Nothing in Evolution Makes Sense Except in the Light of DNA

Abstract

Natural selection is one of the most important concepts for biology students to understand, but students frequently have misconceptions regarding how natural selection operates. Many of these misconceptions, such as a belief in “Lamarckian” evolution, are based on a misunderstanding of inheritance. In this essay, we argue that evolution instructors should clarify the genetic basis of natural selection by discussing examples of DNA sequences that affect fitness. Such examples are useful for showing how natural selection works, for establishing connections between genetics and evolution, and for creating cognitive conflict within students having misconceptions. We describe several examples of genes that instructors might use during lectures, and present preliminary evidence from our classroom that an evolution curriculum rich in DNA sequences is effective at reducing student misconceptions of natural selection

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This paper was published in PubMed Central.

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