Building High School Students’ Understanding of Evolution—Both Common Ancestry and Natural Selection—Through Mathematical Arguments, Evidence-based Explanations, and an Understanding of Heredity

The University of Utah will develop a plan for a model curriculum and associated assessments project that integrates science practices, crosscutting concepts, and core disciplinary ideas through the integration of mathematics and science and the application of appropriate educational technologies. The unit plan and prototype lessons will model ways in which quantitative literacy and the Common Core Standards of Mathematics can be addressed in the biology curriculum.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222869
Funding Period: 
Monday, October 1, 2012 to Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Full Description: 

The University of Utah will develop a plan for a model curriculum and associated assessments project that integrates science practices, crosscutting concepts, and core disciplinary ideas through the integration of mathematics and science and the application of appropriate educational technologies. The unit plan and prototype lessons will model ways in which quantitative literacy and the Common Core Standards of Mathematics can be addressed in the biology curriculum. This two-year exploratory research project will take place in the general biology classrooms of teachers in Utah, Maryland and Washington, DC.

The project will develop the following: a detailed plan for a new, 5-week curriculum replacement unit for high school biology that helps students build a coherent understanding of evolution; a valid and reliable set of test items to assess students' understanding of the unit's learning goals using Project 2061 and to refine these measures using an iterative process of development, testing, expert review and revision; prototypes of five evolution lessons from the planned unit. In addition a the researchers will conduct a small-scale pilot test of the prototype lessons with diverse student populations.

The unit plan and prototype lessons will be developed using a learning-goals-driven design model that includes iterative rounds of development, analysis for content coherence using American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Project 2061's valid and reliable analysis procedure, reviews by scientists and teachers, and revision.