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Introduction - course is experimental in that it does not...

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Introduction In April of 1998, the National Academy of Sciences published the booklet Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science (NAS, 1998). The booklet challenges teachers to use evolution as the organizing theme in teaching biology, rather than treating evolution as a separate topic. The NAS also emphasizes the importance of teaching biology students the nature of science. These recommendations are admirable, but their acceptance so far has been limited. In this article I report on my efforts to teach the nature of science and to use evolution as the framework for teaching biology. Since the Fall of 1997, I have been teaching a non-major’s general biology course, Biology 101, at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. I have now taught the course eight times to a combined total of over seven hundred students. The
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Unformatted text preview: course is experimental in that it does not follow the traditional scope and sequence for teaching biology, as exemplified by the majority of current textbooks for a non-major’s general biology course. The major changes that I have made are 1) evolution and the history of life are used as the curriculum framework and 2) an extensive unit has been added on the history and philosophy of science. Although the design of the course predates the publication of the NAS booklet, the curriculum changes I have made follow the NAS’s central recommendations. As a result, my experience teaching this course represents an unintended test case for the NAS recommendations on teaching evolution and the nature of science....
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