This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process.
This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Jun 4, 2009
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Additionally, they have had some background information on the definition of several terms: hypothesis, theory, test, prediction, etc.
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
> understanding the limitations of the fossil record
> exploring different viewpoints
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
evidence from interpretation. They need to recognize the various hypotheses presented and also evaluate the strength of these ideas. Then during classroom discussion, they explore the implications of their dissections. For example they would address some of the following questions: Are other interpretations possible? Where have the authors over interpreted the evidence? What are the strongest interpretations? How could the ideas be further tested?
What type of evidence would be sufficient to falsify or further support the interpretations
of the papers?
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment:Student handout for Paper Dissection (Microsoft Word 22kB May16 09)
- Instructors Notes:
NOTE: A presentation on this exercise can be found at
The three articles used include:
1) "Dinosaur Family Values" from Discover. This article is a third person account
of the research of Dr. Robert Bakker on Allosaurus lairs and parental care.
2) "Ground-breakers of Patagonia" from Natural History, an article by the researchers involved on sauropod nesting site in Argentina.
3) "The Metabolic Status of some Late Cretaceous Dinosaurs" by Ruben et al. (1996) from Science. This scientific journal article describes research into the presence or absence of nasal turbinates in dinosaurs and whether dinosaurs were
warm or cold blooded.
The three articles were chosen because they highlight:
1) Bakker as innovative "idea man".
2) Relate to lecture topics on reproduction, parental care, physiology.
3) Present novel but not well tested ideas about dinosaur behavior and physiology.
4) Include interpretations based upon variety of evidence, including fossil assemblages, sedimentary context, and/or anatomy.
5) Represent a variety of writing styles: 3rd person - popular, 1st person - popular, 1st person - scientific.
6) Represent a writing style of popular magazine likely to be encountered by students in future.
- Solution Set: