This study addresses the need for research in three areas: (1) teachers' understandings of scientific inquiry; (2) conceptual understandings of evolutionary processes; and (3) technology-enhanced instruction using an inquiry approach. The purpose of this study was to determine in what ways The Galapagos Finches software-based materials created a context for learning and teaching about the nature of scientific knowledge and evolutionary concepts. The research used a design experiment in which researchers significantly modified a secondary science methods course. The multiple data sources included: audiotaped conversations of two focus pairs of participants as they interacted with the software; written pre- and posttests on concepts of natural selection of the 21 prospective teachers; written pre- and posttests on views of the nature of science; three e-mail journal questions; and videotaped class discussions. Findings indicate that prospective teachers initially demonstrated alternative understandings of evolutionary concepts; there were uninformed understandings of the nature of scientific inquiry; there was little correlation between understandings and disciplines; and even the prospective teachers with research experience failed to understand the diverse methods used by scientists. Following the module there was evidence of enhanced understandings through metacognition, and the potential for interactive software to provide promising context for enhancing content understandings.
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