To uncover student ideas regarding evolution, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 eighth grade students at a Los Angeles urban public charter school. This study was designed to learn about student understandings regarding speciation, the mechanisms and purposes of trait development, and differences in how students explain human versus non-human examples. Hybridization and adaption to the environment emerged as major themes for non-human speciation. Other than a basic recognition that trait development is related to genetics and some understanding of mutation, students' understanding of genetic diversity and natural selection was limited, and they thought traits mainly developed because species must purposely adapt to their environment. When explaining evolutionary processes in humans, students did not discuss hybridization or predator-prey interactions, and they thought that humans could consciously affect their trait development. Overall, these students appear to represent transitional reasoning, incorporating common misconceptions with ideas from initial instruction.
|Commitee:||Colburn, Alan, Straits, William|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 51/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
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