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Jason Cryan, Ph.D. Laboratory for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics. Evolution Tests:. Teaching Tools and Evaluations of Learning. What are quizzes, tests, & exams for, anyway!?. Tests help evaluate student learning.

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Evolution tests

Jason Cryan, Ph.D.

Laboratory for Conservation

and Evolutionary Genetics

Evolution Tests:

Teaching Tools

and

Evaluations of Learning


Evolution tests

What are quizzes, tests,

& exams for, anyway!?

  • Tests help evaluate student learning

2.Tests help evaluate how successfully you are presenting the material

3.Tests, if well-designed, can motivate students

4.Tests can reinforce learning by providing students with indicators of what topics or skills they have not yet mastered and should concentrate on


Evolution tests

Formats

  • Objective questions assess mastery of details

  • Multiple Choice:

    • Pros: can measure simple knowledge and complex concepts; can be easily and reliably scored

    • Cons: good multiple-choice questions are difficult to write

  • True or False:

    • Pros: easily scored; can add “explain” requirement

    • Cons: random guessing gives 50% chance for correct answer

  • Matching:

    • Pros: effective way to test recognition of relationships between words and definitions, events and dates, etc.

    • Cons: elimination of possibilities allows ‘false positives’

  • 2. Short Answer questions assess both specific knowledge and [limited] application/synthesis abilities

    • Pros: easier to write than multiple choice!

    • Cons: more time consuming to grade

  • 3. Essay questions assess comprehension, the ability to integrate and synthesize, and the ability to apply information to new situations

    • Pros: Allows more detailed evaluation of performance

    • Cons: time consuming to grade, and grading subject to subjectivity; length of these questions limits the number of topics covered by test/exam


Evolution tests

Testing only Memorization?

  • Know what you want to test for

  • Knowledge: Define, Describe, Identify, Label, List, Match, Name, Outline, Reproduce, Select, State

  • Comprehension & Application: Convert, Defend, Distinguish, Estimate, Explain, Extend, Generalize, Give examples, Infer, Predict, Summarize, Demonstrate, Modify, Operate, Prepare, Produce, Relate, Show, Solve, Use

  • Problem Solving: [Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation]

    Diagram, Differentiate, Distinguish, Illustrate, Infer, Point out, Relate, Select, Separate, Subdivide, Categorize, Combine, Compile, Devise, Design, Explain, Generate, Organize, Plan, Rearrange, Reconstruct, Revise, Tell, Appraise, Compare, Conclude, Contrast, Criticize, Describe, Discriminate, Explain, Justify, Interpret, Support


Evolution tests

Alternative Testing Methods

  • Take-Home Tests:

    • Pros: allow students to work at their own pace; allows for more detailed questions without sacrificing class time

    • Cons: easy to design an overly-difficult TH exam!

  • Open-Book Tests:

    • Pros: simulates real-world situations

    • Cons: inappropriate for evaluation of detail mastery; reduces students’ motivation to study

  • Group Tests:

    • Pros: opportunity for peer-teaching; group performance tends to be higher than individual performance

    • Cons: allows weaker students to rely on stronger students

  • Paired Tests:

    • Pros: strong opportunity for peer-teaching

    • Cons: may not be a positive experience for stronger students


Evolution tests

1. The Pre-Test that “Doesn’t Count”

  • Give to students as “pop-quiz”…no studying!

  • No names….make up a ‘secret code’

  • After done, collect papers and randomly redistribute them

  • Discuss each question; students ‘correct’ the paper they have

    • For each question, ask if there are any incorrect answers; keep track of these!

  • Have students put all papers in a pile

  • Allow students to find and keep their paper


Evolution tests

Secret Codes: An “Interesting” Social Experiment…

Tigerpride

Wonder Woman

Sneaky

Gemini

I Hate True False

The Cap

007 (multiple of you)

North American Hairless Teacher


Evolution tests

T F 1. Mammals and Dinosaurs existed together

T F 2. Humans and Dinosaurs existed together

T F 3. The appendix is often considered a ‘vestigial’ structure

T F 4. Some regions of DNA are considered vestigial

T F 5. The Earth is ~4.6 billion years old

T F 6. Natural Selection is a force that acts on species

T F 7. Natural Selection is a force that acts on populations

T F 8. Natural Selection is a force that acts on individuals

T F 9. Charles Darwin was the first person to propose the idea of Evolution

T F 10. Charles Darwin was the only person to propose the idea of Natural Selection

T F 11. Evolution is a slow process

T F 12. Evolution is a theory

T F 13. Natural Selection is the only process by which organisms evolve

T F 14. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny

T F 15. Small genetic changes can result in large anatomical or physiological changes


Evolution tests

16. All the organisms shown here belong to the Phylum Chordata.

The structural similarity in the organisms suggests that--

  • the humerus is the same size in all chordates

  • chordates have a common ancestor

  • only animals that walk on 4 legs need the humerus

  • the humerus is attached to the skeleton by immovable joints

17. What is the best ‘evolutionary’ definition of the term “adapt”?

  • a physiological adjustment, allowing an individual to function better in a new environment

