is important to know your students and their preconceptions early
on in the course. This can most easily be achieved by administering
a survey to your students at the beginning of your course.
The most important
reason to survey your students is to identify the particular conceptions
they have about science and evolution. The
results you obtain can be used as a springboard for discussion.
You could also give these surveys again at the end of the year,
in order to assess the effectiveness of instruction, and to help
you to prepare for the next year.
I have included two surveys here. The first is a student attitude
survey on the nature of science (with a few questions about evolution).
What do they think about science-related concepts? What is their
conception of what science is? The second is a content-based survey
on evolution. The objective is not whether or not they agree with
the statements, but do they think a biologist would agree? Keys
for the surveys (answers that most professional biologists would
give) are also included. Often, the same basic question is asked
more than once, in slightly different ways, so that you can check
the internal consistency of your students. Both of these surveys
should help you to identify the types of conceptions your students
have. Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to focus discussions
on these problem areas.
These survey statements (with some modifications) come from several
different sources, including the ENSI website and several published