insights about teaching and assessment that help developers improve materials and enhance learning. Criterion 10: Support from the Educational System. Research on the adoption, implementation, and change associated with curricula indicates the importance of intellectual, financial, and moral support from those within the larger educational system.4 This support includes science teachers, administrators, school boards, and communities. Although a curriculum cannot ensure support, it should address the need for support and provide indicators of support, such as provision of materials and equipment for laboratory investigations, budget allocations for professional development, and proclamations by the school board. Clearly, no one curriculum thoroughly incorporates all ten criteria. There are always trade-offs when developing, adapting, or adopting a science curriculum. However, the criteria should provide assistance to those who have the responsibility of improving the science curriculum.
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science Analyzing Instructional Materials The process of selecting quality materials includes determining the degree to which they are consistent with the goals, principles, and criteria developed in the National Science Education Standards. Well-defined selection criteria help ensure a thoughtful and effective process. To be both usable and defensible, the selection criteria must be few in number and embody the critical tenets of accurate science content, effective teaching strategies, and appropriate assessment techniques. The process described in the following pages can help teachers, curriculum designers, or other school personnel complete a thorough and accurate evaluation of instructional materials. To help make this examination both thorough and usable, references to specific pages and sections in the National Science Education Standards have been provided, as have worksheets to keep track of the information needed to analyze and select the best instructional materials. Analysis Procedures The procedures outlined in this section include: Overview of instructional materials Analysis of science subject matter Analysis of pedagogy Analysis of assessment process Evaluating the teacher's guide Analysis of use and management The extent to which instructional materials meet the criteria outlined in this chapter determines their usefulness for classroom teachers and the degree of alignment with the Standards. A thorough analysis of instructional materials requires considerable time and collaboration with others and attention to detail. Good working notes are helpful in this process. We recommend using the analysis worksheets provided at the end of this chapter. Overview of Instructional Materials The following overview of instructional materials introduces the review process and provides a general context for analysis and subsequent selection of specific materials. The first consideration is whether the key concepts of evolution and the nature of science are being emphasized. To help make this determination, locate the table of contents, index, and glossary in the material you are evaluating. The box below contains terms related to fundamental concepts in evolution and the nature of science taken from the Standards. Record page numbers where each is found for future reference. (See Worksheet 1 on page 112 in the back of this chapter.) These terms will give you a preliminary indication of coverage on these fundamental topics. Evolution evolution, diversity, adaptation, interpreting fossil evidence, techniques for age determination, natural selection, descent from common ancestors Nature of Science explanation, experiment, evidence, inquiry, model, theory, skepticism Look through both student and teacher materials. Are student outcomes listed? Note page numbers for several outcomes related to evolution and the nature of science. Look for student investigations or activities. Where are they located? Note that in some materials, student investigations are integrated within the reading material. In others they are located in a separate section—sometimes at the back of a chapter or book or in a separate laboratory manual. Read several relevant paragraphs of student text material. What is your judgment about the concepts? Are the concepts in the students' text
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science consistent with the fundamental concepts in the Standards? Does the text include more, fewer, or different concepts? Do the photographs and illustrations provide further understanding of the fundamental concepts? Analysis of Instructional Materials for Science Subject Matter CONTENT The following procedures for content analysis will help you examine instructional materials for fundamental concepts of evolution, science as inquiry, and the nature of science. Look for evidence in discussions in the text and in the student investigations to determine the degree to which the fundamental concepts are addressed. Fundamental concepts underlying specific standards on evolution and the nature of science are reference below. (Note: You will need a copy of the National Science Education Standards or access to it through the World Wide Web at www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/nses.) Content Standard C—Life Science: grades 5-8, ''Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms," p. 158; grades 9-12, "Biological Evolution," p. 185; also read "Developing Student Understanding" grades 5-8, pp. 155–156; and grades 9-12, p. 181. Content Standard D—Earth and Space Science: grades 5-8, "Earth's History," p. 160; grades 9-12, "The Origin and Evolution of the Earth System," pp. 189-190; also read "Developing Student Understanding," grades 5-8, pp. 158-159; grades 9-12, pp. 187-188. Choose a lesson or representative section of the student instructional materials on the topic of evolution. Make a preliminary list of the fundamental concepts from the Standards that are included in the lesson and place them on your worksheet. (See Worksheet 2 on page 114 in the back of this chapter.) Select one of these fundamental concepts and list all sections of the materials that deal with this idea. Determine whether the materials focus on the fundamental concepts, or if they represent only a superficial match. For example, Life Science Standard C in the Standards5 specifies: "Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations. Species acquire many of their unique characteristics through biological adaptation, which involves the selection of naturally occurring variations in populations." The instructional materials should provide opportunities for students to develop an understanding of biodiversity and evolution as described in the Standards. A negative example would be defining the term biodiversity only in reference to the fact that wide varieties of plants and animals populate particular environments. You should complete this analysis for all fundamental concepts associated with a particular standard. The more fundamental concepts you analyze using this process, the more confidence you will have in the quality of the instructional materials and their alignment with the Standards. Identify the fundamental concepts that are not developed and the variation of treatment among those that are included in the materials. If appropriate, select one of the student investigations for analysis of subject matter. On what fundamental concepts from Life Science Standard C or Earth and Space Science Standard D is the investigation focused? To what degree does the activity fulfill the intent of the fundamental concepts? For example, making and comparing model casts and molds of sea shells does not necessarily contribute to an understanding of how fossils are formed or provide important evidence of how life and environmental conditions have changed. It is recommended that you analyze a second student investigation. SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY You should develop some understanding of scientific inquiry in the Standards. Read Standard A, Science as Inquiry, referenced on the following page.
