Many students have very robust misconceptions about natural selection, stemming from intuitive theories that form a child's earliest understandings of the natural world. For example, students often imagine that species evolve in response to environmental pressures that cause a need for change and that all individuals in the population simultaneously respond to this need by adapting in order to survive. While children's intuitive theories are essential for comprehending many events in their daily experience, they can make learning the counterintuitive theories of science, like natural selection, challenging. To help students develop an understanding of natural selection, teachers need to guide them through an evaluation of the intuitive theory and its well-established scientific counterpart so that they see the failure of the intuitive theory to adequately explain the evidence. In other words, it is critical for the learner to confront his or her misconceptions to break them down, rather than fail to address them. This can be done by presenting students with graphical illustrations of how natural selection works and providing the tools to interpret them. Here we illustrate how to use such a tool, the Identify and Interpret (I2) strategy.
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Vol. 81 • No. 2