I teach evolutionary biology. I implement student-centered activities in the class. To this end, I have developed, through planning and trial and error, active learning lessons that can be implemented as student centered learning experiences. Each lesson includes a brief overview, a list of content and process skills learning goals, background and a description of the activity for the instructor, reading for the students, a preparedness quiz for students focused on content, the worksheets and handouts for students, and examples of summative assessment questions. For many lessons, there is an accompanying Powerpoint (set of slides) that can be used to drive the lesson.

Active Learning Lessons

Cartoon showing activities of a typical lesson and whether they occur before, during or after the lesson and outside of class (as homework) or during class time. 

Each lesson is designed assuming students read and learn much of the content prior to class. In addition, students typically complete homework that is used in class in some manner. During class, students usually work on a case study, engage in problem solving activities, and work part of the time in small groups. After a series of lessons, students engage in self-reflection. The supplied summative assessment questions can be used to measure the learning gains of students.

I will make the lessons available to interested individuals. There are several lessons posted that provide examples of my approach and the curricular materials (indicated with the download button).

Most lessons are case studies in one form or another. There are accompanying Powerpoint slides for each lesson and two of the posted examples have both the lesson and accompanying ppt slides. If you use a lesson, either as designed or as a template for creating your own, I would appreciate feedback that can help me revise the lessons. Go to home page for the contact me information.

Every individual is unique: Introduction to phenotypic variation and heritability

Effects of mutations: Understanding the distribution of the effects of mutations

Gulping guppies: Size-specific predation of cichlids on guppies

Fish for dinner: Case study on the effects of human predation on fish populations

Sex is expensive: Model-based approach to understanding cost of sex

Crossbills and pines: Puzzle case study on coevolution

Evolution of complexity by gene duplication

The why, how and what of teaching: Making a case for active learning

Citizen scientists and natural and supernatural explanations

Quantifying and visualizing phenotypic variation of a natural population

Building bridges: Two generations of bridges using office supplies

Finding genes that matter: QTL

Finding genes that matter: Outlier analysis

Mutation is random: Individuals in populations and genes in individuals

Wolves of Isle Royale: Case study on the effects of deleterious mutations

Drift away: Understanding drift

Domestic dogs: The power of selection on segregating variation

The struggle and selection: Birth and death in a world of limited resources

Fitness: A landscape with peaks and valleys

Reproductive value

Beak of the finch: Analysis of survivors and the dead

The single locus: Deriving and using a simple model of selection

White and black mice in black and white environments

Antibiotic resistance in your neighborhood stream

Compensatory evolution: Making antibiotics obsolete. Part 1

Compensatory evolution: Making antibiotics obsolete. Part 2

Selection on sequences: Using Dn and Ds to infer the history of selection

Parasites and sex: Sex is successful in a world teeming with little things

Widowbirds: A case study of sexual selection (modified from Gibson)

Males are from mars, females are from venus: Sexually antagonistic coevolution

Snakes and newts: Geographic variation in coevolution

Origin and transmission of pathogens using phylogenetic inferences

Evolution of virulence and (sometimes) benevolence

Making trees using skulls

Inferring evolutionary history: Charting changes on a phylogeny

What is a species: An evidence puzzle

Sticklebacks: Ecological speciation in action

Snapping shrimp and pupfish: Vicariant speciation in action

Origin of life: Evidence of the first life on Earth

Origin of life: How it all began

Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA)

Origin and evolution of eukaryote

Evolution of multicellularity

Inferring evolutionary history by combining fossils and phylogeny

Evolution of multicellularity

Hot sharks and big mouths: Diversification of sharks

Spiders in paradise: Diversification and dispersal in Hawaii

Extra-terrestrial involvement: Impact events and re-setting the trajectory of life

Derived primates: Evidence of the origin and spread of humans

Cultural evolution: Variation, heritability, and selection of memes