Foundations of Evolution


Name: David Baum
SCID: College of Letters & Science
Department: Botany
Course Name: Foundations of EvolutionCourse Objectives:

  • CO1: Acquire an accurate understanding of the mechanisms that explain how the diversity of living species came to be, each species being well (though not perfectly) adapted to their current way of life.
    • Phylogenetics: Be able to use phylogenetic concepts to make sense of the origin of new lineages and the distribution of biological traits among living and extinct organisms.
    • Mechanisms of Evolution: Be able to articulate the roles of mutation, drift, and selection (both individual and group level) in explaining how the traits of lineages can change over time.
    • History of life on Earth: Be able to apply knowledge of mechanisms of evolution and phylogenetics to interpret the evolutionary history of life on earth.
  • CO2: Be able to use evolutionary principles to organize knowledge of across the biological sciences (integrate)
  • CO3: Be able to develop reasonable evolutionary hypotheses and recognize the kinds of data and approaches needed to test these hypotheses (application)
  • CO4: Gain greater interest in the natural world and better appreciate humanity’s place in that world (value)

Course Units:

  • CU1: Phylogenetics
  • CU2: Mechanisms of evolution
  • CU3: History of life on Earth

Unit Objectives:

  • UO1: Be able to use a frequency-through-time plot to describe and interpret genetic drift and individual level natural selection
  • UO2: Be able to develop a reasonable narrative to explain the evolutionary origin of a complex trait, drawing, as appropriate, on genetic drift, directional natural selection, group selection, changing environments, and/or exaptation
  • UO3:  Be able to use quantitative genetic data to predict how a population will or will not respond to directional natural selection

Activity One

Description:Narrated slide show on frequency through time plots and how they summarize genetic variation in populations and how, therefore, they depict evolutionModality: Online
Activity Sequence: Preclass
Required Knowledge: Basic genetics terminology (gene, allele, phenotype, genotype); The concept of “frequency”
Time on Task: 30 min
Objectives Supported: UO1
Horton Type: Absorb
Bloom’s Level: Understand
Evidence: Pre-lecture quiz to make sure they understand the plots. Post-lecture quiz involving interpretation of FTT plots
Pedagogical Role: Make the slide show focus on the basics so that they come to class ready to ready and use FTTs
Social Role: Maybe encourage students to watch in groups?
Managerial Role: Send reminders; set-up Canvas to make it easy to find and do.
Technical Role: Make a nice narrated slide show in Captivate. Provide a FAQ on watching a video in Canvas?

Activity Two

Description:Active lecture on evolution, genetic drift, and natural selectionModality: In person
Activity Sequence: In class
Required Knowledg: Definition of evolution; Interpretation of an FTT plot
Time on Task: 50 min
Objectives Supported: UO1
Horton Type: Absorb/Do
Bloom’s Level: Know/Analyze
Evidence: Answering TopHat questions during lecture
Pedagogical Role: Ask TopHat questions at start to check they know the concept of evolution and can interpret an FTT plot. Intersperse TopHat questions involving the interpretation of FTT plots in terms of genetic drift & selection.
Social Role: Encourage questions and discussion among students after TopHat questions. Thank students for talking in class.
Managerial Role: Give points for participation and correctness in TopHat to incentivize attendance and engagement.
Technical Role: Be sure PPT, lecture capture, & TopHat are working.

Activity Three

Description:Exploration of the Red Lynx online population genetic simulator to evaluate the interaction between population size and selectionModality: Online
Activity Sequence: Post-lecture/pre-discussion
Required Knowledge: Genetic drift and directional selection as mechanisms of evolution.
Time on Task: 30 min
Objectives Supported: UO1
Horton Type: Do
Bloom’s Level: Analyze
Evidence: Answering questions harder midterm-like questions built into the assignment
Pedagogical Role: Needs to flow from the lecture content and motivate
Social Role: Encourage students to work alongside their peers.
Managerial Role: Tell students at end of lecture and remind them by email.
Technical Role: Provide students with a document on how to run Red Lynx.

Activity Four

Description:Case study on an endangered species management plan drawing on the concepts of selection and genetic drift and using Red Lynx to explore some scenarios.Modality: In person
Activity Sequence: In class (discussion)
Required Knowledge: Concepts of selection and drift. Comfort with Red Lynx.
Time on Task: 50 min
Objectives Supported: UO1
Horton Type: Connect
Bloom’s Level: Analyze
Evidence: Teams will write a brief report.
Pedagogical Role: Make sure TAs understand the learning outcomes. Encourage them to communicate the value of the activity as a way to make connection and apply their understanding.
Social Role: TA to create groups deliberately. Maybe assign roles.
Managerial Role: Communicate expectations to TAs
Technical Role: Make sure TA understands how to run Red Lynx.

Activity Five

Description:Quiz testing student’s ability to interpret FTT plots, including examples of drift and selection in relation to conservation of endangered species, the explanation of genetic disease frequency in humans, and how changing environments influence evolutionary dynamics.Modality: Online
Activity Sequence: Post-class
Required Knowledge: Outcomes related to the concept of evolution, genetic drift, role of population size, mutation, and environment.
Time on Task: 30 min.
Objectives Supported: UO1
Horton Type: Do/Connect
Bloom’s Level: Analyze/Evaluate
Evidence: Score on quiz
Pedagogical Role: All questions should be parallel to questions already seen by the students.
Social Role: –
Managerial Role: Instruct students to do this independently. Remind students by email.
Technical Role: Point them to FAQs on Canvas quizzes

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