According to Gale Sinatra and her colleagues, one of the first things that needs to happen for conceptual change to occur is that we become dissatisfied with our current view of the world, and begin actively seeking an alternative. In this respect, it may be that some of the ways we teach evolution make it unlikely that we will ever feel this dissatisfaction.
To begin, evolutionary theory is given very little time in the classroom, if it is covered at all. According to research by Sarah Brem and her colleagues, teachers frequently avoid spending the allotted time on evolution, flying through the material in the hopes of reducing the number of complaints they receive from parents and students who feel that these ideas threaten their basic belief system. Teachers who usually encourage students to engage in active learning become strict lecturers who take no questions, but insist that students simply listen and take notes. Their fears create a classroom environment in which it would be very unlikely that a student would have the time and encouragement to seriously rethink their folk theories and identify where these theories leave them wanting more.
In addition, well-intentioned curriculum developers and teachers may use explanations and representations of evolution that feed into folk theories, again precluding the possibility of finding the holes in these theories. Contributors such as Kefyn Catley, Laura Novick, David Uttal, and others show us how the diagrams, models, and other representations used by textbook and curriculum designers are often misleading. They are readily understood by scientists, but can actually be seen as supporting, rather than refuting, our folk theories.
Fortunately, however, with greater understanding of how previous ways of teaching evolution may have fallen short, promising new approaches are emerging. For example, Clark Chinn and his colleagues are designing a model-based approach to teaching evolution, calling upon students to engage in authentic scientific inquiry to better understand how "doing science" is different from relying on folk theories, and giving students some freedom and flexibility in how they come to understand evolution. The autonomy this affords is likely to increase their engagement in finding an alternative to their personal theories, according to conceptual change research, and gives them the opportunity to make their own argument for evolution, which is likely to lead to stronger endorsement and greater buy-in.
Other scientists are developing better assessments of students' knowledge and acceptance of evolution, and using them on an international scale (Louis Nadelson and Sherry Southerland), Still others are providing web-based assistance to teachers, providing specific information and activities that educators can use to facilitate the conceptual change process (Judy Scotchmoor and Anna Thanukos), and museum exhibitions that provide entertaining and insightful examples of phenomena that are better explained by evolution than folk theories of biology (Judy Diamond, Martin Weiss, Margaret Evans).