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
Formally describe a brachiopod specimen.
Identify specimens from descriptions written by other students.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
In my class, this is their first exposure to terms used to describe brachiopod morphology. The exercise would go faster if the students were already familar with the morphological terms from a lecture or reading assignments.
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Interpret a written description of a fossil species.
Write a description of a fossil using appropriate terminology.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Evaluate the relative importance of observations.
Other skills goals for this activity
Convey written descriptive information.
Description of the activity/assignment
Students are then given a different brachiopod specimen and asked to produce a written description (pedicle-valve, brachial valve, anterior view, lateral view) of their fossil similar to the one that they read--i.e. using all of the appropriate terms. They are told that other students will be trying to match their description to their specimen. I collect all of the descriptions, edit them (remove portions that use incorrect terminology or inappropriate), and produce a handout of all of the descriptions.
At the next class, students are given the descriptions and asked to match descriptions to specimens. They do this independently outside of class. The specimens are made available in the lab room for several days. I add a couple of 'extra' specimens (without description) so that it is not a process of elimination.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment:Handout for Exercise (Microsoft Word 258kB Aug2 09)
- Instructors Notes:
- Solution Set:Example of Student Descriptions (Microsoft Word 25kB Aug2 09)