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science Standard A—Science as Inquiry: grades 5-8, pp. 145-148; grades 9-12, pp. 175-176; also read "Developing Student Understanding," grades 5-8, pp. 143-144; grades 9-12, pp. 173-174. Note that Standard A specifies two separate aspects of science as inquiry: abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry, and fundamental understandings about scientific inquiry. Examine several lessons in the student and teacher materials to answer the following question: To what degree do the lessons provide students the opportunity to develop the abilities and understandings of scientific inquiry? Read through the text narrative, looking for student investigations and examining any suggestions for activities outside of class time. Are opportunities provided for students to develop abilities of scientific inquiry such as posing their own relevant questions, planning and conducting investigations, using appropriate tools and techniques to gather data, using evidence to communicate defensible explanations of cause and effect relationships, or using scientific criteria to analyze alternative explanations to determine a preferred explanation? Record page numbers where examples are found and make notes of explanation. What opportunities are provided for students to develop a fundamental understanding of scientific inquiry? In addition to the language of the text, examine the teacher's guide for suggestions that teachers can use to discuss the role and limitations of scientific skills such as making observations, organizing and interpreting data, and constructing defensible explanations based on evidence. Can you find a discussion of how science advances through legitimate skepticism? Can you find a discussion of how scientists evaluate proposed explanations of others by examining and comparing evidence, identifying reasoning that goes beyond the evidence, and suggesting alternative explanations for the same evidence? Are there opportunities for students to demonstrate these same understandings as a part of their investigations? Make notes where this evidence is found for later reference. HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE Are history and the nature of science incorporated into the treatment of evolution? Read Standard G, History and Nature of Science, referenced in the following box. Content Standard G—History and Nature of Science: grades 5-8, pp. 170-171; grades 9-12, pp. 200-201 and p. 204; also read "Developing Student Understanding," grades 5-8, p. 170; grades 9-12, p. 200. Read through several lessons in the student and teacher materials. Can you find examples describing the roles of scientists, human insight, and scientific reasoning in the historical and contemporary development of explanations for evolution? Can you find specific references to historical contributions of scientists in the development of fundamental concepts of evolution? What evidence can you find in the text narrative or student investigations that demonstrates how scientific explanations are developed, reviewed by peers, and revised in light of new evidence and thinking? Analysis Of Pedagogy What students learn about evolution and the nature of science depends on many things, including the accuracy and developmental appropriateness of content and its congruence with the full intent of the content standards. Opportunities to learn should be consistent with contemporary models of learning. The criteria in this section are based on characteristics of effective teaching proposed in Teaching Standards A, B, and E. Teaching Standard A—Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students, pp. 30-32. Teaching Standard B—Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning, pp. 32-33 and 36-37. Teaching Standard E—Teachers of science develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry and the attitudes and social values conducive to science learning, pp. 45-46 and 50-51.
