During the final breakout session, convocation participants met in four groups organized by areas of expertise—faculty, funders, education researchers and professional developers, and representatives from professional societies—and discussed the actions that need to be taken to advance and implement the idea of teaching evolution across the curriculum. They then presented and discussed these actions during the final plenary session of the convocation. The proposed actions listed below consist of suggestions made by individuals at the convocation. They should not be seen as consensus conclusions of the meeting or as positions that are officially endorsed by the National Research Council or the National Academy of Sciences. They reflect the conversations that occurred during the convocation and point in some particularly interesting and promising directions.
• Instructors at all educational levels need continual professional development to be able to teach evolution across the biology curriculum.
• Local, regional, or national academies on teaching evolution across the curriculum could introduce educators to the idea, inform them about available resources, and provide them with support.
• A campaign on intentionally teaching about evolution and the nature of science every day could bring the idea to all educators and education administrators.
• A clearinghouse of resources related to evolution education could disseminate existing materials, foster the development of new materials, and catalyze the creation of networks of biology educators. In particular, a compilation of best practices would be a valuable resource not only for biology educators but also for instructors in other subjects who want to incorporate evolution into their teaching.
• Existing resources such as the Understanding Evolution website could be expanded and promoted. In particular, these resources could present examples provided by disciplinary and professional societies across the life sciences and reviewed for pedagogical effectiveness and potential impact by various teacher organizations such as NABT, the Understanding Evolution websites’ Teacher Advisory Board, or the National Academies’ Teacher Advisory Council.1
• A taskforce supported by the National Academy of Sciences or other scientific organizations could develop materials on evolution and the nature of science both for educators and the general public.
• A searchable database of curated education research papers could make what is known about the teaching of evolution available to all instructors.
• Compilation and publication of known effective techniques (the “hooks” to which Robert Pennock referred during his presentation and discussed in other parts of this report) in formats that are readily available and easily accessible to teachers, including what might be learned from collaborating with international science educators about best practices in other parts of the world.
• Establishment during the coming year of an organizing body that would spearhead the development and operation of a clearinghouse of resources, research practices, metrics for measuring both student learning and the efficacy of programs, strategies for more effective teaching of evolution, and coordination with media for efforts such as the “Everyday Evolution” initiative suggested by Uno during his presentation.
• Additional education research could investigate how students at all ages learn about evolution and the best ways of conveying information about the subject.
• The coordination of research throughout the country could enable educators and education researchers to work together to generate new knowledge on evolution education.
• Articulating classroom-based education efforts with informal learning environments could reinforce and extend the teaching of evolution across the curriculum.
• Educators can be ambassadors for both evolution and the nature of science by volunteering for committees, talking with colleagues, speaking in public events, publishing articles, and engaging in other outreach efforts.
• Strategically planned and financed dissemination of the ideas of “evolution every day” or “everyday evolution” to a variety of audiences could build awareness of the centrality of evolution in the modern understanding of life.
• A watchdog group could rate politicians for scientific accuracy just as other groups rank politicians on other issues.
• Supplemental awards from the National Science Foundation and other public and private sources of funding can provide support for educational and research activities involving evolution education, and especially for students who do not take Advanced Placement Biology and those who are not planning to major in science.
• NESCent can support the development of courses and curriculum for evolution education at different levels, from elementary school to college and from the local to national scales.
• Deleting some material from current biology curricula may be necessary to make room for an increased focus on evolution.
• Rewarding college faculty for effective teaching about evolution and the nature of science could create incentives to develop new materials and teach students well.
• Continued strong support from the National Academy of Sciences and other scientific organizations can provide encouragement for teaching evolution in high schools and tying evolution to national standards.
• Professional societies could specifically target and recruit the participation of teachers from high schools and community colleges to their annual meetings to explore how evolution is central to their disciplines and how evolution can be better integrated into appropriate sections of biology courses in those disciplines.
• Professional societies could support presentations at annual meetings of educators on topics related to evolution education.
Robert Pennock from Michigan State University expressed an appropriate closing comment: “We are at a cusp where the communities are coming together to teach evolution across the curriculum. We’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. I hope that, a little while from now, we can look back on this [convocation] as something to celebrate.”