Montana State University

BIOL 591-802: Teaching Evolution

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Sep 14-Dec 04, 2015
Credit: 3 graduate
Tuition & Fees: $910.65 NSTA members 10% discount
Instructor(s): Louise Mead

Register Online

Course Description

Evolution is a powerful and generative concept that is fundamental to a modern understanding of biology and the natural world. Evolution offers insight into how we came to be, what our future may hold, and how we interact with the living world. However, despite its centrality to modern biology, teaching evolution can be especially challenging. Unlike instruction on many other topics covered in pre-college biology courses (organ systems, cell structure, ecosystem interactions, etc.), evolution instruction may encounter unique sources of resistance and misinformation in addition to more typical misconceptions and teaching challenges.

This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge, teaching skills, and resources they need to teach evolution effectively. In this course, students will get an overview of evolutionary history and theory, an introduction to current topics of evolution research, tools for making evolution relevant to the science classroom and students' lives, and strategies for lesson development, as well as practical techniques and background knowledge for responding to challenges to evolution instruction.

Ultimately, of course, the goal of this course is to change how its students teach in their own science classrooms. We hope that participants in this course will increasingly emphasize evolution in their K-12 classrooms through dynamic and coherent lessons that help their students overcome misconceptions and see how evolution is relevant to their lives.

Meeting Place and Times

Teachers login to the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. It is necessary to connect at least 4 - 6 times per week and spend 11 - 14 hours per week while the course is in session, either online or offline working on course related assignments, to stay current and successfully complete this 3 credit graduate course.


Louise Mead, PhD. is the Education Director at the Center for the Study of Evolution in Action (BEACON) at Michigan State University. She was formerly the Education Project Director for the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, CA. She has her Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and her M.Ed. in Science Education, both from the University of Massachusetts.

Mead has been both a high school science teacher and university lecturer. Her research interests include understanding the evolutionary processes that create and maintain biological diversity, specifically, how sexual selection shapes patterns of evolutionary change and influences the evolution of sexual isolation and speciation. Her dissertation and postdoctoral work included studying courtship behavior and pheromone communication in plethodontid salamanders, using quantitative genetic models to simulate speciation, and describing a new species of salamander from northern California.


Bachelor's degree and preferably teacher certification with one year of teaching experience.

Target Audience

7-12 grade level certified science teachers.

Time Commitment:

11-14 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

 Program Fee $25.50
 Computer Fee$10.65
 Distributed Learning Fee$75.00

A $30 registration fee is also charged once per semester.

The costs above assume that you are taking only MSU Extended University courses during the semester that the course is offered. If you also registered for courses through the MSU Registrar, the regular MSU fee structure may apply.

A $40 late fee will be assessed if payment is not posted to your account by 3 pm (Mountain Time) of the course start date (or the business day before if the course starts on a weekend or a holiday).

To learn more about tuition and fees, please see the University Business Services' Student Accounts Web page.

NSTA Members are eligible to receive a 10% discount on tuition.

Required Books/Materials

  • The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution, by Carl Zimmer
    2nd Edition.
    ISBN: 9781936221448

Available through Roberts & Company Publishers

The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution

Computer Requirements:

  • Computer running Windows XP Service Pack 3 or newer or Mac OS X.5 (Leopard) or higher
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Internet access

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

contact Dr. Louise Mead at for questions regarding course content, or Kelly Boyce at for questions about registration policies.

How to Register

Register Online

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