Evidence-Based Claims and Belief

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1 Evidence-Based Claims and Belief Andrew P. Martin University of Colorado Copyright 2015 Contents Practical Overview 2 Pedagogical Overview 3 Learning Goals 4 Instructor Preparation Prior to Class 5 Description of In-Class Activities 6-11 Student Homework In Class Activities Rubric 24 Example Summative Assessment Questions 25-26

2 Practical Overview Student preparation and homework prior to class 1) Students complete a brief survey and construct an evidence-based claim that stem from quotes about evolution by politicians. The claim should be submitted online. Instructor preparation prior to class 1) Instructor compiles the data from the class survey and adds the data to the summary of the survey results from a Gallup poll 2) The instructor summarizes some aspects of the evidence based claims submitted by students In-class Implementation Time: 50 minutes Activities 1) Compare and contrast CU students and general public (10 minutes) 2) Constructing a graph (10 minutes) 3) Constructing a consensus evidence-based argument (30 minutes) Materials 1) Clicker station 2) Handouts for students

3 Pedagogical Overview Many students have mixed mental models that are a combination of scientific thinking and intuition. It is likely that the intuitive models have been influenced, to a greater or lesser degree, by religious teachings. When confronted with claims about evolution that conflict with a student's model of the world, students will often discard evidence and fall back on their beliefs. It is important that students grapple with the nature of science that claims without evidence are beliefs or opinions that fall outside the scientific process. Students need to practice making claims on the basis of evidence. This lesson is designed so that students begin to question their intuitive mental models of the world not in a way that is confrontational but in a manner that is wholly embedded in the scientific process.

4 Learning Goals Content Learning Goals 1) Explain why different people may have different perspective about evolution 2) Compare and contrast scientific claims and other types of claims Process Learning Goals 1) Demonstrate science as a way of knowing Formulate hypotheses and derive or use models that make testable predictions Design experiments that test predictions of hypotheses or models Record observations about the world with minimal error and bias Correctly interpret information presented in graphs, tables, illustrations, and text-based descriptions and use the information to construct evidencebased claims Assess the uncertainty of claims Use quantitative and qualitative methods for analyzing data as a means to choose among competing claims, models, or hypotheses using objective and rationally defensible criteria 2) Communicate with purpose, clarity and brevity Articulate evidence-based claims Construct easy-to-interpret graphs, tables, illustrations, and text-based descriptions of information Use models to represent the world Assess the extent that your claims are influenced by cultural context (e.g. norms, society, emotions, etc) 3) Cooperate with individuals of varying background, abilities, and perspective for achieving a common goal Listen with purpose and intention Achieve consensus Negotiate with mutual interests in mind and without confrontation Leverage differences in expertise

5 Instructor Preparation Prior to Class Compiling the survey data Students take a survey on-line prior to class. The answers need to be compiled and appropriately graphs developed for showing the class the results. In addition, the instructor needs to construct a graph that shows student responses next to the responses from the general public reported from a Gallup poll. Describe an "expert" evidence-based claim The instructor should provide a grade, based on a clear rubric, for student written claims with evidence and choose a several that were excellent to highlight in class. The student work should be presented anonymously. Review the powerpoint slides The instructor should review the accompanying powerpoint (MakingClaims.ppt).

6 Description of Activity for Instructor Summarize perspectives (10 minutes) Prior to class, the instructor summarizes the student survey data. The instructor should choose a couple of questions as a context for stimulating discussion about evolution and science. It is important, however, that the beliefs of students are not belittled or offensively challenged. The goal is to describe the variation in perspectives about the world. The instructor needs to make it clear that all statements or claims made by students should be respectful. The goal of the discussion is to make it clear that science is not about belief: it is about making and accepting claims about the world based on objective evaluation of evidence. In this context, statements are either accepted or rejected instead of being "believed or not". There are survey data that provide the basis for comparing the class results with a Gallup poll of randomly sampled citizens of the United States (Figure 1). The instructor provides students with the data from the class and students add to the graph based on randomly sampled Americans. Students are asked to provide one explanation for why the data from the CU students and the American public are similar or different. The instructor should ask for different reasons, construct a clicker question, and ask students to choose the explanation that explains most of the difference between the distribution of answers. Figure 1. Summary of the "beliefs" of Americans about the evolution of humans.

