McGill Journal of Education special issue on teaching evolution

A special issue of the McGill Journal of Education (vol. 42, no. 2) focusing on evolution education is now freely available on-line. In their preface, the issue's editors, Jason Wiles of McGill University and Anila Asghar of Johns Hopkins University, write:

the teaching and learning of evolution has faced difficulties ranging from pedagogical obstacles to social controversy. These include two distinctive sets of problems: one arising from the fact that many evolutionary concepts may seem, at least initially, counterintuitive to students, and the other deriving from objections rooted in religion. Despite the overwhelming acceptance of evolution among scientists and despite evolution's centrality to modern biology, virtually all national polls indicate approximately one-half of North Americans reject evolution -- suggesting that they think scientists, textbooks, and teachers are simply wrong.

Three themes are emphasized throughout the issue: "the need for improved teacher training in pedagogical techniques and content knowledge with regard to evolution, the need for effective classroom tools for teaching evolution, and the need to confront specific issues related to social controversies surrounding evolution education."

Contributors include Randy Moore, discussing the results of a survey on what high school students are taught about evolution and creationism; Anila Asghar, Jason R. Wiles, and Brian Alters (a member of NCSE's board of directors), examining Canadian pre-service elementary teachers' conceptions of biological evolution and evolution education; Robert T. Pennock, explaining how evolutionary computing and artificial life can aid in the teaching of evolution; Judy Scotchmoor and Anastasia Thanukos, discussing the pedagogical aims and methods of the Understanding Evolution website; Jeff Dodick, explaining how to teach about evolutionary change within the framework of geological time; and NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott, answering the question "What's wrong with the 'teach the controversy' slogan?"

Also included are two opinion pieces -- Craig E. Nelson's "Teaching evolution effectively: A central dilemma and alternative strategies" and Massimo Pigliucci's "The evolution-creation wars: Why teaching more science just is not enough" -- and two book reviews, one by NCSE deputy director Glenn Branch of Brian Alters's Teaching Biological Evolution in Higher Education: Methodological, Religious, and Nonreligious Issues (Sudbury [MA]: Jones and Bartlett, 2005) and one by Andrew J. Petto (the editor of Reports of the National Center for Science Education) of Marc W. Kirschner and John C. Gerhardt's The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma (New Haven [CT]: Yale University Press, 2005).

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