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Evolution for undergraduates: fostering critical thinkers

Bryant, K.A. and Calver, M.C.ORCID: 0000-0001-9082-2902 (2009) Evolution for undergraduates: fostering critical thinkers. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, 92 (4). pp. 473-481.

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The process of evolution underpins all in biology, directs research and provides a unifying explanation for the history and diversity of life. The study of evolutionary biology draws on many disciplines (from molecular biology to ecology to palaeontology), and has applications in numerous areas, such as medicine, conservation, and agriculture. How then do we use evolution to train university undergraduates in a meaningful way, and what do we want them to learn? There are many aspects of evolution that could be taught at the undergraduate level, and content will vary depending on the course-context. Some basic components include the evidence for evolution, microevolution, speciation and macroevolution. However, teaching evolution offers exciting opportunities to convey more than just content. Evolutionary biology immerses students in the process of science and should encourage them to think critically and to carefully analyse concepts, problems and evidence. It offers students nearing graduation the opportunity to draw together their learning across different areas in biology, asking them to synthesize their thinking and appreciate how problems in evolution can be analysed with multidisciplinary tools. In this paper we argue the importance of teaching evolution and justify its place in the teaching curriculum by providing examples of its wide applications, and by using case studies to illustrate the value of inquiry learning in teaching evolution at all undergraduate levels.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Royal Society of Western Australia
Copyright: 2009 Royal Society of Western Australia
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