Prior studies of active learning (AL) efficacy have typically lacked dosage designs (e.g., varying intensities rather than simple presence or absence) or specification of whether misconceptions were part of the instructional treatments. In this study, we examine the extent to which different doses of AL (approximately 10%, 15%, 20%, 36% of unit time), doses of misconception-focused instruction (MFI; approximately 0%, 8%, 11%, 13%), and their intersections affect evolution learning. A quantitative, quasiexperimental study (N > 1500 undergraduates) was conducted using a pretest, posttest, delayed posttest design with multiple validated measures of evolution understanding. The student background variables (e.g., binary sex, race or ethnicity), evolution acceptance, and prior coursework were controlled. The results of hierarchical linear and logistic models indicated that higher doses of AL and MFI were associated with significantly larger knowledge and abstract reasoning gains and misconception declines. MFI produced significant learning above and beyond AL. Explicit misconception treatments, coupled with AL, should be explored in more areas of life science education.

This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (