paragraph describing how the activity illustrated the theory of natural selection using the following terms: adaptation, selection, genetic
variation, trait variation, environment, and population.
Table 7 shows that, depending on the question, between
78% and 100% of students correctly answered natural selection
questions. The total quiz and exam averages (covering topics
other than evolution) were 58% and 73%, respectively, showing
greater understanding of natural selection. A paired t-test (alpha
level 0.05) indicated that students answered more natural selection questions correctly (M = 88.4, SD = 16.2) than non–natural
selection questions (M = 71.4, SD = 13.7) on the same examination (t68 = 2.0, p < 0.001). In addition, 100% of students
attempting the lab report assignment at the conclusion of the
activity correctly explained how the lab illustrated natural selection (n = 75).
We have found this short laboratory exercise to be an engaging
method to teach fundamental principles of natural selection. This
interactive activity uses an analogy to assist student learning by
building on students’ own relevant knowledge, a pedagogically
supported technique (Glynn, 1994).
Such noncontroversial activities are particularly needed in
regions where lack of acceptance of evolution is founded in iden-tity-protective cognition. In such areas, simply providing scientific
information fails to foster acceptance of scientific conclusions, and
other means of teaching the concepts are necessary (Walker et al.,
2017). Our students truly enjoy the pancake-making exercise,
and evidence shows that they learn much from this demonstration.
Many common misconceptions, such as “survival of the fittest” and
“individual evolution,” are easily identified and articulated by students after completing this lab.
We wish to thank the many undergraduates at Maryville College
who participated in this laboratory. Funding for this project was
provided by Maryville College Division of Natural Sciences and by
a grant from the U.S. Department of Education (no. P116Z100249).
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D. ANDREW CRAIN is a Professor of Biology at Maryville College,
Maryville, TN 37804; email: email@example.com.
MATTHEW HALE is completing his Ph.D. in Ecology at the Odom School of
Ecology, University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecology Lab, Aiken,
SC 29802; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.