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Evolution ChallengesIntegrating Research and Practice in Teaching and Learning about Evolution$
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Karl S. Rosengren, Sarah K. Brem, E. Margaret Evans, and Gale M. Sinatra

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199730421

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730421.001.0001

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Misunderstanding Emergent Causal Mechanism in Natural Selection

Misunderstanding Emergent Causal Mechanism in Natural Selection

(p.145) 7 Misunderstanding Emergent Causal Mechanism in Natural Selection
Evolution Challenges

Michelene T. H. Chi

Agnieszka Kosminska Kristensen

Rod D. Roscoe

Oxford University Press

Learning new concepts and ideas typically requires that the learners activate and bring to bear some prior knowledge for interpreting and assimilating the new ideas. This prior knowledge can be conceived of as some coherent body of relevant knowledge that can be referred to as a schema. Once the new ideas and concepts are assimilated within an existing schema, then the schema can be used to generate new inferences, expectations and explanations. Learning failures and misunderstanding occur, typically, either when the cues in the new materials activate no relevant prior schema, or when the cues activate incomplete and under-developed prior schema. Misconceptions, so prevalent for science concepts, are a special type of learning failures. It is a unique case in which an inappropriate schema is activated for assimilation and generation. This chapter provides a theoretical account for this particular type of learning failures, using natural selection as an example. Some preliminary findings from a pilot study are also presented.

Keywords:   misconceptions, natural selection, schema, science learning, learning failures

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