www.monash.edu.au Monash Peer Assisted Learning Projects Using peer-assisted learning (PAL) to enhance student understanding of the threshold concept of evolution. Gerry Rayner School of Biological Sciences
www.monash.edu.au 2 Background Monash University Teaching and Learning Fellowships First awarded 2010 In the area of Peer Assisted Teaching and Learning Open to any Monash staff member Up to $30K budget Implement a PAL activity and research its effects PVC Prof. Marnie Hughes-Warrington
www.monash.edu.au 3 Rhetorical question Is science education letting our students down? e.g. While scientific consensus supporting modern evolutionary synthesis is nearly absolute..
www.monash.edu.au 4 Acceptance of evolution scientific consensus supporting modern evolutionary synthesis nearly absolute
www.monash.edu.au 5 Australia? 2009 Nielsen poll 25% of Australians believe "the biblical account of human origins" over Darwinian evolution. Only 42% believe in a wholly scientific explanation for the origins of life 32% believe in an evolutionary process guided by God bet hedging?
www.monash.edu.au 6 PAL foundations and context PAL consistently shown to promote generic skills (e.g. McMaster et al. 2006) and enhance deeper learning across a range of disciplines (Springer et al. 1999; Kieran and ONeill 2009). Aligns with Vygotskys Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) - more capable peers collaborate on concepts, knowledge, skills enhance understanding of broader group and refine their own!
www.monash.edu.au 7 Project rationale Understanding evolution transforms the way students observe biology requires sophisticated integration of knowledge Project aims 1.Student perspectives and understanding of evolution (large cohort & broad diversity) 2.Integrate evolution readings with lectures & practicals scaffold PAL to refine, enhance student understanding 3.Evaluate student perceptions of effectiveness and value of PAL in this context Provides a conceptual framework that unifies every disparate aspect of the life sciences into a single coherent discipline(NatAcadSci 2008)
www.monash.edu.au 8 PAL context Focus on lectures and practicals (6 weeks) associated with aspects of evolution: 1. Plant diversity and evolution 2. Animal diversity and evolution 3. Ecology and evolutionary biology 4. Evolution history and mechanisms
www.monash.edu.au 9 PAL timeline of activities Lectures Practicals Plant diversity & evolution. Endosymbiosis, protists, evolution and radiation of land plants Plant diversity / evolution 1. Paired PAL Animal diversity & evolution. Principles and patterns of animal evolution Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10Week 11 Week 12 Ecology and evolutionary biology Evolution, evolutionary research, mechanisms PAL activities
www.monash.edu.au 10 1. Paired PAL - plant evolution (Wk 9) With your lab partner, discuss the following questions about plant evolution and diversity 1. Briefly summarize your present understanding of evolution. 2. Present four major steps in the evolution of land plants, from bryophytes through to angiosperms. 3. What aspects of plant evolution do you find puzzling or problematic? 4. What questions about plant evolution remain unanswered? 5. What are the three most important things about plant evolution that you would tell someone?
www.monash.edu.au 11 PAL timeline of activities Lectures Practicals Plant diversity & evolution. Endosymbiosis, protists, evolution and radiation of land plants Plant diversity / evolution 1. Paired PAL Animal diversity & evolution. Principles and patterns of animal evolution Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10Week 11 Week 12 Ecology and evolutionary biology Evolution, evolutionary research, mechanisms Animal diversity / evolution 2. Quad PAL 3. Survey value of PAL, comparative value of paired vs. quad PAL. PAL activities
www.monash.edu.au 12 2. Quad PAL task - animal evolution (Wk 10) Form a quad group and discuss the following questions about animal evolution and diversity 1. How would you describe evolution? 2. Provide a brief explanation of animal evolution. 3. Are there aspects of animal evolution that you find puzzling or problematic? 4. What are the three most important things about plant evolution that you would tell someone?
www.monash.edu.au 13 Post Quad PAL survey (Week 10) To what extent do you agree with the following statements? 1. Discussions with my lab partner(s) improved my understanding of plant (animal) evolution 2. Quad group discussions were more beneficial to my understanding of evolution than with my lab partner.
