New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Evolution, Teaching and Assessment of Students in Pre-Service Primary School Teacher Education

Ann Mutvei, Södertörn University (Sweden)

Tomas Bollner, Södertörn University (Sweden)

Jan-Eric Mattsson, Södertörn University (Sweden)


This project aims at assessment of learning outcome of teaching evolutionary theory to pre-service primary school teacher students. The quality of the students understanding and use of evolutionary theory after their participation in seminars and lectures was made by analyzing written reflections of the students. The texts were primarily written by students to show that the knowledge requirements of the course were accomplished but they were here used to analyze their ability to communicate the content but also to evaluate the depth of their understanding of evolutionary theory. For this assessment two different methods were used aiming at the two different targets. One was focused on the students’ use of evolutionary terminology and to what extent they used the language of an evolutionist. Here, we also analyzed whether the students gave accurate explanations or descriptions without using the traditional evolutionary terminology. Thus, mainly the students´ ability in their own writing to present evolutionary reflections in an everyday language was here investigated. This ability may be useful when teaching young students without using a theoretical framework. For the assessment of quality of the students’ own understanding of the theory Doll’s criteria, the four R´s, richness, recursion, relations, and rigor, were used. Richness refers to the depth, the layers of meaning in their texts. Recursion is here referring to the students’ use of making thoughts loop back on themselves and earlier experiences. The use of relations are important when developing thinking in different areas. Here, both the students’ references to relations to other persons as well as to objects, theories, places etc. were recorded. Rigor means in this context to purposely look for different alternatives, relations, connections, new combinations, interpretations and patterns.

The results may briefly be summarized as follows: 1) most of the student does not use evolutionary terminology but 2) are fairly good at presenting their thoughts within the theoretical framework in everyday language, although 3) they often show problems in distinguishing processes on molecular, individual, and population levels.

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