7 Figure 2. Graph that can be used to directly compared student survey results with randomly sampled Americans. The data included are from the Gallup poll. The instructor should add the class data based on the student surveys submitted prior to class. These data are from the Evolutionary Biology class at CU. Once students see the difference between them and the general public, they are asked to explain the difference. Student explanations are written down and once there are four different explanations, students are asked to vote on the one they think explains most of the difference between the two groups using clickers. Overwhelmingly, students choose education as the most important explanation of the difference (Figure 3). The Gallup poll divided the results by education level (Figure 4). This provides the basis for discussion about the role of education and the effect of education on the development of naturalistic explanations of the world.

8 Figure 4. Results from the Gallup poll about evolutionary perspectives of the general population sorted by the education level of individuals polled. Students are asked to draw a graph based on the data. The reason to do this is to initiate the expectation that students draw graphs: this will happen a lot in the class. The second is that it is likely that different students will draw different graphs. It is important for students to see that there is more than one way to construct and informative graph. Different types of graphs are provided as a clicker question and students are asked to choose the graph that resembles (or matches) the graph they constructed (Figure 5). Figure 5. Clicker question for investigating why and how graphs are constructed.

9 With the different graphs displayed, the students should be asked to choose one graph and explain the data. Additionally, the same clicker question can be used to ask which of the three graphs (A-C) best conveys the relevant information. This provides a basis to query students about why they think one way of viewing data is better than some other way. A key point of this exercise is to convey the truth that different groups of people think differently in part because of the collective level of education. It is worth expanding on this idea by showing how the United States compares with other countries with respect to the acceptance of an evidence-based claim in evolutionary biology (Figure 6). Figure 6. Response to the claim "Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals" for a large number of samples from different countries. Constructing and reviewing an evidence-based argument (30 minutes) Prior to class, students submitted a brief (< 200 words) claim stemming from comments about evolution by three prominent and influential politicians (see Students Expectations Prior to Class above). Students form pairs and peer-review each other's

10 work using a checklist of items as a guide for the review process. After peer review, the two students construct a consensus statement stemming from each student's reviewed work. The main goal of this exercise is to get students working together to produce something that would be better than each student could achieve individually. In addition, there is a checklist for behaviors that promote constructively working together to achieve a common goal. The consensus statement should be submitted on-line and include the two checklists with the appropriate boxes checked.

11 Student Homework There are three things students are expected to do prior to class: complete a brief survey administered using an online platform, write a short rebuttal that focuses on the nature of science, and write an evidence-based claim that either supports or refutes claims made by prominent politicians. All of the information should be submitted online. The Survey Q1: Choose the statement that is true A) God created humans in present form B) Humans evolved from ancestors that were different from what is present on Earth today C) Humans evolved from ancestors that were different from what is present on Earth today and God guided the process Q2: Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals A) True B) False C) Unsure Q3: There is not sufficient evidence to choose whether humans evolved by descent with modification from ape ancestry or were created by God. A) True B) False C) I don't know Q4: Knowledge of the natural world gained through science and religion are not mutually incompatible; in other words, scientific and religious thinking combined provide the best explanation for the natural world. A) Agree B) Disagree C) Uncertain