www.monash.edu.au 14 Perspectives on PAL (week 10) Discussions in a pair / quad improved my understanding of:
www.monash.edu.au 15 Increased diversity and sophistication of evolution language and terminology Week 9Week 10 Adaptation Complexity Transition Descent with modification Natural selection Mutation Increasing complexity Common ancestor Random processes Population biology Convergence Divergence Bottlenecks
www.monash.edu.au 16 Comparative value of paired vs. quad PAL Mean = 4.05
www.monash.edu.au 17 PAL timeline of activities Lectures Practicals Plant diversity & evolution. Endosymbiosis, protists, evolution and radiation of land plants Plant diversity / evolution 1. Paired PAL Animal diversity & evolution. Principles and patterns of animal evolution Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10Week 11 Week 12 Ecology and evolutionary biology Evolution, evolutionary research, mechanisms Animal diversity / evolution 2. Quad PAL 3. Survey value of PAL, comparative value of paired vs. quad PAL. PAL activities 4. Quad PAL on a specific evolution question. 5. Development and submission of digital response. 6. Assessment - tutors & peers. 7. Comprehensive survey
www.monash.edu.au 18 5. Quad PAL project (Week 12) Group discussion, concept-mapping etc. of an evolution-related question. Evolution / radiation of terrestrial plants Adaptations / evolution of terrestrial insects Evolutionary significance of mesoderm in multicellular animals Evolutionary implications of endoskeletons vs exoskeletons Allopatric speciation - processes and mechanisms
www.monash.edu.au 19 5. Quad PAL project (Wk 12) Quad used prior knowledge, discussion and online resources (+ rubric), to develop a digital response (i.e. a 1 slide ppt). Quad uploaded their digital response as an attachment to a Blackboard Discussion posting - marked by tutor (grading form) - rated by other students
www.monash.edu.au 20 6. Assessment rubric for digital response CriterionPerformance Indicators Needs ImprovementMeets ExpectationsGoodExceptional Required elements (1 point) Several required elements were missing. (2 points) All but 1 of the required elements are included on the poster. (3 points) All required elements are included on the poster. (4 points) The poster includes all required elements as well as additional information. Labels (1 point) Labels are too small to view OR no important items were labelled. (2 points) Many items of importance on the poster are clearly labelled with labels that are a suitable size (3 points) Almost all items of importance on the poster are clearly labelled with labels that are a suitable size. (4 points) All items of importance on the poster are clearly labelled with labels that are a suitable size Graphics - relevance (1 point) Graphics do not relate to the topic OR several borrowed graphics do not have a source note. (2 points) All graphics relate to the topic. One or two borrowed graphics have a sources noted. (3 points) All graphics are related to the topic and most make it easier to understand. Some graphics have a note about their source. (4 points) All graphics are related to the topic and make it easier to understand. All borrowed graphics have a note about their source. Aesthetics / attractiveness (1 point) The poster is distractingly messy or very poorly designed. It is not attractive. (2 points) The poster is acceptably attractive though it may be a bit messy. (3 points) The poster is reasonably attractive in at least 2 of design, layout, or neatness. (4 points) The poster is exceptionally attractive in terms of design, layout, and neatness Grammar (1 point) There are more than 4 grammatical or spelling mistakes on the poster. (2 points) There are 3-4 grammatical/spelling mistakes on the poster. (3 points) There are 1-2 grammatical/spelling mistakes on the poster. (4 points) There are no grammatical/spelling mistakes on the poster.
www.monash.edu.au 21 Species wide - shows divide In Allopatric speciation, gene flow is interrupted when a population is divided into geographically isolated sub populations. Post ice-age recolonisation of Chorthippus parallelus Case study: Meadow grasshopper Name: Chorthipippus Parallelus Species isolated in pockets during Ice Age Repopulated after the Ice Age across Europe Field studies indicate hybridisation between remanent populations Divergence established via DNA tests and measuring the follicle length Allopatry in 3 steps: 1. Daughter population must form i.e. must be separated in some degree 2. Daughter population must exist in this separated state in order to become a discrete new species 3. Daughter population must become differentiated from the parent population i.e. they do not mate with them
23 ALLOPATRIC SPECIATION Allopatric speciation occurs when the gene flow of a population is interrupted due to geographic isolation, resulting in the formation of a new species. Allopatric speciation is known to have occurred in Cercopithecinae Monkeys (subfamily of Old World Monkeys) in Africa. Contraction and expansion of African rainforest was the main driving force for the Allopatric speciation The Congo and Sanaga Rivers also played a role in the geographical isolation and speciation of these monkeys. Geographical Barriers separate species and therefore the gene flow is interrupted Different mutations and natural selection occur in separated populations Genetic drift also occurs, this alters Allele frequencies Reproductive isolation may then take place, as a result of genetic drift or natural selection, causing the populations to diverge genetically. Overall the processes and mechanisms involved in Allopatric speciation results in new species being formed. Guenons Monkey Allens Swamp Monkey
www.monash.edu.au 24 6. Peer ratings Student names here
www.monash.edu.au 25 7. Post-PAL Survey (Week 12 ) To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements? Content- & skills- development questions This group poster project enhanced my understanding of the processes and mechanisms of relevant evolution question This poster project helped me develop skills that I would not have learned from lectures and practicals only I developed more interest in the poster project than I expected
www.monash.edu.au 26 7. Post-PAL Survey (Week 12 ) Team dynamics & assessment-related questions Working in a group was an effective learning experience This poster project helped me to interact more effectively with group members I am happy for our group presentation to be rated by other students The workload was appropriate for this group project. The assessment requirements for the group project were clear. We had access to the sufficient resources to complete the project. What improvements would you suggest?
www.monash.edu.au 27 The value of the group (week 12) Median = 4.0
www.monash.edu.au 28 More equivocal about other skills Take-home message KISS
www.monash.edu.au 29 Effect of question on perceived value of PAL Choose the question carefully! Take-home message CTQC
www.monash.edu.au 30 Student comments It was very interactive and a good change from the sometimes stressful normal practicals, so I dont think there needs to be any improvement Being able to present the poster to the class It was good, I enjoyed the lab and it was a good end to the semester :) I thought the exercise was great. Evolution isnt exactly tough to get your head around. At this busy time of year with so many other things to do, it was lovely to just do some light hearted, easy work with the social aspect of a group activity to close off a long semester. Thanks
www.monash.edu.au 31 Student comments - suggestions Smaller groups sizes please Smaller groups to allow each member to participate and learn Maybe giving the question for research prior to the tutorial for further development and research Discussion of posters, or presentation of posters at the end of lab
www.monash.edu.au 32 In Summary 1.Value of PAL group size, but. 2.Care required in question choice and wording 3.Dont be too ambitious e.g. other skills 4.Digital response - opportunities for creativity and visual expression of knowledge and understanding 5.Further info required on value of online ratings 6.Enormous potential for PAL- have recently implemented PAL in BIO1022 around feeding and nutrition.
www.monash.edu.au 33 Acknowledgements Office of the PVC Drs Juliey Beckman and Tricia Wevill The first year students Questions?