Student knowledge of evolution deficient

February 26, 2003

Public understanding of evolution is woefully lacking. Despite a considerable boost in evolutionary teachings over the past decade, says Brian Alters, director of McGill's Evolution Education Research Centre, people's lack of evolutionary understanding is still affecting science literacy, research and general academia.

And it's not just the general public who don't understand evolution, warns Alters. "A considerable proportion of college graduates aren't familiar with evolutionary principals either."

These are just some of the issues that Alters has tackled in the last edition of Evolution, in collaboration with Craig E. Nelson, a professor in the Department of Biology and Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior at Indiana University. In their article, the scientists stress that most students retain little of what they learn in college, much less evolutionary theory. Worse, students with extensive secondary-level and college science courses have similar deficits.

The two researchers also explore what distinguishes effective pedagogy from ineffective pedagogy in higher education and, particularly, in evolution education. To obtain a full copy of the Alters-Nelson text, please contact of McGill's University Relations Office. To read the abstract of their article, please consult:
Source: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins,
Communications officer, University Relations Office,

McGill University

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