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Game-based teaching of ToE Effect of game-based teaching of the theory of evolution in initial teacher training


02/10/2023 02/04/2025


Teaching biological evolution

Education level involved

Primary school


PCK Model, biological evolution, teachers training, game

Discover the project in 180 seconds

The game-based teaching of ToE project aims to investigate how do pedagogies of enactment and inquiry (Grossman, Compton, Igra, Ronfeldt, Shahan, & Williamson, 2009 ; Jackson & Cobb, 2013) support and impact pre-service teachers, in developing their practice and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) (Carlson & Daehler, 2018) to teach evolution. Well-defined game mechanics and an appropriate game story could provide a meaningful context for teaching biological evolution and the random processes associated. The game is therefore considered as an artifact which can contain some implicit knowledge about chance and random processes. This artifact is proposed for its potential to support the work of teachers to turn this implicit knowledge into an explicit knowledge and help students develop evolutionary thinking.

Project context

Game-based learning is a popular approach to offer the opportunity to support student engagement and motivation (Aprea & Ifenthaler, 2021). However, the integration of such approaches in regular teaching practices requires combining three essential components: professional development that supports teachers in implementing game-based learning in the classroom, games that are designed to address specific content knowledge (Sanchez & Prieur, 2009), and teaching scenarios that adequately integrate the game in a learning progression. The Theory of Evolution (ToE) is complex and is a teaching challenge to understand biodiversity. The ToE is still controversial today when debates are situated between a scientific sphere and a private sphere. In some cases, beliefs or naïve views of evolution may hinder learning about the ToE and the random processes associated (Shtulman, 2006). Randomness is considered a threshold concept to an understanding of the ToE (Fiedler, Sbeglia, Nehm & Harms, 2019). It is therefore essential to strengthen joint knowledge in biology and mathematics with greater collaboration between statistical and biological educators to make real progress in teaching the ToE (Ibid.).

Project objectives

The Game-based teaching of ToE project aims to raise teachers and future teachers’ skills in teaching evolution in different cultures in Europe, to develop innovative teaching practices within teachers in Europe and to support the emergence of new representations of the field of possibilities opening when using a game in the classroom.

Methodological perspective

РStudy in an ecological situation in the initial training of around sixty future teacher students with implementation of teaching scenarios designed using a collaborative approach between teachers in pre-service from Aix-Marseille Universit̩ and the Universit̩ Libre de Bruxelles.

– a first series of measurements with a pre-test-post-test method for both groups of students, based on a closed questionnaire with items relating to acceptance and understanding of biological evolution and chance

– A second series of measures based on open-ended questionnaires and/or observations of the evolution over time of PCK (chance, etc.) and practice.

Comparaison the results using multivariate analyses of the two groups in order to analyze the effect of professional development at the two universities.

Last events

  • Joint event of game sessions and virtual exchanges between student teachers and teachers after a presentation of the game Darwinium at ULB
  • Collaborative design of teaching scenarios using a game-based approach

Project leaders

  • COUPAUD Magali (Aix-Marseille Université)

  • DELHAYE Coralie (Université Libre de Bruxelles


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