1. Louisa Stark
  2. https://medicine.utah.edu/faculty/mddetail.php?facultyID=u0134900
  3. Director
  4. Building High School Students’ Understanding of Evolution through Collection and Analysis of Data, Evidence-Based Arguments, and an Understanding of Heredity
  5. https://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/evolution/
  6. Genetic Science Learning Center, University of Utah
  1. Dina Drits-Esser
  2. Senior Research Associate
  3. Building High School Students’ Understanding of Evolution through Collection and Analysis of Data, Evidence-Based Arguments, and an Understanding of Heredity
  4. https://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/evolution/
  5. Genetic Science Learning Center, University of Utah
  1. Sheila Homburger
  2. Science Content Manager
  3. Building High School Students’ Understanding of Evolution through Collection and Analysis of Data, Evidence-Based Arguments, and an Understanding of Heredity
  4. https://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/evolution/
  5. Genetic Science Learning Center, University of Utah
  1. Molly Malone
  2. Sr. Education Specialist
  3. Building High School Students’ Understanding of Evolution through Collection and Analysis of Data, Evidence-Based Arguments, and an Understanding of Heredity
  4. https://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/evolution/
  5. Genetic Science Learning Center, University of Utah
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Dina Drits-Esser

    Dina Drits-Esser

    Co-Presenter
    May 12, 2019 | 11:01 p.m.

    Thank you for visiting our Evolution: DNA and the Unity of Life video! We have completed development and testing of this curriculum unit and encourage you to ask questions about either of these processes. We are particularly interested in your feedback on dissemination, including the following:

    1. What are your suggestions for publication venues for both researcher and practitioner audiences?
    2. In addition to NARST, ASTE, AERA, NABT and NSTA, where might we present to extend our outreach?
  • Icon for: David Campbell

    David Campbell

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 05:10 p.m.

    This team has done good work over the years.  It's so nice to see evolution as a major focus in the high school curriculum.  We've come a long way over the last 20 years!  Have you contacted publishers of high school textbooks to see if they would be interested in incorporating your units?

  • Icon for: Dina Drits-Esser

    Dina Drits-Esser

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 12:19 p.m.

    Thanks for the compliment!  We haven't contacted publishers but will start thinking about this possibility. Thanks!

  • May 13, 2019 | 09:02 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing about your very interesting work. Helping teachers build students' understanding of evolution is much needed!

    How does the unit support teachers in facilitating discussions about evolution? Do teachers provide feedback about challenges they meet during such discussions?

    As for publication venues, the first thing that popped in my mind is the "American Biology Teacher" journal.

    Looking forward to reading more about your work!

     

  • Icon for: Molly Malone

    Molly Malone

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 01:57 p.m.

    Thank you for your questions and publication suggestion.

    Feedback from teachers during the development of the materials indicated that avoiding human examples removes a number of challenges they face when covering evolution in their classrooms. Therefore, the materials use only non-human examples (and of course there is room for teachers to overlay their favorite human examples). Building in support for teachers who wish to facilitate classroom discussions on evolution is a great idea for a next round of work on the project.

    For now, we’ve received overwhelming feedback that focusing on the science practice of argumentation using a claim, evidence and reasoning framework helps students and teachers navigate any controversy and is a great way to focus classroom discussion.

     

     

  • Icon for: Mary Murphy

    Mary Murphy

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 05:28 p.m.

    At this point is this unit available for classroom use outside of your study group?  Your question on dissemination is a good one.  I know there are some conversations about creating a vetted repository of NGSS materials but who is the overseer?, who pays for it?, Who vets? (I know the eQuip rubric has been a part of the discussion).  The need is clear for high quality materials and I appreciate the methods used to evaluate effectiveness.  Carnegie foundation has been involved in the conversation of high quality materials.  Jim Short at Carnegie might have some thoughts about dissemination.  

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Sheila Homburger
  • Icon for: Dina Drits-Esser

    Dina Drits-Esser

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 01:48 p.m.

