about how we identified, screened, and analyzed these papers in
Ziadie & Andrews (2018). None of us have time to read 400 papers
to inform our teaching, so here are some tips to maximize your use
of this collective knowledge in the time you have available.
Tip 1: Use the Searchable File to
Strategically Identify Peer-Reviewed
Papers That Meet Your Specific Needs
The searchable file organizes each paper by several characteristics so
that you can find just what you are looking for. Papers are organized
by the area of instruction (student thinking, instructional strategy,
assessment, learning goals), the type of work (empirical, descriptive, author’s perspective, literature review), evolution topic(s)
(e.g., genetic drift, speciation, population genetics, human evolution), publication year, and journal. For example, if you are preparing to teach a lesson about phylogenetics and you want an evidence-based activity to challenge your students, you can sort the file by
“phylogenetics,” “type,” and “instructional strategies.” You would
find eight papers that describe empirical investigations ( i.e., type =
empirical) of an instructional strategy for teaching phylogenetics to
undergraduates and another 24 papers that describe instructional
strategies but do not investigate their effectiveness ( i.e., type =
descriptive). This searchable file is freely available as a supplemental
material with Ziadie and Andrews (2018) at https://www.lifescied.
Tip 2: Prioritize Papers about Student
An awareness of how students are likely to think about a topic is
central to all facets of teaching. Knowing what prior ideas students
will have and what difficulties they may experience as they learn a
topic will help you design student-centered learning objectives,
assessments, and instruction. There are different types of work that
present collective PCK about student thinking. We recommend
starting with literature reviews, which condense what researchers
have discovered and thus provide high return on invested time.
For many evolutionary topics, there have been too few empirical
investigations of undergraduate thinking to warrant a literature
review (Ziadie & Andrews, 2018). In those cases, there is significant value in reading a single study that describes in detail the ideas
students commonly have about a topic.
Tip 3: Not Sure Where to Start? Here
Are Five Papers That We Highly
• Gregory (2009). Though natural selection seems logical – even
intuitive – to a biologist, it is consistently challenging for undergraduates to learn. Many students retain major misconceptions
about natural selection, even after carefully planned instruction
Figure 1. Pedagogical content knowledge: the indispensable knowledge you didn’t know you had.