Darwin and the Galapagos Islands
Mitchell W. Colgan
College of Charleston
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
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This page first made public: Jul 9, 2008
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In this assignment the students read the Chapter 17 "Galapagos
Archipelago" from The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin, and they
examine a website about the Galapagos Islands. The students answer two
questions that link Darwin's observation on the Galapagos with his
theory of evolution described in the Origin of Species.
This is the second course in a general education geology sequence.
Nearly all the students are non-science majors.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
The students have studied Darwin's theory of evolution as presented in
the Origin of Species (1st edition). They have also studied the
Galapagos Island geology and biology.
How the activity is situated in the course
This is the first assignment that the honor students have in their History of Life class.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Within Chapter 17, "Galapagos Archipelago," from The Voyage of the
Beagle, Darwin describes many observations that are at the core of
natural selection. The students read chapter 17 and find those
observations that support Darwin's theory of "descent with
modification" that is described in his book the Origin of Species.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
The students need to evaluate a large number of observations that Darwin made on the Galapagos Islands against the conclusions that he made 24 years later in the On the Origin of Species.
Other skills goals for this activity
Writing a concise summary.
Description of the activity/assignment
To prepare for this assignment, the students read the Chapter 17
"Galapagos Archipelago" from The Voyage of the Beagle. In class we have
discussed Darwin's theory of evolution as outlined in the first edition
of the Origin of Species. The students need to examine Chapter 17 to
find those observations that Darwin made in 1835 that support the his
theory of evolution that was published 24 years later in 1859.
Determining whether students have met the goals
The papers are evaluated to assess each student's understanding of the
influences that Darwin's observation of the geology and biology of the
Galapagos had on his formulation of his theory of evolution. Also,
writing quality is evaluated.More information about assessment tools and techniques.
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