12 Construct an evidence-based claim Students are asked to read the quote below and to construct a brief evidence-based argument that either refutes or supports one of Obama's claims. The student's argument should be 150 words or less. "If one of your daughters asked you, 'Daddy, did God really create the world in 6 days?' What would you say? What I believe is that God created the universe, and that the 6 days in the Bible may not be 6 days as we understand it. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth, that is fundamentally true. Now whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible, that I don t presume to know. But one last point--i do believe in evolution. I don t think that is incompatible with Christian faith. Just as I don t think science generally is incompatible with Christian faith. There are those who suggest that if you have a scientific bent of mind, then somehow you should reject religion. And I fundamentally disagree with that. In fact, the more I learn about the world, the more I know about science, the more I m amazed about the mystery of this planet and this universe. And it strengthens my faith as opposed to weakens it." Barack Obama, 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008 Checklist for constructing evidence-based argument The claim that is being supported or refuted is clearly articulated Support or refutation of a claim is clearly stated There is an emphasis on the nature of science (think about what this means) when making the argument There is evidence to support the your argument (as opposed to just stating something or basing your argument on opinion) The writing is succinct (150 words or less) The writing is easy to understand: ideas are clear, organized, and there are no error spelling or grammatical errors

13 Handouts for students Name: Compare and contrast UC-Boulder students and the general public (10 minutes) Based on the data from the class survey, describe two factors (variables) that may explain the difference between the class and the general public. Explanation 1) 2)

14 Name: Constructing and evaluating graphs (10 minutes) Use the data in Table 1 to construct a graph. Use the checklist to assist in constructing your graph. Checklist Axes are labeled There is a legend (if necessary) to distinguish among different categories (or treatments) of interest Relevant information is easily extracted from the graph

15 Name: Partners name: Part 3. Review a peer's argument (15 minutes) Prior to class, you constructed a brief evidence-based argument that supports or refutes a claims made by a prominent and influential politician. Swap your argument with another student and provide constructive feedback to the student about their argument using the checklist as a guide. Put an X in the checklist box if the student's argument you are reviewing included the listed characteristic of the argument. For example, if the student argument you review includes evidence, then check the fourth box from the top of the list. Checklist for constructing evidence-based argument The claim that is being supported or refuted is clearly articulated (e.g. "Obama claimed that...") Support or refutation of one of Obama's claims is clearly stated (e.g. "I refute Obama's claim that...") There is an emphasis on the nature of science (think about what this means) when making the argument (e.g. "Science involves making claims based on..." or "Science as a way of knowing depends on...") There is evidence to support the your argument (as opposed to just stating something or basing your argument on opinion) (e.g. "The observation that X and Y...") The writing is succinct (150 words or less) The writing is easy to understand: ideas are clear, organized, and there are no error spelling or grammatical errors

16 Name: Partners name: Part 4. Construct a consensus argument. (15 minutes) After providing constructive feedback, construct a succinct evidence-based argument based on the consensus of the two statements. Submit the claim electronically to the D2L site. Each student that works together should submit the same argument. Turn in this form with each of your names to the professor. Checklist for productively working together Each item on the "checklist for constructing evidence-based argument" is addressed All comments are positive and constructive Students listen to each other Each student is prepared (i.e. arrives in class with their claim in hand or on the computer) Each students remains on task Each student contributes to the development of consensus, meaning that each has an opportunity to contribute and modify the statement When there are differences of opinion, there is fair and equitable negotiation

17 Example Summative Assessment Questions Inspired by Sierra Love-Stowell's final exam question. Q1: You board an airplane and to your surprise you find yourself sitting next to former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney. You find yourself in a discussion about evolution and Mitt says "I believe God is intelligent, and I believe he designed the creation. And I believe he used the process of evolution to create the human body.... True science and true religion are on exactly the same page. They may come from different angles, but they reach the same conclusion. I've never found a conflict between the science of evolution and the belief that God created the universe. He uses scientific tools to do his work. Mitt Romney, The New York Times, May 11, 2007 What do you say to Mitt? When you craft your argument, make sure you focus on evidence-based claims and the nature of science. Q2 Answers to questions about the role of God in the origin and evolution of humans. Students at the University of Colorado and the general American public differ in the distribution of responses to a query about the origin and evolution of humans (see figure above). Briefly explain why the difference exists.

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