Sep 09-Nov 29, 2019
Credit: 3 graduate
Instructor(s): Louise Mead

Course Description

Registration begins on March 25th - please register for CRN 25013.
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, review evolutionary mechanisms, discuss current topics in evolution research, identify ways of making evolution relevant to the science classroom, and develop lessons to meet Next Generation Science Standards, as well as identify practical techniques and background knowledge for responding to challenges to evolution instruction. Students will be expected to participate in online virtual discussions using Zoom.

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 however weekly group discussions will occur using Zoom, the times of which will be determined by student schedules. If for some reason you cannot use Zoom or make a meeting during a given week accommodations will be made. 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

If you are accepted into a qualified online program, see the appropriate MSU Online Only Tuition and Fee table below:

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please refer to the MSU Fee Schedules.

Required Books/Materials

  • The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution, by Carl Zimmer
    2nd Edition.2014
    ISBN: 9781936221448
    Available as eBook for $35.99 or paper text for $76.11.

Available through macmillan learning

The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

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

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN number. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.