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An active-learning lesson that targets student understanding of population growth in ecologyLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Calculate and compare population density and abundance.
- Identify whether a growth curve describes exponential, linear, and/or logistic growth.
- Describe and calculate a population's growth rate using linear, exponential, and logistic models.
- Explain the influence of carrying capacity and population density on growth rate.
Air Quality Data Mining: Mining the US EPA AirData website for student-led evaluation of air quality issuesLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Describe various parameters of air quality that can negatively impact human health, list priority air pollutants, and interpret the EPA Air Quality Index as it relates to human health.
- Identify an air quality problem that varies on spatial and/or temporal scales that can be addressed using publicly available U.S. EPA air data.
- Collect appropriate U.S. EPA Airdata information needed to answer that/those questions, using the U.S. EPA Airdata website data mining tools.
- Analyze the data as needed to address or answer their question(s).
- Interpret data and draw conclusions regarding air quality levels and/or impacts on human and public health.
- Communicate results in the form of a scientific paper.
Coevolution or not? Crossbills, squirrels and pineconesLearning Objectives
- Define coevolution.
- Identify types of evidence that would help determine whether two species are currently in a coevolutionary relationship.
- Interpret graphs.
- Evaluate evidence about whether two species are coevolving and use evidence to make a scientific argument.
- Describe what evidence of a coevolutionary relationship might look like.
- Distinguish between coadaptation and coevolution.
In-class peer grading of daily quizzes increases feedback opportunitiesLearning ObjectivesEach of these objectives are illustrated with a succinct slide presentation or other supplemental material available ahead of class time through the course administration system. Learners found it particularly helpful to have video clips that remind them of mathematical manipulations available (in the above example objective c). Students understand that foundational objectives tend to be the focus of the quiz (objectives a-d) and that others will be given more time to work on together in class (objectives e-g), but I don't specify this exactly to reduce temptation that 'gamers' take a shortcut that would impact their group work negatively later on. However, the assignment for a focused graded group activity is posted as well, so it is clear what we are working towards; if desired individuals could prepare ahead of the class.
CURE-all: Large Scale Implementation of Authentic DNA Barcoding Research into First-Year Biology CurriculumLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to: Week 1-4: Fundamentals of Science and Biology
- List the major processes involved in scientific discovery
- List the different types of scientific studies and which types can establish causation
- Design experiments with appropriate controls
- Create and evaluate phylogenetic trees
- Define taxonomy and phylogeny and explain their relationship to each other
- Explain DNA sequence divergence and how it applies to evolutionary relationships and DNA barcoding
- Define and measure biodiversity and explain its importance
- Catalog organisms using the morphospecies concept
- Geographically map organisms using smartphones and an online mapping program
- Calculate metrics of species diversity using spreadsheet software
- Use spreadsheet software to quantify and graph biodiversity at forest edges vs. interiors
- Write a formal lab report
- Extract, amplify, visualize and sequence DNA using standard molecular techniques (PCR, gel electrophoresis, Sanger sequencing)
- Explain how DNA extraction, PCR, gel electrophoresis, and Sanger sequencing work at the molecular level
- Trim and assemble raw DNA sequence data
- Taxonomically identify DNA sequences isolated from unknown organisms using BLAST
- Visualize sequence data relationships using sequence alignments and gene-based phylogenetic trees
- Map and report data in a publicly available online database
- Share data in a formal scientific poster
A flexible, multi-week approach to plant biology - How will plants respond to higher levels of CO2?Learning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Apply findings from each week's lesson to make predictions and informed hypotheses about the next week's lesson.
- Keep a detailed laboratory notebook.
- Write and peer-edit the sections of a scientific paper, and collaboratively write an entire lab report in the form of a scientific research paper.
- Search for, find, and read scientific research papers.
- Work together as a team to conduct experiments.
- Connect findings and ideas from each week's lesson to get a broader understanding of how plants will respond to higher levels of CO2 (e.g., stomatal density, photosynthetic/respiratory rates, foliar protein concentrations, growth, and resource allocation).
Modeling the Research Process: Authentic human physiology research in a large non-majors courseLearning ObjectivesStudents will be able to:
- Read current scientific literature
- Formulate testable hypotheses
- Design an experimental procedure to test their hypothesis
- Make scientific observations
- Analyze and interpret data
- Communicate results visually and orally