Controversial Before Entering My Classroom: Exploring Pre-Service Teacher Experiences with Evolution Teaching and Learning in the Southeastern United States

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Contribution to Book

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Evolution Education Around the Globe



Evolution continues to be a polarizing topic amongst the public as well as in K-12 and post-secondary classrooms. One issue that contributes to the polarization is the absence of accurate and meaningful instruction on evolution. The divide is especially pronounced in regions such as “The South”—Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee—where cultural underpinnings strongly align against scientific topics dealing with human origins and change. Research shows that acceptance or rejection of evolution provides a reference for teachers’ choice whether to teach controversial topics such as evolution as well as the depth, breadth and duration of instruction. In this chapter we take a deeper look at the lived experiences of pre-service science teachers at a teaching college in the Southeastern United States in an effort to frame a context within the region by which later choices regarding teaching are made. Furthermore, we provide suggestions for improvements to teaching and learning that have implications beyond this critical region. Although public controversy surrounding evolution is widely regarded as being defining of the United States, the implications of studies here have translational value to teaching and learning evolution around the world.


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