Cutting Edge > Paleontology > Teaching Activities > Create a Cladogram

Create a Cladogram

Joann Hochstein
,
Central Florida Community College
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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 activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: Jun 4, 2009

Summary

Create a cladogram using nails,screws, and bolts. Teaches students not familar with paleontology about cladistics using items most students have seen before.

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Context

Audience

undergraduate Non-major general science

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

basic concepts of cladistics, differences between derived and primitive characters

How the activity is situated in the course

stand alone exercise

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goals of this activity is for students to be able to demostrate that they understand the concepts of cladistics well enough to construct a simple cloadogram

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

In this activity students must make observations about objects and how they may relate evolutionarily.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students work in groups of two for this activity. They must also communicate and compare results with other groups.

Description of the activity/assignment

Once the lecture on anatomy, classification and evolution are covered students then complete the "create a cladogram activity." Students are given a bag of nails, screws, and bolts which they must seperate and make observations about the characters of each item. Student then must determine the important derived characters and generate a matrix and cladogram. Students then must compare their cladograms with other groups to see how results varied and why results varied. This activity gives studnets proactive with the procedure of generating cladograms and some of its complexities.

Determining whether students have met the goals

I look over their matrix and cladograms to see if the correctly defined the derived charcters. There is more than one correct answer so as long as they group the "organism" using derived charcters in a way that makes sense then they have met the goals of that section of the activity.

For the questions section if they put a thoughtful answer and demostrate they can create a simple cladogram using everyday objects they have met the goals of this section.

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