The Ohio Department of Education L10H23 Critical Analysis of Evolution; Innovative Lesson Plan or Stealthy Advocacy ToolReport as inadecuate

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Online Submission, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Researchers of Science Teaching (NARST) (San Francisco, CA, Apr 2006)

This paper will discuss the ongoing controversy surrounding a particular Ohio Department of Education tenth grade lesson plan titled "Critical Analysis of Evolution" (Ohio Department of Education identification L10H23). The lesson professes to encourage students to "critically examine" evidences for and against evolution and invites them to discuss definitions of some common evolutionary terms and concepts. Proponents insist that this lesson is a thought-provoking exercise in critical thinking and scientific objectively. Critics claim that the lesson is at best, unscientific and at worst, a thinly-veiled attempt to introduce creationist ideas into the classroom in accordance with the so-called "wedge" strategy of certain pro-creationist organizations. A complicating factor is that this lesson plan has been used as the subject of graduate level research on the effect of teaching "the evolution controversy" to Ohio students, and subsequently, this research has been used to support similar initiatives in state hearings outside of Ohio. We will present the findings from a series of surveys conducted with life-science high school teachers, college faculty, and graduate students intended to establish whether or not practicing scientists and science educators agree with the Ohio Board of Education's assessment that "there is no ID [intelligent design] there". We will look for trends in the opinions of different sub-populations, identify key differences of opinions between participants and Ohio Board of Education members and suggest possible reasons for any apparent conflicts of opinion.

Descriptors: Grade 10, Opinions, Criticism, Boards of Education, Creationism, Science Education, Evolution, Controversial Issues (Course Content), State Standards, Content Analysis, Curriculum Development, High Schools, Student Surveys, Teacher Surveys

Author: Day, Robert


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