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Teacher preparation and evolution education: challenges and opportunities

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Obstacles to teaching and learning evolution have been previously documented and reported. Since biology teachers play an essential role in evolution education, it is important to provide future biology teachers with the competencies needed to cope with these challenges and therefore their professional preparation is key. In a review study of the evolution education literature with a focus on teachers, Sickel and Friedrichsen (2013) analyzed research on K–12 biology teachers and identified five central goals in preparing them to teach evolution: the development of (1) content knowledge (CK) about evolution, (2) understanding of the nature of science (NOS) related to evolution, (3) acceptance of evolution as valid within science, (4) knowledge of and strategies for handling the public controversy, and (5) pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) for teaching evolution. They also stressed that teacher preparation research on evolution should pay more attention to teaching evolution in the classroom. This addresses the finding that declarative knowledge (CK and PCK) prospective teachers learn during their academic preparation at university stays often tacit when later teaching in the classroom. Hence abilities like professional vision (Steinwachs & Martens 2023) should also be trained during teacher preparation.  

Against this background, the goal of this special issue is to focus on challenges for teacher preparation that originate from the unique features of evolution and discuss how to deal with these challenges when preparing future educators to teach evolution.

Guest editors:
Ute Harms, Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Germany
Anat Yarden, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

Teacher preparation and evolution education: challenges and opportunities—introduction to the special issue
Ute Harms and Anat Yarden
Evolution: Education and Outreach 2023 16:14
Published on: 6 October 2023


Curriculum and Education
Reconsidering the goals of evolution education: defining evolution and evolutionary literacy
Kostas Kampourakis
Evolution: Education and Outreach 2022 15:21
Published on: 19 December 2022

What’s effective and ineffective in preparing high school biology educators to teach evolution? Evidence from a representative national U.S. survey
Glenn Branch, Eric Plutzer & Ann Reid
Evolution: Education and Outreach 2023 16:4
Published on: 20 March 2023

Scientists' and teachers' attitudes toward relating to religion when teaching evolution
Reut Stahi-Hitin & Anat Yarden
Evolution: Education and Outreach 2022 15:18
Published on: 12 December 2022

Evolution hesitancy: challenges and a way forward for teachers and teacher educators
Emma Newall & Michael J. Reiss
Evolution: Education and Outreach 2023 16:5
Published on: 22 March 2023

Analyzing pre-service biology teachers' intention to teach evolution using the theory of planned behavior
Helena Aptyka & Jörg Großschedl 
Evolution: Education and Outreach 2022 15:16
Published on: 18 November 2022

Addressing student conceptions in evolution classes: professional vision practices of preservice and in-service biology teachers
Jens Steinwachs & Helge Martens
Evolution: Education and Outreach 2022 15:17
Published on: 21 November 2022