    Thank you for your feedback, Mary. We'll reach out to Jim to see what his thoughts are.

    We have submitted the unit to the EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science.

  • Icon for: Molly Malone

    Molly Malone

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 05:35 p.m.

    Thank you for your comments!

    The unit is available for free to anyone at: https://teach.genetics.utah.edu/content/evolution/

     

  • Small default profile

    Glen Westbroek

    K-12 Teacher
    May 15, 2019 | 05:30 p.m.

    As one of the "beta testers?" I can share that I enjoyed seeing my students growth in understanding Evolution. I went back to the online unit this year and implemented it in my classroom. Many students commented on how they understood the process of Evolution after completing the unit. I recommend all Biology teachers look over this unit and consider how it may help their students.

  • Icon for: Dina Drits-Esser

    Dina Drits-Esser

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 11:48 p.m.

    Thank you so much for your comment, Glen! Your feedback as the very first beta tester of the 20 teachers was invaluable. Among other lessons we took from observing in your classroom, we learned about the realities and practicalities of teaching in a 40+ student classroom. We have tried to make our unit appropriate and flexible for use in large classrooms such as this as well as with smaller class sizes.

  • Icon for: Jacob Grohs

    Jacob Grohs

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2019 | 06:51 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing!  I wonder if you are tracking or getting ongoing feedback from those teachers who do use the curriculum?  It seems it would be fascinating to study if certain teachers adopt and use the curriculum more than others and it could help guide future priorities related to your outreach/dissemination question.  Conferences are a great opportunity but I know some of the teachers and school systems I work with are not able to attend conferences due to travel and budget constraints so I often wonder how an even broader audience can be reached. Any ideas or future goals related to this?  

  • Icon for: Sheila Homburger

    Sheila Homburger

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 11:54 a.m.

    Hi Jacob! Thanks for your comments, and you ask some very good questions. 

    I agree -- it would be fascinating to know more about who is using the unit and how, and also about those who decide the unit does not work for them. We collected a lot of data during pilot testing and the RCT from teachers about whether they plan to use the materials in the future, and if so how they plan to use them (all or parts, in sequence or not, with or without additional materials). We also asked them for information that would help us understand why. But of course intentions are different from actions.  

    We haven't yet tried to reach out more broadly to teachers about their use of the unit. In the past, we have created online surveys to gather data about who is using our materials, through a link that pops up when a user visits the web page. Something like this could be useful for this project, and indeed it would provide valuable insight that could inform future dissemination strategies.

    We have discussed creating an online space for educators who use the unit to share strategies, ask questions, and offer feedback to the developers. It's something that teachers have asked for, and we would gain additional insight from their conversations. But as of now, we don't have funding or specific plans to create such a space.

    We do know from teacher feedback that our unit has a high amount of reading compared to other curricula teachers have used. So teachers with a high proportion of students with reading challenges struggled with the unit. Since a goal of this project was to make the materials accessible to all students, we would like to be able to provide additional support for teachers who need to adapt the materials for students with reading and other challenges. An online space could help with that, as teachers could share strategies about this aspect as well.

    You make an excellent point about only some teachers being able to attend conferences. For this project, we are trying to present at as many regional conferences as we can, as there is a lower cost and time commitment for attending. Some of these presentations have been done by pilot test teachers who have experienced the unit. Though we're not doing it for this project, one dissemination strategy we've used in the past is to hold a workshop (in person or online) for educators who are (a) interested in learning about new curricula we've developed and (b) willing to conduct a workshop for other educators in their district or region introducing them to the curricula. 

    Those are just a few ideas... and thanks for the prompts to get me thinking about this more broadly and deeply!

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 15, 2019 | 09:46 a.m.

    Hi, 

       This is an interesting presentation — great to see more tools for teaching evolution out there. What (if any) influence did the research about how many teachers DON"T teach evolution have on your design?  

