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Fostering 21st-Century Evolutionary Reasoning: Teaching Tree Thinking to Introductory Biology Students

Novick, Laura R ; Catley, Kefyn M

CBE - Life Sciences Education, December 2016, Vol.15(4) [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Fostering 21st-Century Evolutionary Reasoning: Teaching Tree Thinking to Introductory Biology Students
  • Author: Novick, Laura R ; Catley, Kefyn M
  • Subjects: Science Instruction ; Scientific Literacy ; College Science ; Biology ; Majors (Students) ; Undergraduate Students ; Visual Aids ; Experimental Groups ; Control Groups ; Thinking Skills ; Genetics ; Teaching Methods ; Plants (Botany) ; Classification ; Pretests Posttests ; Program Effectiveness ; Biology
  • Is Part Of: CBE - Life Sciences Education, December 2016, Vol.15(4)
  • Description: The ability to interpret and reason from Tree of Life (ToL) diagrams has become a vital component of science literacy in the 21st century. This article reports on the effectiveness of a research-based curriculum, including an instructional booklet, laboratory, and lectures, to teach the fundamentals of such tree thinking in an introductory biology class for science majors. We present the results of a study involving 117 undergraduates who received either our new research-based tree-thinking curriculum or business-as-usual instruction. We found greater gains in tree-thinking abilities for the experimental instruction group than for the business-as-usual group, as measured by performance on our novel assessment instrument. This was a medium size effect. These gains were observed on an unannounced test that was administered ~5-6 weeks after the primary instruction in tree thinking. The nature of students' postinstruction difficulties with tree thinking suggests that the critical...
  • Language: English
  • Identifier: ISSN: 1931-7913 ; E-ISSN: 1931-7913 ; DOI: 10.1187/cbe.15-06-0127

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