SimBio News: New Study Shows Darwinian Snails Effective for Teaching Natural Selection

The newest study resulting from SimBiotic's educational research has just been published in Evolution: Education and Outreach. The data centers around the effectiveness of the Darwinian Snails lab in counteracting common student misconceptions around natural selection. Led by Dr. Joel Abraham and Judy Perry, the research team from SimBiotic started by finding the most common natural selection misconceptions within a population of several hundred undergraduate students from a wide variety of institutions. These mirrored misconceptions found in other studies, such as students claiming populations willfully change their traits in response to selective pressure.

Using a test for the four most common of these misconceptions, our researchers then asked whether SimBiotic's Darwinian Snails lab has any effect. On three of the misconceptions, students showed significant improvements of up to 49% after completing Darwinian Snails. Interestingly, although this laboratory is designed for an introductory biology class, upper level students actually improved more than introductory students on some questions. We interpret this as evidence that it pays to continue presenting basic concepts of natural selection to students in multiple classes, as it may take several presentations before the ideas finally sink in.

We encourage you to read the full study here. And in honor of completing the study, we have just released a new version of Darwinian Snails in time for fall 2009 classes. The upgrade has beautiful new graphics and other improvements based on feedback we've received from the tens of thousands of students who have now used this lab. Contact us for an evaluation copy.

SimBiotic Software is a leading producer of inquiry-driven simulated laboratories for biology classes. We offer labs from middle school through graduate school levels on a wide range of biology topics including ecology (EcoBeaker®), evolution (EvoBeaker®), cell physiology (OsmoBeaker®), neurobiology (NerveWorks), and environmental science (EcoBeaker: Maine Explorer). Our new SimBio Virtual Labs series includes our most popular and newest labs for college biology classes. SimBiotic Software also has an extensive educational research program. All our efforts aim to improve science teaching worldwide through the use of advanced technology, and have fun doing it.

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