Evolution Education across the Life Sciences: Making Biology Education Make Sense
Evolution and Medicine is a curriculum supplement designed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) for high school students. The supplement is freely available from NIH’s Office of Science Education (OSE) as a part of the NIH curriculum supplement series. Development of the supplement was a collaborative effort that included input from a panel of experts in medicine, evolution, education, and educational technology. In total, the curriculum supplement includes five inquiry-based lessons that are integrated into the BSCS 5E instructional model (based on constructivist learning theory). The goal was to develop a 2-week curriculum to help students understand major concepts of evolution using the dynamic, modern, and relevant context of medicine. A diverse group of students and teachers across the US participated in a formative evaluation of a field test version of the curriculum. High school students made significant learning gains from pretest to posttest, with a relatively large effect size for student understanding of common ancestry and a relatively small effect size for student understanding of natural selection. There was no statistically significant difference in achievement gains between white students and all other racial/ethnic categories. Overall, the evaluation suggests that a curriculum that emphasizes the role of evolution in medicine, uses a constructivist instructional model, and is grounded in inquiry is relatively well-received by teachers and students and shows promise for increasing student learning in evolution.