Evolution and the Nature of Science: On the Historical Discord and Its Implications for Education

  • Rudolph J
  • Stewart J
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Research in the teaching and learning of evolutionary biology has revealed persistent difficulties in student understanding of fundamental Darwinian concepts. These difficulties may be traced, in part, to science instruction that is based on philosophical conceptions of science that are no longer viewed as adequately characterizing the diverse nature of scientific practice, especially in evolutionary biology. This mismatch between evolution as practiced and the nature of science as perceived by researchers and educators has a long history extending back to the publication of Darwin's theory of natural selection. An examination of how this theory was received by the scientific community of the time may provide insight into some of the difficulties that students have today in learning these important biological concepts. The primary difficulties center around issues of metaphysics and scientific method, aspects of the nature of science too often ignored in science education. Our intent is not to offer a specific course of action to remedy the problems educators currently face, but rather to suggest an alternative path one might take to eventually reach a solution. That path, we argue, should include the use of broader models of science that incorporate these elements of scientific practice to structure teaching and education research in evolution. (C) 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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  • John L. Rudolph

  • Jim Stewart

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