Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 371–392 | Cite as

Student Teachers’ Approaches to Teaching Biological Evolution

  • Lisa A. Borgerding
  • Vanessa A. Klein
  • Rajlakshmi Ghosh
  • Albert Eibel


Evolution is fundamental to biology and scientific literacy, but teaching high school evolution is often difficult. Evolution teachers face several challenges including limited content knowledge, personal conflicts with evolution, expectations of resistance, concerns about students’ conflicts with religion, and curricular constraints. Evolution teaching can be particularly challenging for student teachers who are just beginning to gain pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge related to evolution teaching and who seek approval from university supervisors and cooperating teachers. Science teacher educators need to know how to best support student teachers as they broach the sometimes daunting task of teaching evolution within student teaching placements. This multiple case study report documents how three student teachers approached evolution instruction and what influenced their approaches. Data sources included student teacher interviews, field note observations for 4–5 days of evolution instruction, and evolution instructional artifacts. Data were analyzed using grounded theory approaches to develop individual cases and a cross-case analysis. Seven influences (state exams and standards, cooperating teacher, ideas about teaching and learning, concerns about evolution controversy, personal commitment to evolution, knowledge and preparation for teaching evolution, and own evolution learning experiences) were identified and compared across cases. Implications for science teacher preparation and future research are provided.


Student teachers Evolution education Teacher education Science methods courses Cooperating teachers 


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Copyright information

© The Association for Science Teacher Education, USA 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa A. Borgerding
    • 1
  • Vanessa A. Klein
    • 1
  • Rajlakshmi Ghosh
    • 1
  • Albert Eibel
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum StudiesKent State UniversityKentUSA

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