Development and Pilot Testing of a Three-Dimensional, Phenomenon-based Unit that Integrates Evolution and Heredity

To realize the promise of the Next Generation Science Standards, educators require new three-dimensional, phenomenon-based curriculum materials. We describe and report on pilot test results from such a resource—Evolution: DNA and the Unity of Life. Designed for the Next Generation Science Standards, this freely available unit was developed for introductory high school biology students. It builds coherent understanding of evolution over the course of seven to 8 weeks. Based around multiple phenomena, it includes core ideas about evolution, as well as pertinent core ideas from heredity. The unit integrates relevant crosscutting concepts as well as practice in analyzing and interpreting skill-level-appropriate data from published research, and constructing evidence-based arguments. We report results from a national pilot test involving 944 grade nine or ten students in 16 teachers’ classrooms. Results show statistically significant gains with large effect sizes from pretest to posttest in students’ conceptual understanding of evolution and genetics. Students also gained skill in identifying claims, evidence, and reasoning in scientific arguments.

Homburger, S. A., Drits-Esser, D., Malone, M., Pompei, K., Breitenbach, K., Perkins, R. D., Anderson, P. C., Barber, N. C., Hawkins, A. J., Katz, S., Kelly, M., Starr, H., Bass, K. M., Roseman, J. E., Hardcastle, J., DeBoer, G., & Stark, L. A. (2019). Development and pilot testing of a three-dimensional, phenomenon-based unit that integrates evolution and heredity. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 12(13).