The Understanding Evolution website was built around a conceptual framework that aims to help instructors identify a sequence of age-appropriate learning goals (K-16) to guide their teaching. This framework was developed by an expert group of scientific and teacher advisors at the site’s inception.
Although the Understanding Evolution framework preceded the development of both the 2012 Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), there is a direct correlation between our framework and these two documents. In particular, two of the disciplinary core ideas in the life sciences as described within the national framework and the NGSS, LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits and LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity, are well represented in content on Understanding Evolution. However, the national documents focus on human use of and impact on biodiversity, while Understanding Evolution focuses on a more in-depth understanding of evolution. As a result, you will notice greater detail on evolutionary biology in our framework and the inclusion of additional topics, such as speciation, mutations, variation within a population, rates of evolution, and fitness, which are lacking within the national framework and NGSS. Furthermore, there is a direct correspondence between concepts included in the Nature of Science and Studying evolution sections of the Understanding Evolution conceptual framework and content from the national documents that deal with these areas — specifically, the Science and Engineering Practices and Understandings about the Nature of Science.
The teaching resources included within Understanding Evolution’s Teaching Resource Database have all been vetted and aligned with our conceptual framework and with the NGSS (where appropriate). This alignment will help instructors identify appropriate teaching tools and foster student understanding of evolutionary biology and of the nature and process of science, as required by the NGSS. To search for teaching materials that address specific NGSS standards, visit the teaching guide for your grade level: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, or Undergraduate.