Cladogram Curriculum: A First Look Into A Teaching Prototype For The Fundamentals Of Phylogenetics
Past research has examined students’ comprehension of and reasoning with evolutionary relationships depicted by cladograms (i.e., tree thinking). Cladograms serve as a fundamental resource when studying macroevolution and it is for this reason that students need to have a clear understanding of, and ability to reason with, these diagrams. Past research has found misconceptions and difficulties within the understanding of cladograms, particularly with students in upper level biology classes. This difficulty has left researchers calling for cladogram education to be introduced prior to upper level biology courses and perhaps as early as high school. This study created an early prototype of a curriculum in order to give students this basic cladogram education. The curriculum was effective in raising scores on previously tested skills for college students, with both stronger and weaker biology backgrounds. Although the curriculum was not effective for every tree-thinking skill tested, overall it led to higher performance for both groups.