     A few notes by the way: Ths is very "animal-centric"!  Polyploidy and symbiosis are pretty important in other groups-- so I hope you can get a Tragopogon story, and maybe a mitochondria story, into a future version.   Also, this is (not surprisingly) very genetics-focused (as opposed to organismal), and I merely point out that "natural selection" and "differential reproductive success" include a lot of unspoken ecology.  Also, although the Hawthorne-Apple story is a great example to bring up, as an example of evolution in process, the main emphasis seems to be on "millions of years," -- so the exciting developments in studyig rapid, current evolution is another part of the story that might be usable in a future edition of this good curriculum?

  • Icon for: Sheila Homburger

    Sheila Homburger

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 01:36 p.m.

    Hi Brian. Thanks for your questions and comments, and for taking the time to look through the unit. I'll address the pieces I can and leave it to other team members to add on as needed.

    We collected a lot of feedback from educators before we even started with curriculum development, as well as during multiple rounds of iterative development. This feedback informed our choices related to some of the questions & issues you raise and definitely helped to shape the curriculum. For example, teachers told us that their students connect more with animals than plants--both in terms of student interest and examples they learn most easily from. In an online survey, teachers told thus they spend about 8 weeks of class time on evolution, so we had to make some hard decisions in the interest of efficiency about what to include and what to leave out. That said, your point about plants is important, and we have been doing more work as an organization to develop education materials about plant genetics and evolution--and even symbiosis. So hopefully educators will be able to use these resources to make additional connections to evolution.

    We also drew from research suggesting that students understand evolution better when they learn the underlying molecular mechanisms. We put a lot of effort into making this connection between molecular genetics and evolution throughout the unit. I think one positive aspect of this approach is that when you focus on the mechanics of evolution, there is less room for the types of philosophical discussions about evolution that might be uncomfortable for reluctant teachers. And as Molly mentioned in an earlier comment, we structured the whole unit around a claims-evidence-reasoning argumentation scaffold, and we incorporated data analysis. Again, this helps teachers steer away from controversy and focus the discussion on data, evidence, and reasoning.

    I was surprised to learn how the social controversy around human evolution affects what happens in high school classrooms. During a summer institute with our pilot test teachers, we asked if any of them would get pushback (e.g., from students, parents, or administrators) for teaching human evolution—and well over half the hands in the room went up! Based on this, we decided to focus on non-human examples in the parts of the unit that have to do with common ancestry, natural selection, and speciation, and leave it to teachers to add human examples if they want to. We would have loved to include more on human evolution, but we decided it was more important to focus on making materials that everyone could use.

    Yes, ecology is definitely at play in the examples we used in our unit and in all of evolution. As we started developing our unit, we pretty quickly realized that our budget and time allotments were not going to let us cover everything. So we made the hard decision to not address the DCIs related to ecology, biodiversity, and human impacts. We hope teachers will be able to use our unit as a foundation to build upon as they address these important topics. 

  • Small default profile

    Lisa Borgia

    K-12 Teacher
    May 15, 2019 | 10:45 a.m.

    I was involved in the first pilot of this curriculum. I loved it then, and have used it the last two years as well. I continue to teach Evolution with this unit because it is effective, uses real-world data, requires students to think critically and draw conclusions based on various lines of evidence, incorporates short videos that keep students engaged, and best of all, results in increased student understanding. 

  • Icon for: Sheila Homburger

    Sheila Homburger

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 11:56 a.m.

    Thank you Lisa -- for the comment and for all your hard work helping us refine the unit. I'm so happy you find it effective and continue to use it.

    Best, Sheila

  • Small default profile

    Mickey MacDonald

    K-12 Teacher
    May 15, 2019 | 08:58 p.m.

    I was lucky enough to be selected to Beta test this curriculum in my Biology classroom last year and then I repeated implementation of all five modules with my students this year. Next year, another teacher at my school will be implementing these modules as take a different teaching position. As a school, we have slowly been moving towards NGSS implementation even though our state has not adopted NGSS and three-dimensional learning. We believe that good curricula, embedded with multiple opportunities for students to practice science using authentic data pieces, makes learning science come alive. What particularly stands out about this 3-D learning unit is its cohesive among the learning activities from module to module and the depth of understanding about evolution with which students know upon completion of this unit.

