Abstract Detail



Education and Outreach

Ivey, Christopher [1].

A test of the effectiveness of new laboratory exercises targeting understanding of phylogenetic analysis and trophic interactions.

A challenge of teaching is to identify methods that improve student comprehension of difficult concepts. A recent collaboration between the Botanical Society of America and the online QUBES (Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis) network aimed to test the effectiveness of selected exercises as instructional tools for general biology. Each exercise used botanical examples and emphasized quantitative skills. Based on historical assessment data, I chose two laboratory exercises to integrate into my course, which was an introductory majors’ course focused on ecology, evolution, and organismal diversity. One exercise focused on reconstructing and interpreting phylogenetic trees, and a second focused on trophic interactions and population dynamics, in the context of a simple two-species microcosm. Gains in learning during the course were assessed using a pre- vs. post-comparison of performance on validated, peer-reviewed questions drawn from published concept inventories focused on phylogenetics and ecology. A greater semester (post – pre) gain in performance following the intervention as compared with historical performance was considered to indicate that the exercises increased learning with respect to the assessed concepts. Historical assessments indicated 20-40% increase in correct responses on phylogenetic assessment questions, and a 5-30% increase in correct responses on assessment questions concerning trophic interactions and population dynamics. Comparisons of gains following the intervention with these historical patterns will be discussed, as well as the implications for effectiveness of the teaching modules included in the course.


1 - California State University, Chico, Biological Sciences, 400 W 1st St., Chico, CA, 95929, United States

Keywords:
teaching
QUBES
Phylogenetics
Trophic interactions
Science education.

Presentation Type: Poster
Number: PEO004
Abstract ID:310
Candidate for Awards:None


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