E. Margaret Evans is a an Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan. Her research, which has been funded by NSF, the National Academy of Education, and the Spencer Foundation, focuses on the cognitive and cultural factors influencing the development of scientific and religious concepts (e.g., Evans, 2001). In her current studies, also funded by NSF, she investigates the emergence of developmental learning progressions for evolution as children, their parents, and other adults encounter museum exhibitions on evolution. In this work she and her colleagues have been developing informal learning experiences, such as museum exhibits (e.g., Evans et al., 2010; Tare et al., 2011) and children's books, that are founded on children's intuitive explanations of the natural world. Her studies demonstrate the success of this approach. She is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.
Most recently, Evans and her colleagues have been exploring the learning potential of touch-tables, an interactive technology in which museum visitors and students can explore the Tree of Life and other evolutionary representations dynamically. Additionally, she has been extending the theoretical underpinnings of this kind of learning, by investigating those circumstances that elicit blended Ways of Knowing. Depending on the context, individuals will shift from one explanatory stance to another, or even embrace multiple epistemologies, including creationist and evolutionary explanations. This work complicates any view of conceptual change as unidirectional, but is compatible with dual process theory, in which individuals shift between rapid intuitive thinking and more effortful reflective thinking (Evans & Lane, 2011).
The following (and other papers) are accessible on this webpage: http://www.umich.edu/~evansem/
Evans, E. M. & Lane, J. D. (2011). Contradictory or complementary? Creationist and evolutionist explanations of origins. Human Development, 54, 144-159. DOI 10.1159/000329130
Tare, M., French, J., Frazier, B., Diamond, J. & Evans, E. M. (2011). Explanatory Parent-Child Conversation Predominates at an Evolution Exhibit. Science Education, 95, 720-744. DOI 10.1002/sce.20433
Evans, E. M., Spiegel, A., Gram, W., Frazier, B. F., Tare, M., Thompson, S., & Diamond, J. (2010). A conceptual guide to natural history museum visitors' understanding of evolution. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47, 326-353. DOI 10.1002/tea.20337