    As a singleton biology teacher within my school, trying to develop a three-dimensional unit on my own was impossible. Even looking for quality NGSS-aligned three-dimensional units is limiting. This unit, Evolution: DNA and the Unity of Life, far exceeds any other curricular units with its authenticity of data, and with its abundance of analyzing/interpreting data and scientific argumentation using the CER framework. I have been fortunate enough to not only test this curriculum for the Genetic Science Leaning Center, I have also been able to present this curriculum at the state, regional, and national levels. I cannot recommend highly enough for teachers of Biology to give this curriculum a try!

  • Icon for: Mickey MacDonald

    Mickey MacDonald

    K-12 Teacher
    May 15, 2019 | 08:58 p.m.

    I was lucky enough to be selected to Beta test this curriculum in my Biology classroom last year and then I repeated implementation of all five modules with my students this year. Next year, another teacher at my school will be implementing these modules as take a different teaching position. As a school, we have slowly been moving towards NGSS implementation even though our state has not adopted NGSS and three-dimensional learning. We believe that good curricula, embedded with multiple opportunities for students to practice science using authentic data pieces, makes learning science come alive. What particularly stands out about this 3-D learning unit is its cohesiveness among the learning activities from module to module and the depth of understanding about evolution with which students know upon completion of this unit.

    As a singleton biology teacher within my school, trying to develop a three-dimensional unit on my own was impossible. Even looking for quality NGSS-aligned three-dimensional units is limiting. This unit, Evolution: DNA and the Unity of Life, far exceeds any other curricular units with its authenticity of data, and with its abundance of analyzing/interpreting data and scientific argumentation using the CER framework. I have been fortunate enough to not only test this curriculum for the Genetic Science Leaning Center, I have also been able to present this curriculum at the state, regional, and national levels. I cannot recommend highly enough for teachers of Biology to give this curriculum a try!

  • Icon for: Dina Drits-Esser

    Dina Drits-Esser

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 12:49 p.m.

    Thank you Mickey for this comment. We have appreciated your sharing this unit with other teachers at your school and presenting it at multiple conferences and meetings. Our data collection from beta and RCT teachers have reflected similar feedback to yours--teachers appreciated the unit's cohesiveness, opportunities for data analysis, and the building of student skills in CER, all of which likely contributed to the depth of student understanding you noted.

  • Icon for: Jeanne Reis

    Jeanne Reis

    Researcher
    May 20, 2019 | 07:17 a.m.

    High quality field-tested instructional materials are so valuable, thank you all for doing this work! I'm wondering whether your units have been applied with English learning students, and whether UDL principles were factored into the process. Our team creates STEM instructional content and vocabulary in ASL and we recently developed a unit on genetics, so I wonder whether the modules you've created might be used as a foundation for parallel ASL modules that would engage deaf ASL-signing students. 

  • Icon for: Dina Drits-Esser

    Dina Drits-Esser

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2019 | 03:06 p.m.

    Hi Jeanne,

    Thank you for your comments!  6% of the pilot test student sample and 3% of the RCT student sample (3.0% treatment, 3.2% control) indicated that English was not their primary language.  Our results showed no statistically significant performance differences between these students and any other subgroup from pretest to posttest.  Teacher feedback on surveys and in interviews indicated that some of the reading examples were complicated for some English language learners.

    We did not formally factor UDL principles into the development process but our materials almost always cover important concepts in multiple ways (reading, listening, doing).  Our videos include captioning and options for pausing.  In general, our curriculum classroom testing has shown that the materials are flexible enough for teachers to be able to use different strategies for eliciting student understanding. Our typical development process uses highly-visual and low-vocabulary approaches, which we believe might parallel and support ASL modules.  We are very interested in your feedback on whether this unit could be useful to you.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.