Teach the Earth > Paleontology > Teaching Activities > Evolution vs. Creationism Term Paper Assignment

Evolution vs. Creationism Term Paper Assignment

Katherine Bulinski
,
Bellarmine University
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This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: May 12, 2009

Summary

A term paper assigned for a Evolution vs. Creationism freshman seminar class. The purpose of this assignment is to allow students to critically evaluate one aspect of the Evolution vs. Creationism debate.

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Context

Audience

This course is a freshmen-level interdisciplinary course that focuses entirely on the evolution vs. creationism debate. This course is reading, discussion and writing intensive.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must know the difference between science and religion, understand macro and microevolutionary concepts, and be able to interpret evidence for a 4.5 billion year old earth. Students must also be able to formulate an effective thesis statement and support this thesis statement by using logic and critical thinking skills.

How the activity is situated in the course

This term paper assignment is comprised of several steps which include the formulation of a thesis, the writing of an outline, submission of an annotated bibliography, a rough draft and a final paper. In total, the process of writing this term paper makes up 50% of the total class grade.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • Students should be able to analyze multiple sides of argument or issues related to the evolution/creationism debate
  • Students should be able to analyze arguments for creationism (Young Earth, Old Earth and Intelligent Design) in the context of the scientific method and discern what is and is not science
  • Students should be able to analyze arguments for creationism (Young Earth, Old Earth and Intelligent Design) and discern what is and is not religion
  • Students should be able to analyze and interpret scientific evidence for macro and microevolution.
  • Students should be able to analyze and interpret scientific evidence for a 4.5 billion-year-old earth.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • Students should be able to separate emotional responses from rational/critical responses
  • Students should develop and improve their ability to ask substantive questions both in writing and class discussions.
  • Students should be able to objectively evaluate and defend a viewpoint different than their own
  • Students should be able to generate a range of possible solutions for resolution between conflicting viewpoints

Other skills goals for this activity

  • Students should be able to formulate and support a thesis through formal writing.
  • Students should be able to evaluate the credibility and accuracy of bibliographic sources for use in their research assignments

Description of the activity/assignment

Students are asked to write a formal paper related to the Evolution and Creationism. Students may choose to write a persuasive argument paper, an analytical (compare and contrast) style paper, or an objective research-style paper.

Students explore a major question that includes at least one of the topics explored through class discussion. Some examples include: discussing whether creationism belongs in public schools, exploring the evolution of the creationist movement in the United States or how public perceptions of science has changed since the formal introduction of the theory of evolution.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Standardized participation and writing rubrics are used to score the critical thinking and writing skills of students in Freshmen Seminar courses such as this one. Students receive grades based on how well they meet the writing and participation goals of the class.

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