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– Paving the way for knowledge of evolution in early elementary education –


Knowledge of evolution is insufficiently used for reasoning in particular contexts of evolution at different study stages. Besides scientific and naïve conceptions, learners also have, cognitive biases such as teleology, essentialism and intentionalism. These seem to be manifest in context-dependent constraints of knowledge relating to evolution (e.g. animals vs. plants). It seems that cognitive constraints hinder the use of scientific conceptions for reasoning. Research verifies the consistence of misconceptions over different study stages such as middle and high school, college, and for preservice teachers. To date, knowledge development of evolution in early childhood has hardly been researched. Psychology reveals that cognitive biases exist from childhood to adulthood and influence the knowledge of evolution. However, these conceptions can hinder learning progressions on evolution. Therefore, EvoPrime aims for (1) initiating scientific conceptions of evolution by (2) accounting for cognitive biases to prepare learners’ naïve conceptions for building knowledge of evolution.


Adler, I.K., Fiedler, D., Harms, U. (2022). Darwin’s tales–A content analysis of how evolution is presented in children’s books. PLOS ONE 17(7). Article e0269197.

Bruckermann, T., Fiedler, D., & Harms, U. (2020). Identifying precursory concepts in evolution during early childhood: A systematic literature review. Studies in Science Education, 57(1), 85-127.

Project participants:

Prof. Dr. Ute Harms

Dr. Daniela Fiedler

Isabell Adler

Dr. Till Bruckermann (until 11/2017)