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Teaching a Socially Controversial Scientific Subject: Evolution

Teaching a Socially Controversial Scientific Subject: Evolution
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Author(s): Hasan Deniz (University of Nevada Las Vegas, USA)
Copyright: 2015
Pages: 12
Source title: STEM Education: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Information Resources Management Association (USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7363-2.ch050

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Abstract

This chapter explores teachers' and students' acceptance and understanding of evolutionary theory by using conceptual ecology (Toulmin, 1972) as a theoretical lens. Demastes, Good, and Peebles (1995) describe the conceptual ecology for evolutionary theory. Acceptance of evolutionary theory is part of this conceptual ecology, and this conceptual ecology also contains the following five components: (1) prior conceptions related to evolution (understanding of evolutionary theory); (2) scientific orientation (degree to which the learner organizes his/her life around scientific activities); (3) view of the nature of science; (4) view of the biological world in competitive and causal terms as opposed to aesthetic terms; and (5) religious orientation. A complex web of connections among components of conceptual ecology for evolutionary theory influences one's acceptance and understanding of evolutionary theory. Therefore, studying the relationship between acceptance and understanding of evolutionary theory as a part of the conceptual ecology for evolutionary theory is more promising than studying acceptance of evolutionary theory in isolation. Moreover, studying acceptance of evolutionary theory as an integral part of the conceptual ecology may enable us to explain why some teachers and students show a high degree of acceptance and others show a low degree of acceptance.

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