Elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers may experience considerable unease when teaching evolution in the context of the Earth or life sciences (Griffith and Brem, in press). Many factors may contribute to their discomfort, including personal conceptualizations of the evolutionary process - especially human evolution, the most controversial aspect of evolutionary theory. Knowing more about the mental representations of an evolutionary rocess could help researchers to understand the challenges educators face in addressing scientific principles. These insights could inform educators of alternative methods in providing support and assistance. In this study, we examined pre-service teachers' conceptual representations of an evolutionary process through their personal narratives of evolution for an imaginary humanoid species on a far-off planet. The imaginary creature participants described tended to resemble humans in both form and evolutionary history. The narratives had a tendency to link evolutionary changes with social and moral consequences. Those whose narratives closely paralleled human evolution also seemed to have difficulty envisioning evolutionary changes that would take the species past current human development and into their evolutionary future. The connection among social and moral issues, evolution, and difficulties envisioning the future may provide important clues into pre-service teachers' conceptualizations of human evolution. Addressing personal barriers and misunderstandings that might impede geoscience education may become an effective tool for teaching scientific principles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)