  • a behavioral adjustment, allowing an individual to function better in a new environment

  • an anatomical adjustment in an individual, allowing it to function better in a new environment

  • the anatomical, physiological, and/or behavioral change in a population of organisms from one generation to the next in response to a new environmental pressure


Evolution tests

18. Given your answer to question #12, above, do organisms try to adapt to their environment?

  • Yes, if the environment changes, organisms try to adapt to their environment

  • No, organisms cannot adapt to a changing environment

  • Organisms cannot ‘try’ to adapt; rather, variations existing in the population of organisms make some individuals better able to survive and reproduce than others in a changing environment

  • The environment never changes significantly, so there is no need to adapt

19. Is evolution a historical process?

  • Yes…evolution happened only in the past, resulting in the animals and plants alive today

  • No…evolution is a process that has occurred not only throughout the history of life, but also continues to occur today; organisms alive now are still evolving

20. The goal of evolution is perfection in organismal form and function.

  • No…the process of evolution works to increase the fitness of an organism in its environment; the resulting structures and behaviors may function quite well, but are likely not perfect

  • Yes….organisms alive today are the pinnacle of evolutionary perfection; we are the most highly evolved beings the world has ever seen


Evolution tests

2. Using Humor in Evolution Education

(and Testing)

A. Cartoons: a fantastic resource for both classroom discussions and test questions

B. Silliness: funny words/phrases can grab attention, stimulate students

Question: Briefly (but with detail) explain why, although funny, the cartoon shown is not scientifically accurate.

Question: You are a graduate student studying the evolution of the Teal-Winged Insectivorous Toucan (better known as the “TWIT”). The goal of your thesis is to use an Amazonian population of this charismatic bird to demonstrate the four basic principals of evolution by natural selection. So, you venture out into the rainforest for a few years to observe TWITs in their natural habitat. During your TWIT fieldwork, you record the following TWIT data…….

Answer: Evolutionary adaptation does not occur based on need. Variation must exist in the population for phenotypes that become advantageous with a change in the environment.

No-eared Rat-Dog: the NERD

Darwin’s Insectivorous, Nocturnal Kangaroo: the DINK

Darwin’s Orange Reticulated Kookaburra: the DORK


Evolution tests

But, Use Good Judgment….

  • Be careful to not let your use of humor become a source of distraction….humor in the classroom should facilitate learning

  • Be sensitive….don’t use humor that might be insulting to students

    • Avoid sarcasm or negativity

  • Be careful to use humor effectively…don’t allow the ‘wrong’ message to get through


Evolution tests

Discussion:

Common Ancestry

Tree of Life


Evolution tests

1% Divergence

Discussion:

Phylogeny vs. Genealogy

Common Ancestry


Evolution tests

Discussion:

Adaptation

Pre-Adaptation

Environmental Change

Extinction

Common Ancestry (mammals, dinos/birds)


Evolution tests

Discussion:

Biodiversity

Adaptation


Evolution tests

Discussion:

“Survival of the Fittest” vs. Fitness


Evolution tests

Am I a Neanderthal?

(from Weller, 1985)

Good Question! As you know, Neanderthal man may have interbred with modern man. His descendants are with us even today, passing for full-blooded Homo sapiens. If you suspect a “touch of the old hand ax” in your ancestry, score yourself on this test:

  • Do your eyebrows meet in the middle? If so, give yourself five points.

  • Can you lock your knees in an upright position? If not, take five points.

  • Got a chin? If the answer is no, add three points.

  • How about a forehead? If not, add another three points.

  • Is it easy for you to balance a book on your head? Then give yourself five points.

  • Do you ever open Coke bottles with your teeth? If you do, add ten points.

  • Are you frequently more comfortable squatting on your heels than sitting in a chair? Take five points.

  • Is your head attached vertically to your neck? If not, add one point for every five degrees of slope.

  • Less than five feet tall? Add one point for every inch under.

  • If your lower arm is shorter than your upper arm, add one point for every inch of difference.

  • Ditto for you lower and upper legs.

  • Pigeon-toed? Five points.

  • Have you ever felt like bashing a postal clerk with a club? You’re normal – no points.

  • Is the space between your big toe and your other toes big enough to hold an apple? Add five points.

  • Do you regularly eat apples this way? Add fifteen points.

  • Do people think you’re wearing your hair in a bun when you’re not? Give yourself ten points.

  • Can you count your vertebrae while wearing two sweaters and an overcoat? Take five more points.

  • Is your nickname “Duke,” “Butch,” or “Animal?” Three points.

SCORING:

0-20 points: You are a virtually pure Homo sapiens. Feel free to build bridges, compose symphonies, and overrun the world.

20-40 points: A slight Neanderthal strain means that you will occasionally have spells of primitive behavior, crawling around on all fours and whooping wildly. If you live in California, no one will notice.

40-60 points: You can still function quite well in the modern world, but avoid eating in any fancy restaurants lest your table manners give you away.

60-80 points: Your Pleistocene heritage is predominant. You should consider a career in pro football.

80-100 points: Unfortunately, your genetic makeup is Grunt City; there is no place for you in human society. Try running for public office instead.


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