Understanding Evolution (UE) is a non-commercial, education website, for teaching and learning about the science of evolutionary biology. This site is here to help you understand what evolution is, how it works, and how it factors into your life. This site is a project of the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP).
Understanding Evolution is one of a suite of three educational websites produced by the UCMP that are designed to support teaching and learning about foundational science content:
- Understanding Evolution focuses on evolutionary biology
- Understanding Global Change focuses on Earth systems
- Understanding Science focuses on the nature and process of science
Each of these resources connect many disparate concepts to support deep, coherent understandings of Earth and biological sciences, and how we use science to learn more about the world around us. We invite you to explore our sister sites to further enrich your teaching and learning.
This site was initially developed as a collaborative project of the UCMP and the National Center for Science Education and first launched in 2004. The site’s undergraduate resources were developed in collaboration with the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. It has since been maintained and expanded by the UCMP and has undergone several transitions and expansions. We are indebted to the following individuals, who have all contributed to its success:
Rockman et al (REA), an independent research and evaluation group with expertise in technology interventions in education, conducted a thorough, multi-component evaluation of Understanding Evolution, also referred to in the evaluation as WWW.evolution. Over the course of the website’s development, the evaluation explored multiple aspects of the website and its constituent elements, ranging from its appeal and utility, to its ability to help users understand new concepts and acquire strategies for and confidence in teaching evolution. The evaluation included both formative elements intended to help the design team create an appealing, user-friendly, and useful website, and summative elements designed to explore the impact of the site on its target populations.
- Summary of Evaluation Methods and Findings (Word doc)
- Summary of Evaluation Activities, Samples, and Foci (Word doc)
- Fall ’05 Formative Analysis of New Features: Research Profile, Evo in the News, Short comic strip (Word doc)
- Pilot Study of “The Arthropod Story” (Word doc)
- Evaluation of “Survival of the Sneakiest” (Word doc)
- Pre/Post test — Fall ’05 Survival evaluation (Word doc)
- Summative evaluation of the Undergraduate Lounge resources (pdf)
External support for Understanding Evolution has been provided by The National Science Foundation (under grant nos. 0096613, 0841757, and 0918741). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Additional funding was provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (under grant no. 51003439). Our 2021 overhaul of the site was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (under award no. MA-10-19-0539-19). The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Acknowledgement of grants that funded specific resources within this website are provided in footnotes on those pages. In addition, the UCMP provides ongoing financial support for the site and its maintenance.
The following organizations have worked with UCMP to develop resources for the Understanding Evolution website and to support the teaching of evolution.
- American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS)
- Botanical Society of America
- The National Center for Science Education
- National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)
- The Geological Society of America (GSA)
The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) is a sponsor of the Understanding Evolution website.
Read how others have recognized the Understanding Evolution:
- In March 2017, Understanding Evolution was selected by the National Institutes of Health as their Resource of the Month for biology teachers.
- In 2015, Understanding Evolution was selected by the MERLOT Biology Editorial Board as a winner of the MERLOT Award for Exemplary Online Learning Resources.
- Understanding Evolution was recognized in December 2010 by the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE). This prize was established to encourage innovation and excellence in education, as well as to encourage the use of high-quality on-line resources by students, teachers, and the public. NCSE congratulates Understanding Evolution
- Scientific American.com selected Understanding Evolution for a 2004 Science & Technology Web Award in the Biology category.
- The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse (ENC) selected Understanding Evolution as an exemplary website, part of their Digital Dozen for October 2004
- Science News Online selected Understanding Evolution for its Science Safari in Cyberspace for April 3, 2004.
Read what our users have said about this site:
I am writing, not as a teacher or educator, but as a mere “passer-by” who is awestruck at the simple yet powerful demonstration and learning tool you have created about evolution. What a remarkable thing you have assembled!
Having what I believe to be a firm grasp of evolution, and understanding the difficulties involved with explaining it in a concise and understandable way to others, I am ecstatic at having discovered such an immensely useful resource. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the manner and non-technical tone in which you have produced such a wide review of evolutionary theory. It’s truly fantastic and deserving of a wider audience.
I only wish I could be so succinct and capable with my own words and explanations. Now I don’t need to worry about such things! All I have to do is pass along: https://evolution.berkeley.edu. Brilliant!
Thanks for your time,
Just wanted to offer high praise on the best education site I have ever seen on the web. An expertly organized and presented two speed mini-course on evolution. If you haven’t already, you should get some type of award for it.
My husband and I have really enjoyed reading the Understanding Evolution Website. As a teacher, I especially appreciate the funny graphics and clear delivery. The information is given in small chunks, but it is still evident how these smaller concepts fit into the larger theory of evolution. Thank you.
A sincere thank to you and your colleagues for creating such a fantastic, easy-to-navigate, and organized site for teachers! Please relay my appreciation to the creators of the materials and lesson plans.
As a school board member in Salina, Kansas, I appreciate your site, which gives clear and understandable answers to some difficult questions. Keep it up.
I just encountered this website. I teach a 100-level evolution class at the university of Oregon and would be very interested in using your understanding phylogenies material in a lecture. All the graphics would be very helpful.
Thank you–great website!
I greatly appreciate and enjoy the Understanding Evolution website, which I am now using in a one semester course on evolution at Lehman High School, Bronx, NY.
Your website is wonderful! As a Christian who seeks to be a science teacher, I wish more Christians would bother to confront their issues with evolution by really learning the misconceptions they believe. I read over the misconceptions area and I loved it! Simply designed, but thorough enough to cover the big questions. Thank you, I hope to let others know about this material.
Thank you for creating this fantastic resource for teaching evolution. It will be a big bonus for my courses. It is so hard to get the outrageous amounts of evidence for evolution across to students in short periods of time, and this website is a big step in the right direction.
I plan to use it in my introductory biology course next fall and I hope to contribute to it in the future if possible.
Fantastic job! The https://evolution.berkeley.edu/ site is great. Wonderful design, wonderful architecture, great content! I appreciate that the navigation is intuative and that even the graphics load quickly on a dial-up connection.
Everyone did a fantastic job! I wish all educational sites were this good.
Hi! I am an undergrad studying biology at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX. I just wanted to fly you a quick comment about your site:
Excellent job!!!!! 🙂 I really do enjoy it! There’s lots of cool hidden humor — I especially like some of the students questions on those ‘quick quiz’ parts.
Evolution really is something that people have soooo many misconceptions about, and your site really helps clear up a bunch of those misconceptions. So thanks so much for the great site and keep up the great work!!! 🙂