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science Using the following sequence of questions, examine several lessons in the student materials and the teacher's guide. (See Worksheet 3 on page 117 in the back of this chapter.) Do the materials identify specific learning goals or outcomes for students that focus on one or more of the fundamental concepts of evolution and the nature of science? Study the opening pages of a relevant chapter or section. Does the material on the opening pages of the chapter or section on evolution engage and focus student thinking on interesting questions, problems, or relevant issues? Does the material provide a sequence of learning activities connected in such a way as to help students build understanding of a fundamental concept? Are suggestions provided to help the teacher keep students focused on the purpose of the lesson? Does the teacher's guide present common student misconceptions related to the fundamental concepts of evolution and the nature of science? Are suggestions provided for teachers to find out what their students already know? Are there learning activities designed to help students confront their misconceptions and encourage conceptual change? Analysis Of Assessment Process Assessment criteria in this section are grounded in the Assessment Standards. Assessment Standards A to E, Chapter 5, pp. 78-87. Examine several lessons in the student and teacher materials for evidence to answer the following questions. (See Worksheet 4 on page 118 in the back of this chapter.) Is there consistency between learning goals and assessment? For example, if instruction focuses on building understanding of fundamental concepts, do assessments focus on explanations and not on vocabulary? Do assessments stress application of concepts to new or different situations? For example, are the students asked to explain new situations with concepts they have learned? Are assessment tasks fair for all students? For example, does success on assessment tasks depend too heavily on the student's ability to read complex items or write explanations as opposed to understanding the fundamental concepts? Are suggestions for scoring criteria or rubrics provided for the teacher? Evaluating The Teacher's Guide Examine several lessons in the teacher's guide to help answer the following questions: Does the teacher's guide present appropriate and sufficient background on science? Are the suggested teaching strategies usable by most teachers? Are suggestions provided for pre- and post-investigation discussions focusing on concept development, inquiry, and the nature of science? Does the teacher's guide recommend additional professional development? Does the teacher's guide indicate the types of support teachers will need for the instructional materials? Analysis Of Use And Management A high degree of alignment with Standards content, pedagogy, and assessment criteria does not necessarily guarantee that instructional materials will be easy to manage. The Standards address the importance of professional development, and some aspects of the program standards apply as well.6 How many different types of materials must be managed and orchestrated during a typical chapter, unit, or teaching sequence (e.g., student text, teacher's guide, transparencies, handouts,
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science videos, and software)? (See Worksheet 5 on page 119 in the back of this chapter.) Does the teacher's guide contain suggestions for effectively managing materials? Do the instructional materials call for equipment, supplies, and technology that teachers may not have? Do the instructional materials identify safety issues and provide adequate precautions? Is the cost for materials and replacements reasonable? Are there special requirements? NOTES 1. Rodger Bybee. 1997. Achieving Scientific Literacy: From Purposes to Practices. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Rodger Bybee, 1996. National Standards and the Science Curriculum. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co. 2. N. M. Lambert and B. L. McCombs. 1998. How Students Learn: Reforming Schools Through Learner-Centered Education. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 3. National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, p. 22. www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/nses 4. M.G. Fullan and S. Stiegelbauer. 1991. The New Meaning of Educational Change, 2nd ed. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University. G.E. Hall and S.M. Hord. 1987. Change in Schools: Facilitating the Process. Albany: State University of New York Press. S. Loucks-Horsley and S. Stiegelbauer. 1991. Using Knowledge of Change to Guide Staff Development. In Staff Development for Education in the 90s: New Demands, New Realities, New Perspectives. A. Lieberman and L. Miller, eds. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University. 5. See National Science Education Standards, p. 158. 6. See National Science Education Standards, pp. 55-73.
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science Worksheet 1: General Overview 1. Terms (fundamental concepts) Location Page(s) evolution diversity adaptation interpreting fossil evidence techniques for age determination natural selection descent from common ancestors experiments evidence explanations models theory skepticism Comments on breadth and depth of coverage: 2. Statements of expected student outcomes on evolution and the nature of science Location Page(s) Examples: a. b. c.
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science 3. Student investigations Location Page(s) Titles of example investigations: a. b. c. Comments: 4. Concept Level Location Page(s) Paragraph 1 Comments: Paragraph 2 Comments: Statement of overall impression from the overview:
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science Worksheet 2: Analysis of Science Subject Matter A. CONTENT 1. Fundamental understandings addressed: Location Page(s)_____ List of fundamental understandings: 2. Do materials promote understanding of the subject matter? a. Content Standard C: Life Science, or Standard D: Earth and Space Science Fundamental understanding statement:_____________________________________________________________________________ Page(s)_____ Level of understanding possible based on the opportunities to learn: Thorough [ ] Some [ ] None [ ] Comments: b. Content Standard C: Life Science, or Standard D: Earth and Space Science Fundamental understanding statement: _____________________________________________________________________________ Page(s)_____ Level of understanding possible based on the opportunities to learn: Thorough [ ] To some degree [ ] Topic match only [ ] Comments: 3. Student Investigations Investigation title: ___________________________________________ Page(s)_____ Learning goal: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ The activity alignment between learning goal and National Science Education Standards fundamental understanding: Excellent [ ] Partial [ ] None [ ] Comments:
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science B. SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY 1.What opportunities are provided for students to develop abilities of scientific inquiry? Cite specific examples: Page(s)___ a. to pose relevant questions; ___ b. plan and conduct investigations; ___ c. use appropriate tools and techniques to gather data; ___ d. use evidence to communicate defensible explanations of cause and effects; ___ e. use scientific criteria to analyze alternative explanations and develop a preferred explanation. ___ Discussion of examples: 2. Opportunities to develop understanding of scientific inquiry: Page(s)___ Cite specific examples: a. discussion of both roles and limitations of skills such as organizing and interpreting data, constructing explanations; ___ b. discussion of how science advances through legitimate skepticism; ___ c. discussion of how scientists evaluate proposed explanations of others by examining and comparing evidence, reasoning that goes beyond the evidence, suggesting alternative explanations for the same evidence; ___ d. opportunities for students to demonstrate these same understandings as a part of their investigations. ___ Discussion of examples: Overall estimate of alignment with National Science Education Standards Inquiry Standard: Excellent [ ] Good [ ] Some [ ] Little [ ] None [ ] Justification of alignment estimate:
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science C. HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE Cite specific examples of: 1. evidence supporting the role of scientists, human insight, and scientific reasoning in the historical development of explanations for evolution; Page(s)___ 2. narrative and learning activities that provide examples of how explanations are developed, reviewed by peers, and revised in light of new evidence and thinking; ___ 3. specific reference to historical contributions of scientists in the development of fundamental understandings of evolution; ___ 4. opportunities for students to demonstrate how scientific explanations are developed, reviewed by peers, and revised in light of new evidence and thinking. ___ Discussion of examples: Overall estimate of alignment with National Science Education Standards History and the Nature of Science Standard Excellent [ ] Good [ ] Some [ ] Little [ ] None [ ] Justification of alignment estimate:
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science Worksheet 3: Analysis of Pedagogy Cite specific examples where: 1. student learning goals or outcomes focus on one or more fundamental understandings in evolution and the nature of science specified in Content Standards A, C, D, and G; Page(s)_____ Comments: 2. materials engage and focus student thinking on interesting questions, problems, or relevant issues; rather than opening with statements of fact and vocabulary; _____ Comments: 3. materials provide a sequence of learning activities connected in such a way as to help students build understanding of a fundamental concept. _____ Does the material provide specific means (e.g., connections among activities, linkage between text and activities, building from concepts to abstract and embedded assessments) to help the teacher keep students focused on the purpose of the lesson? Yes _____ No_____ _____ Comments: 4. teacher's guide presents common student misconceptions about evolution and the nature of science; _____ suggestions are provided to access prior understandings of students; and _____ student learning activities are designed to help students confront misconceptions and encourage conceptual change. _____ Comments: Overall estimate of alignment to National Science Education Standards Teaching Standard Excellent [ ] Good [ ] Some [ ] Little [ ] None [ ] Justification of alignment estimate:
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science Worksheet 4: Analysis of Assessment Process Cite example or evidence of: 1. consistency between learning goals and assessment; Page(s)_____ 2. assessments stressing application of concepts to new or different situations; _____ 3. fairness of assessment tasks for all students—for example, task does not rely too heavily upon the student's ability to read complex items or write explanations, as opposed to understanding the fundamental concepts; and _____ 4. the inclusion of actual assessment instruments, scoring criteria or rubrics, and specific suggestions provided regarding their use. _____ Comments: Overall estimate of alignment to National Science Education Standards Assessment Standard: Excellent [ ] Good [ ] Some [ ] Little or None [ ] Explanation of alignment estimate:
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Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science Worksheet 5: Analysis of Use and Management 1. How many different types of materials must be managed and orchestrated during a typical chapter, unit, or teaching sequence (e.g., student text, teachers guide, transparencies, handouts, videos, software)? Page(s)_____ Comments: 2. Does the guide contain suggestions for effectively managing instructional materials? _____ 3. Do the instructional materials call for equipment, supplies, and technology that teachers using these materials might not have? _____ Comments: Overall estimate of use and management: Easy [ ] Satisfactory [ ] Difficult [ ] Explanation of overall estimate:
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Representative terms from entire chapter: